(Photo by Mary West - Behind the gate is a lovely two-mile trail away from the crowds to Glen Alpine Springs.)
Three miles off Highway 50 on Highway 89, take Fallen Leaf Road to the parking lot at the end of the road. Fallen Leaf Road is a beautiful drive. Much of the drive along Fallen Leaf Lake. The road narrows. I must have pulled over a dozen times to allow cars to pass on my way in and again on my way out. This is a busy road and the falls are just off the road making it a magnet for visitors. Keep driving all the way to the end for better parking. I went early and had time at the falls and didn’t have to hunt for a parking spot. It fills up fast when the weather is nice, so go early or late when possible.
The parking area is just over the bridge over Fallen Leaf Creek. At the end of the parking lot is a message board and a green gate. Behind the gate is a lovely two-mile trail away from the crowds to Glen Alpine Springs. Upon your return from the out and back hike check out more of the Glen Alpine Resort where John Muir founded the Sierra Club.
I had a late lunch with Stella, my Australian Shepherd/Queensland Heeler next to the creek before the short walk back to the car. Lily Lake and other trails are nearby to extend your adventure.
According to the Recreation.gov web site: visitors must obtain a Wilderness permit for overnight camping as well as day visits, year-round. A quota system is in place for the 45 overnight destination zones from the Friday before Memorial Day through September 30th each year. The system disperses visitors throughout the area, providing an opportunity for solitude and reflection. First-served basis on the day of entry. A recreation fee is assessed during the permitting process. Day trips are free of charge.
Mary West is author of the book series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide I, II and III (2nd edition Available on Amazon). The books are a collection of the Day Hiker columns where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond. West was the recipient of the 2017 and 2019 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Column and the 2020 Craft Award for her second book in the series-Day Hiker Gold Country Trail Guide by the Outdoor Writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram.
CLICK HERE to see the original article and more photos in The Union newspaper.