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Waterfall Loop Nature Trail



1.0 mile 1.7 kilometer point to point
80% Runnable


Ascent: 320' 97 m
Descent: -318' -97 m
High: 1,464' 446 m
Low: 1,145' 349 m


Avg Grade: 12% (7°)
Max Grade: 56% (29°)


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Trail shared by Joan Pendleton

This is a fun trail with many waterfalls to explore and a huge variety of lush vegetation including flowering bushes.

Joan Pendleton

Features River/Creek · Waterfall

This is open 8am to sunset.

Reservations are required on the weekend due to limited parking and traffic on a one-lane road. See the park website for up-to-date information on how to get a reservation.


Waterfall Loop Nature Trail is a self-guided nature trail along Swanson Creek in its steep-sided creek valley deep in the densely forested Santa Cruz Mountains at Uvas Canyon County Park.

Five beautiful waterfalls are passed on Waterfall Loop Nature Trail along with short side trips from this nature trail. All are named and labeled. There is a huge variety of lush creekside vegetation along the trail. Several plants, bushes, and trees are identified by number and described in a pamphlet that can be picked up at the trailhead.


In addition to this Waterfall Loop Nature Trail Featured Run, there is a trail named Waterfall Loop Road. They differ slightly at their beginnings.

To find Waterfall Loop Nature Trail from the parking area, take the park road toward the campground. While still on the park road, cross a bridge over Swanson Creek. Immediately after crossing the creek, turn left onto the trail at the sign that marks the start of Waterfall Loop Nature Trail. The trail runs along Swanson Creek with the creek to the left of the trail for a very short ways, then climbs stairs, turns left, and crosses back over Swanson Creek on a sturdy bridge. Granuja Falls can be seen slightly upstream of this bridge. Waterfall Loop Nature Trail is on Swanson Creek Trail for this section.

Shortly after crossing Swanson Creek at Granuja Falls, Waterfall Loop Nature Trail joins Waterfall Loop Road. A sign at this trail junction points the way to continue this Nature Trail.

After merging with Waterfall Loop Road, Waterfall Loop Nature Trail re-crosses Swanson Creek on another bridge, and then climbs above the creek. The creek is below and to the left as the trail runs upstream. A short spur trail, Waterfall Loop Trail - Black Rock Falls Spur, that takes one to Black Rock Falls is passed at the 0.45-mile mark. It's well worth visiting.

Almost immediately after passing Waterfall Loop Trail - Black Rock Falls Spur, a picnic table is on the left at Myrtle Flats. Waterfall Loop Nature Trail makes a U-turn around the picnic table and begins heading downstream on a singletrack path that immediately descends to the creek. Continuing straight at the picnic table takes one to Basin Falls and Upper Falls on Basin Falls Trail. This is not marked. Basin Falls and Upper Falls are close by and very pretty waterfalls.

Going downstream, Waterfall Loop Nature Trail travels right next to the creek at creek level. Little Falls is passed, and an unbridged Swanson Creek crossing is reached at the 0.9-mile mark. After crossing the creek, the trail returns to its 0.1-mile mark near a bridge that it crossed earlier. Re-cross Swanson Creek on this bridge and then at the Swanson Creek Trail junction, continue straight following an arrow showing the way to the parking lot.

Waterfall Loop Nature Trail ends at the park road very near the parking area.

Flora & Fauna

There is a huge variety of lush creekside vegetation, bushes, flowering bushes, and trees. Pick up the Waterfall Loop Nature Trail pamphlet at the trailhead to learn about and identify several of them. Along the trail many are numbered, with corresponding numbers that have descriptions in this pamphlet.

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We need help with the following missing trail information:

Need to Know, Runner Notes, History & Background


Land Manager: Santa Clara County Parks

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Trail Ratings

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65 Views Last Month
1,182 Since Apr 19, 2018



Upper Falls.
Apr 18, 2018 near Day Valley, CA
Swanson Creek cascades over moss covered rocks along Swanson Creek Trail.
Apr 18, 2018 near Day Valley, CA
Granuja Falls along Swanson Creek.
Apr 18, 2018 near Day Valley, CA
Little Falls along the Waterfall Loop Trail.
Apr 18, 2018 near Day Valley, CA
The Diablo Range in the far distance across Santa Clara Valley, comes into view beyond Santa Cruz Mountains as one climbs Knobcone Trail.
Apr 18, 2018 near Day Valley, CA
Nearby Santa Cruz Mountains to the northwest, seen from Alec Canyon Trail as it climbs steep switchbacks at the beginning.
Apr 18, 2018 near Day Valley, CA


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