29 March 2012

Rose Valley Falls (and Lion Canyon)

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

I started out in Lion Canyon and took the Rose-Lion Connector Trail to make my way to Rose Valley Falls. Except for scrambling up to the east fork falls, the route was all quite gentle until the connector, which presented a bit of a climb. The route follows a dry stream bed on the way up with sections of smooth eroded areas where I just guessed I go up where there is no vegetation, eventually seeing boot prints again as the soil changed.

trail making its way above the dry stream bed
A bit of lovely but narrow trail tread on the Rose-Lion Connector Trail as it climbs westward. Below, a few puddles remain from flowing water.

Reaching the saddle at the top, there is just a tiny bit more climb and then the trail drops down into a spring fed valley with a bit of water flowing down it. I would guess it has a waterfall too, but it would be difficult to get to that and be too much to go with my other goals of the day. Continuing down, there was a spot where, coming the other way, it would have seemed that the trail forked with two perfectly good possible routes although only the route up was actually trail. I found it odd that sometimes this trail was hard to read like that with a few surfaces that didn't take footprints or the evidence of many feet well. Crossing the creek from Rose Valley Falls just above Upper Rose Lake, I found myself at the road beside the campground sign.

very green valley and very blue sky
Dropping down again along the Rose-Lion Connector Trail and taking a peek up the spring fed valley it drops into.


Upper Rose Lake
Water filling up Upper Rose Lake.

cliffs at the end of teh valley
Surveying the valley ahead, some forbidding cliffs can be seen at the end, one with a bit of water coming over the top.

Turning into the campground, the trail to the falls is at the far end. The campground was practically empty as I walked through with only two sites taken. It is another gentle route to get up to the smaller of the falls at just 100 feet. I poked around a little, but did not go into the cave at the bottom since it was a tiny bit cold and I've been in there before. Also, hey, the evidence presented by the many broken chunks of limestone that look like the rock of the falls illustrate that it isn't all that stable. One piece exactly matches one of the holes that is an entrance to the cave.

Rose Valley Falls
Rose Valley Falls is a growing waterfall adding bits of limestone as it goes. The bottom has a cave big enough for people with entrances to the left and right and water flowing through it and more flow stone inside.

dribbly, mossy flow stone
Tiers form as the fall grows.

There are many trails up to the upper falls, which is the one that can be seen from down in the valley, but I didn't like most of them. The ones near the fall are made by single minded people who simply want to get to the top as fast as possible whereas I like a route to be a little safer. I went back down the trail to where a major use trail took off up the side of the canyon. This trail seems to have once been a nice one, still fairly steep, but with switchbacks to help out the climb. I took some of the lesser used ones, but one spot has become the realm of the folks who just want to go up while others attempt to place a switching path up the dirt. The trail actually traveled quite a way away from the fall before coming back again and delivering me a little way above the top of the lower fall.

the upper tier of Rose Valley Falls
The upper tier of Rose Valley Falls from an angle that is almost exactly the same as a photo I took from down on the road, but with much less blur from distance and the stabilization requirements for a large zoom photo.

I proceeded up the valley and eventually the trails just seemed to lead up the stream bed itself. The fallen chunks of limestone do make for a fairly easy climb and the flow was not so high to make it particularly wet. I climbed my way along the rocks and eventually got to the bottom of the fall.

limestone debris along the stream bed
The approach to the upper fall becomes strewn with old chunks of limestone that have fallen off the fall in the years gone by.

pool at the bottom of the upper tier of Rose Valley Falls
The pool at the bottom of the fall, just about. Someone has put a spice bottle as a register in a hole in the rock left of middle saying, "You are one of the few to make it to the second tier (and live)!" A bit dramatic considering the well used state of the trail although people have died making their way up from the lower fall.

the upper fall, 250 feet
The upper fall of Rose Valley, which is reported to be 250 feet high.

I climbed around the bottom a little and noted the GPS had decided I'd gone nearly 8 miles already. I chowed down on some dry fruit to make sure I had the energy to get back down and made my way in that direction. I made my way a little closer to the lip of the lower fall to look out over the valley. A bright piece of webbing around a tree showed that someone has recently rappelled down it. The view was spectacular without the need to get so close to the edge to trigger my fear of heights. I climbed back up a small tributary with its own waterfall back to the trail I took up.

Blue Delphinium
Some Blue Delphinium in the tributary. It's getting a little old.

yellow ball flower
Some kind of yellow flower that pops out in delightful balls.

Indian Paintbrush
Some Indian Paintbrush hanging out in the canyon. There was lots of this looking great all along the trails.

another fall, in higher water
Just a dribble keeping the cliff wet, but there could be a waterfall here in higher water times. A tributary joining between the two tiers of waterfall.

I thought there might be some pretty pools up that fall, and climbed a little along use trails going that way to see. I didn't find any, but there was still more trail to go after I stopped. Turning around, I made my way back down to the more used trail and then the valley below.

Rose Valley
Rose Valley stretched out below with its lakes and Pine Mountain in the distance.

use trail along the rocks
A bit of the use trail carved out along the rocks only by the action of people walking it day after day.

Back at the campground, I decided to go back along the road. It doesn't go up so high as the connector and there is a slight chance of a ride for part of it. I hiked past Upper Rose Lake, a pond with a few ducks and turtles, then turned down the road to pass the closed gun club and the road on public land going to a private inholding marked "no trespassing" a bit early. It was an easy hike up and gentle down. My map had a line marked on it to cut a bit of the road down to Middle Lion that I found at a turnout just before the corner. Making my way down, I got to the campground that had also emptied out a bit during the day.

one turtle on a log
A turtle sunning itself in Upper Rose Lake. It had a smaller neighbor, but that spooked as I made a loud step.

the distinctive white rocks of Piedra Blanca
Coming down to the end of the road, I see the distinctive white rocks of Piedra Blanca.

stock sign
Start of the trail for stock (and hikers) to bypass much of the road to Middle Lion Campground.

Lion Canyon
A look down Lion Canyon from the main road.

Getting down to the campground, I packed up and washed a little dust off my face in the creek and took off for home.




©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 31 March 2012

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