This time of year is a great time to hunt for waterfalls. Yes, there are waterfalls this year thanks to the rain that we've had!
Canyon Falls in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is a 25 ft waterfall, accessible by a 1/2 mile hike directly from the road, or a 2 mile loop from the park entrance.
The falls are running quite full right now (Jan/Feb) so it's a good time to go. If it rains again, then our window will be extended!
We decided to do the Pony Gate/Canyon Loop Trail which goes right by the waterfall. Our 4, 7, and 9 year olds did just fine on this hike, although it's important to note that the canyon trail climbs down 400 feet to the falls and as you know, what goes down, must come back up again.
This hike begins near the entrance kiosk (there is a parking lot close to the trailhead, or there is an additional parking lot up the road a bit). This trailhead is the start of the Pony Gate Trail. The first part of the trail is short, about .4 miles. You will reach an intersection in a short amount of time. Going left will take you back to the road, going right will take you up to hook up with the rest of Pony Gate Trail. Choose right for this loop. The sign says "Stern/Lower Bald Mtn."
Further on veer left to continue onto Pony Gate trail. This trail winds through meadows and scrub forests.
After a while you will traverse down to the road; cross it and you will notice slightly further down on the other side of the road is the entrance to Canyon Trail.
Canyon Trail will take you down into the Redwood forest. This is a beautiful hike and takes you right to the creek. Once you are down in the canyon you will follow the creek until you see the sign for the waterfall.
The waterfall is beautiful and there are some flat rocks that can host the perfect picnic spot.
After a nice rest, continue on Canyon Trail back to the road and end of the hike. This last part of the hike is pretty steep but there are steps in place to make it safer.
Once you get back to the road, you simply hike on the road for a couple minutes and you will see the entrance kiosk where you began.
There is a small visitor's center with some educational displays for the kiddos. In the center there is also a small store with some outdoor essentials.
Kids who do a hike in Sugarloaf will get a free cup of hot chocolate which is served at the visitor's center.
If you have some extra time, check out the Ferguson Observatory further up the park road. They offer Star Parties on some Saturday evenings, where you can look through their huge telescopes, and Solor Viewing opportunities during the day. Docents are happy to show families sun spots and other fun things with their celestial equipment.
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park offers many different hiking trails, some mild hikes, and some more strenuous with sweeping views. There is something for everyone at this beautiful little state park right outside of Kenwood in the wine country.