Hiking the Little Falls Trail

Last year I looked up information on the Big Falls and Little Falls trails near Lake Lopez, but I did not hike them. Part of the reason for this was that I did not want to do stream crossings with my car. The crossings are required to reach both trailheads.

On Sunday afternoon Pam and I decided to go for a hike. Pam’s car is better suited for offroading than mine, so we decided to attempt to reach the Falls trailheads. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon. We drove through Arroyo Grande village, then past orchards and vineyards, and finally reached Lopez Lake.

As we drove toward the trailheads the road deteriorated to an unpaved state. We crossed some concrete culverts in the road, and for a moment we thought they might be the stream crossings. “My Sonata could handle this” I said. And then we found the stream.

We crossed the stream four times (in a manner that my Sonata could not handle). The fifth intersection with the stream caused us to pause. It was wider and deeper than the previous ones, and we were in a remote place with no cell phone reception. After some discussion we decided against making the crossing by car.

You Shall Not Pass. The stream crossing that stopped us.

You Shall Not Pass: The stream crossing that stopped us.

We proceeded on foot. After four more stream crossings we arrived at the Little Falls trailhead. By this time we realized we did not have time to walk all the way to the Big Falls trailhead (it was a few miles farther), so we decided to hike to Little Falls.

The Little Falls trailhead.

The Little Falls trailhead.

The trail was littered with branches. Some were from the recent storm. Other were just a testament to the remoteness of the trail. Large oak and sycamore trees create a canopy over the trail.

The Little Falls trail, with large trees overhead.

The Little Falls trail.

Early in the hike we encountered a California newt. It was moving along sluggishly. Deliberately placing one foot in front of the other. The little thing looked tired, drunk, or disoriented. I guess that’s just how newts go through life. I read about them after we got home–they are poisonous, so they do not need to fear most predators. Pretty cool.

A California newt by the Little Falls trail.

A California newt by the Little Falls trail.

About halfway to the falls we passed a sign informing us we were entering the Santa Lucia Wilderness. So we continued into the wild.

A sign for the Santa Lucia Wilderness.

A sign for the Santa Lucia Wilderness.

We stopped for a picture by the sign.

Little Falls was so little we almost missed it. A small side trail leads to the base of the falls, but it was thoroughly blocked by fallen trees, so we had to settle for a view from the main trail.

Little Falls, which lived up to its name.

Little Falls, which lived up to its name.

After reaching the falls we backtracked to the car.

On the drive back we stopped several times to get pictures.

A panorama from the drive out, with distant hills and a very blue sky.

A panorama from the drive out.

The sky was very blue. Clouds were plentiful.

A panorama of the sky and horizon

The sky was big and blue.

Blue sky with clouds, with a silhouette horizon containing a tree.

My favorite picture from the afternoon.

It’s great to have these trails and Lopez Lake so close to home. I’m sure we’ll be back. I still need to see Big Falls.


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