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Little Falls Trail (14E03)



2.8 mile 4.6 kilometer point to point
78% Runnable


Ascent: 1,409' 429 m
Descent: -67' -20 m
High: 2,046' 624 m
Low: 699' 213 m


Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 26% (14°)


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Trail shared by Chris Fa

An isolated trail in the Santa Lucia Wilderness starting at Little Falls Trailhead and connecting to the Rinconada Trail

Chris Fa

Features River/Creek · Waterfall

Runner Notes

During the summer the last mile of this trail will be very hot, and in the spring be wary of poison oak. Always be aware of mountain lions and rattlesnakes. This is a very isolated and lightly-used trail so be sure someone knows your plan and if possible, run in pairs.


There are two ways to access this trail. First, you can start at Rinconada Trailhead, run the Rinconada Trail (14E30) and find a well-marked trailhead at the top of a fireroad. For the second option, drive past Lopez Lake and access this route via the trailhead on Upper Lopez Canyon Road. These directions will follow the trail from its low point at Lopez Canyon Road to its high point at the Rinconada Trail junction. The trailhead is well-marked, but only consists of a small pull-out. Overall trail usage is very light... Even on a Saturday afternoon I only saw one other person on this trail.

From the trailhead, follow a narrow but obvious singletrack trail and immediately cross a creek. The first half mile or so is flat and runs through a heavily wooded valley. There are multiple creek crossings, but the flow is heavily dependent on season. The main creek bed is only running in the winter and spring.

Continue uphill out of the dense trees onto the side of a ridge. From here, the path becomes overgrown, exposed, steep, and rocky for about a half mile. After this section, the trail dips back into the valley and again traces a creek for another half mile. The trail then begins to climb the side of a ridge and becomes overgrown, steep, and exposed again for the remainder of the run.

It terminates on a fire road at the intersection with Rinconada Trail (14E30). The trail is easy to follow but expect for your legs to become very scratched up due to the overgrowth of spiky plant life. This section would be brutish during the summer; the first mile and a half section is definitely the most pleasant.

You may connect this run with Rinconada Trail for a 9 mile out-and-back or connect it with Big Falls Trail for a loop.

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