Chasm Falls via Old Fall River Road, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
Alberta Falls Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
View of the waterfall at the end of San Ysidro Trail near Santa Barbara, California
Location: Foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains north of Montecito
Trail Length: 3.85 miles, out and back
Elevation Gain: About 1150 feet
Link: San Ysidro Trail on AllTrails.com
Notable Features: Gradual elevation gain spread over the length of the trail, waterfall at the end, which only had a trickle of water due to the drought in July 2016
Continental Falls on Lower Mohawk Lake Trail near Breckenridge
Location: Off Highway 9 south of Breckenridge
Trail Length: About 5.0 miles, in and back trail
Elevation Gain: About 1,000 feet
Notable Features: This is a moderate trail that falls just below the strenuous level. At 5 miles and with 1,000 feet in elevation, it isn’t the most knee-busting trail out there, but the entire trail is above the 10,000-foot mark, making it harder for those not used to the altitude. The trail parallels Spruce Creek for part of the way, and the journey is worth it for the up-close view of Continental Falls. If you go a little further than I did, you’ll reach Mohawk Lake.
Hyperlapse video of Continental Falls feeding into Spruce Creek.
Hiking the Tahquitz Canyon Trail in Palm Springs, California
Tahquitz Canyon is a sacred area for the Agua Caliente tribe, named after a powerful shaman. It’s said that his spirit continues to live in the canyon and the mountain today, triggering unexplained natural phenomena at times.
Once you get into the canyon, it’s easy to see why the tribe’s ancestors sought refuge in this beautiful canyon during the hot summer months in the desert. A stream flows mostly year-round alongside the trail for most of the mile-long journey to the falls. The waterfall itself is a powerful 80-foot wonder that drops into a pool at the base of the mountain. You can swim in the pool for as long as you can endure the chilly water.
The hike to the falls gains about 300 feet in elevation, and due to the area’s sacred status, the tribe asks hikers to stay on designated trails.
There is an admission fee to gain entrance to the trail, and you can hike it on your own or join a guided tour.
Waterfall dropping to the Lower Emerald Pool
The Emerald Pools Trail – along with the adjacent Kayenta Trail – is one of the classic and most popular hikes in Zion National Park. At about 4 miles long with an elevation gain of around 400 feet at the uppermost pool, the route I took is moderate and also included the Grotto Trail connecting that picnic area with Zion Lodge.
After leaving the lodge parking area and crossing over the bridge over the Virgin River, the trail nudges upward, giving great views of the river, before turning west into the canyon. The trail continues to climb steadily about 150 feet until you reach the Lower Emerald Pool at the bottom of two waterfalls, which the trail skirts under, although the rails help you through the wet and slippery area.
After circling the lower pool, the trail turns into a quick climb to the source of those waterfalls – the Middle Emerald Pool. The final leg of the trail shoots up about 200 feet in half a mile and leads to the Upper Emerald Pool, with a majestic waterfall dropping hundreds of feet into the pool that is hemmed in on 3 sides by cliffs.
From the middle pool, you can return to the trailhead via the Middle Emerald Pool Trail. I chose to return via the approximately one-mile long Kayenta Trail, which crosses the Virgin River at the Grotto picnic area. The quick and easy Grotto Trail – just over half a mile with negligible elevation gain – connects that picnic area with Zion Lodge.
Waterfall on the Heart Rock Trail
The Heart Rock Trail is a great walk through the pine forests near Crestline. The trail itself can be a challenge to find, but once you’re on it, it’s well marked.
The spur that heads down a steep hill to the heart rock is about a half mile from the trailhead. It can be tough to spot, but if you listen for the voices of people who have flocked to it (it can be crowded on summer weekends), you’ll be able to find it. Use caution heading down and be prepared for a scramble on the way back up because that part of the trail is steep.
The namesake of the trail (don’t look at the photos if you want the view to be a surprise) is near a wonderful waterfall with a nearby rock jump for the adventurous types. The jump is only about 10-15 feet high, but make sure to aim carefully as the landing pool isn’t very big. I jumped twice, and little kids were having a great time doing it.
There are a lot of large rocks in and around the stream at the base of the waterfall that make for great picnic spots and photo opportunities.
Uluwehi Falls – also known as Secret Falls – is a beautiful 100+ foot waterfall located in Wailua River State Park.
The route to the falls includes a 2.5-mile kayak on the Wailua River, followed by an easy hike of less than one mile. The paddling and hiking are relatively easy, and although it takes a couple hours to complete the journey, the falls are well worth it. And there are scores of people there on pleasant days.
If you have your own kayak, you can make this trip yourself (and if you have your own kayak in the area, you probably already do this on a regular basis). But for tourists, there are a bunch of tour companies offering guided trips down the river to the falls.
The kayak portion, starting at the Wailua Marina just off Highway 56, is an easy paddle down the slow-moving and scenic Wailua River. A high cliff towers over the south side of the river, while traffic on Kuamoo Road flows by on a bluff the north side. At the fork in the river just past the Hawaiian village, head right and the river gets narrow. Your guide will know where to dock your kayak and proceed with the short and easy hike to the falls.
At the falls, there is plenty of room to find a spot in the rocks for lunching, relaxing and gazing at the waterfall. There is a wide pool at the base of the falls to swim in, although the water is often chilly. Be careful as decent-sized rocks can tumble down the falls.
The kayak trip back is with the current, making for a relaxing end to a scenic trip.
The lower waterfall.
To reach the village of Naikorokoro and the waterfalls south of the village on Kadavu Island, hire a guide from nearby Papageno Resort to take you.
My guide Zachariah loaded everything into a boat and skimmed along the coast east of Papageno for a few minutes before docking at the tiny village of Naikorokoro.
A hike through the village to the waterfall is a little over a mile long with a 300-foot elevation gain. It barely reaches the moderate level, but the difficulty goes up if it’s been raining. I almost lost a shoe after stepping in some deep and squishy mud.
Once at the falls, you can jump right in the pool at the base of the first waterfall to clean and cool off. If you’re adventurous enough, follow your guide almost straight up to get to the second waterfall, which is even higher and more spectacular than the first. Again, the deep pool at the second fall is perfect for a swim.
Waterfalls near Papageno Resort on Kadavu Island, Fiji.
The hike from Papageno Resort to the waterfalls in the hills south on Kadavu Island is a steep climb through thick rainforest, but on a well-marked path that is not quite 3 miles round trip.
The path is mostly dirt but a few smooth rocks make for a footing challenge if it rained recently. And since it is tropical Fiji, it almost surely has rained recently!
The pools under the waterfalls (the tallest is about 20 feet high) make for a refreshing dip after an elevation gain of about 650 feet. There are a lot of caterpillars making their home around the pools.
If you’re lucky, some of the resort’s resident dogs will accompany you on the trail. And let me know if you find a pair of sunglasses… I lost mine after slipping on a rock in the path. (It had rained recently!)