This is an enchanting spot that is only a 20 minute walk off of County Road 409, between Mendocino and Fort Bragg. You can also hike to this waterfall from the Russian Gulch State Park Campground near Mendocino. That route takes about two hours and you would have to pay a day use fee to park your car at the campground.
The route I'm describing has free access and it is also a shorter hike. I can do it in about twenty minutes of steady walking. The times mentioned here included brief stops to take photographs, write notes, tend to the kids etc. . . You could ride in on a mountain bike too but bicycles are not allowed on the trail below the falls. There aren't very many waterfalls in Mendocino County but finding a waterfall hidden in a redwood forest is definitely worth the short walk.
Starting at the intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 20 in Fort Bragg, drive south on Highway 1 toward the village of Mendocino. After five miles, you will come to a bridge on Highway 1 with a sign identifying: Caspar Creek. Immediately after this bridge (at milepost # 54.65) you will come to the intersection with County Road 409 on the left. (The road to the right at this intersection, is called Point Cabrillo Drive.)
Turn left on Road 409, heading east. Park just beyond milepost 3.26 where the pavement ends.
Find a place to park alongside of the road here.
There is a gate at the trailhead which is 20 yards beyond the point where the pavement ends and gravel begins on Road 409.
This is where you start walking. Walk around the side of this gate. After walking about 200 yards, you will come to a side lane to the left which leads into a horse camp. Stay on the main trail and walk around the side of this gate too.
After about six minutes of walking, you will get to a place where the trail descends into a gully. At the very bottom of this gully is a small trail on the left hand side of the main trail.
This trail is a shortcut which is only 100 feet long but will save you about 200 yards of steep walking up the other side of the gully and then back around to where this shortcut ends.Turn left to continue on the main trail where you will descend into a redwood forest.
A few minutes of walking down this section of the trail will bring you to the creek that feeds the waterfall.
There is a fork in the trail just before it reaches the creek. Turn to the right (on the better trail) and follow the creek downstream.
After about five minutes, you will come to a footbridge that crosses the creek. After crossing the footbridge, there is a climb of about 100 yards that brings you to another fork in the trail. Stay to the right at this fork and continue following the creek downstream.
The top of the falls are reached after walking for about 3 minutes past the footbridge.
There are some steps chiseled into the rock at the top of the falls which may be slippery when wet.
While this waterfall once graced the cover of our local phone book, it isn't the tallest, the westerly most or the most anything in particular.
It is however, a very pleasant walk to an enchanting spot. Please help us to keep it a secret. ;-)
Adventurous folk may try and see how close they can get to the falls by scooting out on a fallen log that bisects the flow of water.
Or jump in for a dip, the water's just . . .
fi-fi-fi-fi . . .freezing!
Please don't forget to take something to drink.
You might want to take a local wine, some bread & cheese perhaps, and surprise your special someone with a picnic at an exceptionally intimate and truly romantic spot.