02 April 2011

Rose Valley Falls

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

I found a hike to a big waterfall that I thought my mom could do even though she hasn't been able to hike for quite some time. On the localtrails site, it said it would be 1 mile round trip and 300 feet of elevation change. I grabbed a camp chair and a few hiking essentials and we drove down past Ojai and up to Rose Valley. There was a sign for the turn off 33, but no sign for the turn from there, so although I was sure that was the right turn, I went on and had to come back. There's not very far to go on from there, anyway.

On the way in, we spotted a huge waterfall high up the canyon wall. We seemed to be headed in that direction, so figured it was the waterfall we were going to see.

A massive cliff over which a bunch of water is falling.  Clouds are falling over the top of the ridge above.
Driving into Rose Valley and seeing the falls coming down the cliff like wall in the distance. Also coming down are the clouds we were escaping.

Once there, the parking seemed to be full unless we wanted to block a gated road. I found a spot off the pavement just outside of the campground to park. It was also just past a ford, so I had an extra crossing to negotiate, but it was narrow at the top of the ford and could be jumped. We started down the trail from the campground. It crossed a few streams at the start, then climbed up for one last look at the waterfall before getting close.

Top of the falls and blue sky.
A closer look at the falls ahead.

The trail stayed a reasonable height above the stream as it went for most of the way. A few small trails led down to it as we went although there rarely seemed to be any reason for it. Sometimes there were little water features.

A small fall along the stream on the way up.
A little piece of stream cascading along through bay and other trees.

Then we got to the waterfall. It was not the same waterfall we had seen from far off after all. This one is not quite so tall as what could be seen before but has its own delights anyway.

The lower falls through the trees.
A first glimpse of the falls through the trees.

Side view of the bottom of the falls.
The bottom of the waterfall from the right hand side of it.

A detail showing the ledges in the falls.
This waterfall is also growing, resulting in it seeming to stick out instead of the usual carved look and in the ledges.

The bottom of the falls showing the lowest ledge which has a cave within.
The bottom of the waterfall and the last ledge. At the center is actually an entrace to a small cave.

A couple of kids were preparing to check out under the waterfall. It turned out there was a cave in there. Some women snaking up on the side of the canyon were encouraging them. They seemed to have already gone in. When the kids were through looking around, I tried it out. There's actually comments on the localhikes site telling about the cave.

The same cave entrace but from inside.
Once inside the cave, looking out that same entrance shows only a dribble of water.

Another entrance to the cave.
The cave has a second entrance that's a little higher and drier. The bottom was wet as some small amount of water came through it instead of over the falls.

Flowstone under the waterfall.
Inside the cave there are limestone cave features, mostly flow stone.

I went out the other side of the cave at the second entrance. This put me mostly on the other side of the waterfall.

The bottom of the falls from the left side.
The bottom of the falls again, this time from the left side. Again, the center bit of black is an entrance to the cave.

Top of the falls.
The top of the waterfall. Spray everywhere!

The top of the falls from the other side, less violent.
Another look at the top of the falls, this time from the right side again. On this side, it is just calm streams coming over an ever steeper edge.

Eventually we headed back down the trail and over the stream crossings and back to the car. Not too far down the trail was a second, somewhat steep trail going up the hillside. I went up this trail shortly to a washed out part that would be easy to pass. There were a number of routes mentioned in the comments of the localhikes site to get up to the bigger falls and this is probably one of them. Another mention is for a trail a little further down that crosses the stream then goes up the other side. Others go up close to the falls but many mention that is hard.

Falls again.
One last look at the falls on the way out.

©2011 Valerie Norton
Posted 3 April 2011

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