Hike around Coon Creek to Hidden Falls
Lake Tahoe › Hidden Falls Parking Area
Added by Chris Cheng
Enjoy the beauty of two waterfalls that are tucked away on your way to the wooden platforms that hang above.
Not far from California's capital is Hidden Falls Regional Park. The name suits the park nicely, as the hidden gem of waterfalls await those who are willing to take the trek. The trails are well-maintained, surrounded by lively trees, and provide ample walking space. Along the whole loop, there are very few steep spots, and even those are no longer than a quarter of a mile. When running downhill, there are occasionally a few rocks in the ground to be aware of. Out of the several trails to reach the falls, the one covered will be the Poppy Trail to South Legacy Way to Creek Side Trail loop to the Hidden Falls Access Trail.
Before driving to Hidden Falls Regional Park, it is advised to take a look at the directions beforehand. There are quite a few street changes that can leave someone disorientated. Within one mile of the parking lot, there will be signs to help guide the way.
The trail begins down Poppy Trail which contains some switchbacks. While walking down, there will be a spot where the trees open up to a wide view of the hillside. Poppy Trail ends at the first major intersection. There will be a sign with two arrows, one pointing to the left toward South Legacy Way, and an arrow pointing right over Whiskey Diggins Bridge toward North Legacy Way. This will be the same bridge on the return trip. South Legacy Way bends at this intersection, so there will be two paths to choose from. The loop will continue on the path closest to Coon Creek.
Take South Legacy Way all the way until you reach the 2nd restroom. At the 1st restroom, you really have your pick of trails that will all connect back to the 2nd restroom (South Legacy Way, Gold Finch Trail, and Great Egret Trail). Personally, I like Great Egret Trail since it stays close to the river.
Crossing over the Salmon Run Bridge at the 2nd restroom marks the halfway point in the loop and the lowest elevation (397 feet) before starting the climb back up. Make a hard right onto Creek Side Trail. This trail will hug the northern side of the river. Interestingly right where the trail merges with Grey Squirrel Trail, Creek Side Trail becomes a one-way trail, not something often seen.
Creek Side Trail merges into North Legacy Way, a wide gravel road. Before crossing the Canyon View Bridge, you have the opportunity to jog up to first Viewing Deck for a snack break. You may even see Canyon View Falls from up there. This Viewing Deck is the only one that will have a roof to help shield against rain or sun.
As you make your way back down to the bridge, make a right after crossing to continue on to Hidden Falls Access Trail. After a short quarter mile, you will reach the last Viewing Deck where you will be treated with a full view of Hidden Falls. Once you've had your fill, and gone back on Hidden Falls Access Trail, there will be a right turn to take you past this opening in a fence. If you were coming from the other way, the actual turn off point to see the Hidden Falls is not explicitly stated on the trail. Perhaps that is why it is called Hidden Falls? Make a right past this opening and it will lead you back to the first major intersection past Whiskey Diggins Bridge. From there you will finish the last leg of the loop backtracking Poppy Trail to the parking lot.
For those wish to reach Hidden Falls faster, it is as simple as making a right after Poppy Trail toward North Legacy Way, make a left to Hidden Falls Access Trail, and one more left once you see the opening in the fence down the rocky stairs.
If you only have a short time, the falls can be reached via an out-and-back 3-mile gradual shaded trail . Otherwise, I suggest the 8.4-mile loop along Coon Creek that saves the falls for the end. There are picnic tables and benches along the trail to stop and enjoy the scenery, especially on the viewing decks near the water falls, as well as several restrooms.
- Poncho if it rains
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Fitness, Hiking, Running
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Great trails for mountain biking and hiking!
I love this area for spring and fall hikes and bike rides around the Sacramento Area. There are so many miles of trail that you could spend all day out here hiking or a good part of the day exploring them on bike. Not all trails are as good for bike riding as hiking and the trails to the falls can be crowded so if you are looking for good bike riding trails take the back roads to the falls and the overlook so you don't have to wait for all the hikers on the trail.
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