Murietta Falls musings:

The thing to do when you’re already hiking 12 miles with over 4,300 feet of uphill climb is to tag a few more on because the view’s a little better.

Another thing to do is stand in water with with confidence because your boots are waterproof, then finding out otherwise when you’ve got seven more miles of hiking ahead of you.

Yet another thing to do is play hooky from work — I didn’t, but I met a couple guys who did. I did get a somewhat similar sensation, though, when I was driving into Livermore and seeing 19,473 cars lined up in the other direction, presumably all to their jobs somewhere else. Poor wretches.

Because it’s my blog and I can toss common sense on the breeze, I can wait till now to tell you that the water’s raging at Murietta Falls. There’s so much water in the creek at Williams Gulch that you’ll have a hard time getting across with your feet dry. Sadly, there’s no rain in the forecast this week so the flow will probably be quite a bit slower next weekend. But the chance to do the hike on a sunny day might be worth it — also, I saw the first hints of wildflowers here and there; the poppies could be poppin’ soon.

For those unfamiliar with the pleasures of hiking to Murietta Falls: It’s about six miles one way from the Lichen Bark Picnic Area at Del Valle Regional Park near Livermore. Getting there entails one epic climb on from the parking lot to Rocky Ridge, then going downhill to Williams Gulch, then slogging up for another epic climb on the Big Burn (steep, yes, but also one of the prettiest stretches of single-track trail in the East Bay.) After that you go back down a few hundred feet in a mile to the Falls, including a harrowing bit of iffy footing just before you reach the base.

Then you go back the way you came. A side trip along the Rocky Ridge Trail adds about a mile each way, but you avoid a really steep patch of trail and get some great scenery.

So enough gabbing, let’s look at some pictures:

Spring running full blast

This is Stromer Spring, on the way to the Rocky Ridge Trail. There are gallons of fresh mountain springwater flowing out of the tap. (I took a taste; it was delish.)

Clouds, ridges

The first several miles looked out over a bunch of this. We did get sunshine later, fortunately.

Gushing at the gulch

Water gushes at Williams Gulch.

At Murietta Falls

Now, let me introduce Keith, with whom I hiked off and on most of the day. He was at Lichen Bark when I arrived and we headed up the hill, chatting about work, life and stuff. Of course like everybody else on the planet he’s a much faster hiker going uphill, so we parted ways for most of the climb up the Big Burn, then hiked together to the falls. He’s a geocacher, and that’s a geocache log he’s writing in. That’s the falls behind him.

Murietta Falls

Murietta Falls in all their glory. I was standing here in ankle-deep water thinking my Neos Overboots were watertight, then all the sudden my feet felt the cool reality of a leak, which meant walking back with soggy feet. Live and learn, I guess.

I had no luck getting cool pictures of the falls — there’s just too much light here in the middle of the day to get those cool slow-shutter-speed time exposure shots that make the water all flow together; gotta be here real early or real late. Might be a good excuse for an overnighter at Stewart’s Camp.

After lunch, it was back up the hill.

Trees in a puddle

Trees reflected in a puddle. I know, reflection shots are not that clever, but I liked how this one came out.


Wildlife sighting!

Vistas opening up

The blue sky started coming out on the way back down the Big Burn. Finally.

Pretty clouds

Got some cool clouds on the way back to Rocky Ridge.

Guess what: more pretty clouds

And a few more…

Rocks and sky

And a few more.

One final thought on the falls: Even after four days of rain they are not spectacular. Many hikers feel let down after hiking all that way. My thinking is: this is an epic hike, one of the toughest in the region. The virtue of completing it is its own reward; the falls are eye candy. Hike for the hike, not the view of water running down a narrow cataract in the middle of nowhere.

A couple Murietta Falls links:

East Bay Parks’ Del Valle Regional Park page

Kevin Gong’s Murietta hike.

View Larger Map