Berry and Silver Falls

2003 February

Berry and Silver Falls, Big Basin State Park

After a disappointing experience on the top half of the Skyline to the Sea Trail two weeks ago I was keen for a better outdoor experience. And that is exactly what Emily and I got today, the last day of February in this leap year. It started Saturday, around 3 pm after Emily got off work, when we drove down to my parents house in Felton. In addition to washing three loads of laundry we found some time to relax, chat with my parents and get slobbered/farted on by their dog Scoobie. Whew! Nothing like a dog fart! Around noon on Sunday we hit the road and less than an hour later were parked at Rancho Del Oso State Park on the Pacific Coast, readying ourselves for a bike/hike trip up to Berry and Silver Falls.

Here is view looking back towards the ocean at Waddell Beach just minutes into the ride. Close inspection will reveal a bus heading south over the bridge.


For the most part the bike ride is quite easy, following the river it has gentle grades on roads suitable for one way vehicle traffic. Luckily however, cars are the exception, not the norm and you may only encounter them in the first few minutes of the trip when you find yourself rolling past the farms that dot the lower portion of the valley. On a previous trip Emily and I encountered someone taking their llamas for a walk in this area! Riding through this area, as expected, Emily pointed out the numerous examples of nettles and miners lettuce.

Emily cruises on the road past a fallow field full of sour grass at one of the many farms in the valley. In this photo she is headed towards the ocean.

And here is another view, looking south, of the fallow field with the farmers houses in the background.

Here is a photo taken looking up the canyon, once again Emily is pointed in wrong direction. No sense of direction in that girl.

Ay Dios Mio! Once again Emily is headed the wrong way, this time it is downstream. It's a wonder that we ever got to the falls.

Clearly, this is the best photo of the entire trip.

Near the end of the bike portion of the trip we both spied an abnormality in the river below us to our left. The river appeared to be flowing over smooth rock for its entire width before entering a pool, very much like a wide, gradual waterslide. Further investigation proved this to be the case and should it have been a blazing hot day in the summer we may have taken advantage of the river god offering. However, this must wait for another trip.

This was my attempt (a complete and utter failure) to include part of my face in the picture of the river flowing over the smooth rock. However, my face is in focus and doesn't have any large boils so why not put it in.

This gives you a better idea of what the slide is like. To the left, not visible in this photo, it flows into a pool of unknown depth.

Voila! The bottom of the slide.

Minutes later we hitched (locked) our horses (bikes) to the post and began the hiking portion of the trip to the falls. And 12 minutes later we where at Berry Falls; neither Emily or myself remember the hike being so short, but it was, and we were going at a easy pace. After sandwiches (peanut-butter and banana with raspberry jelly on yucky bread) and some photos we continued on towards Silver Falls and within about 15 minutes found ourselves at the base. Emily continued up to the top so I could get a photo with her on top and then I joined her to see the Golden or Cascade Falls directly above them. Due to recent storms all of the falls were really flowing, with more water than I have seen in my two previous trips and in any pictures I have ever seen of them.

Berry Falls from the observation deck with Emily in the bottom of the picture and fellow hikers to the top and left of the falls. It is perhaps twenty more feet from the bottom of this picture to the bottom of the falls.

Silver Falls with Emily barely visible at the top. It is pretty cool the way that the trail takes you from the bottom to the top of Silver Falls.

Speaking of which, here is the path up Silver Falls. It's kind off like a poor mans Mist Trail.

Hey, a picture of me at the top of Silver Falls.

And here is Emily at the Golden Cascade directly above Silver Falls. The first time I came here, many years ago, the gold color was incredible compared to today.

Above Golden Cascade a tree had fallen and made continuing on the trail difficult at best. However, we weren't going any further so it didn't matter. Much thanks to the Chinese girl for adding perspective to the picture.

During the hike back to the bikes we stopped and looked at the pool we jumped in on our previous bike trip to the falls several years back. That trip was in the summer so it was much warmer and the quantity of water much less, resulting in a clear pool that today was murky. However, with redwoods shading almost all of the river year round the water was strikingly cold, as Emily had fun looking at me and pointing out. Can anyone say SHRINKAGE?

Back to the bikes and the downhill ride back to the ocean. Passing people on foot I felt guilty since you lose nothing by riding a bike instead of walking the 5 plus miles from the beach to the hitching post. That's just me though, I hate to walk when I can ride a bike or similarly ride a bike when I can drive a car. Of course Emily points out that my rule only applies to outdoor activities; at home I prefer to walk to the grocery store instead of driving. But let's not delve into my obsessive compulsive nature and instead extend our sympathy to Emily who has to deal with it (and my other neurosis) for the rest of her life.

Voice from the sky bellows, "Finish the damn story!".

OK. Back at the car, we cross Highway 1, enter Waddell Beach, watch kite surfers, go back to the car, drive up the coast to Half Moon Bay, cut over on Highway 92...

Emily checks out the kite surfers fighting the fierce onshore wind at Waddell Beach.

Louder voice from above moans, "No one cares which way you drove home!". At which point Michael Palin, dressed as the Black Knight, suddenly appears out of nowhere and cuts off my arms and legs. It's just a flesh-wound. Come back! I'll bite your knee-caps off!