May 7, 2013 7:14 PM by Jeanette Trompeter
It was one of my favorite escapes as a Cal Poly student and as I started my career here at KSBY "a few years" ago. I hadn't made the trek since I moved back, and was wondering if it was as cool as I remembered. It was and provided more reinforcement There's No Place Like Home.
Tucked behind the Community of Arroyo Grande, not far from where it kind of crosses paths with Edna Valley is a beautiful adventure to be had.
Just a mile from the ranger's station at Lopez lake is the start of a road that leads to beautiful hike.
It's a stretch of the Santa Lucia Wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest that few travel. And that makes it all the more intriguing to those of us wanting a little escape right in our own backyard.
It's about a 10 mile drive up a dirt road to get to the Big Falls trail head, and like a lot of the best adventures, it's a bit of a bumpy ride...so you'll want a high-clearance vehicle to make the journey over at least a dozen water crossings along the way. And though you won't have to worry about it in a drought year, after a series of good rains, be prepared it may be too high for some vehicles.
The trail itself meanders up the canyon through forested hillsides that in the spring are often scattered with wildflowers. And almost always with a mixture of ferns under the overhang of Oaks, Sycamore and wilderness scrub worth taking notice of as you hoof it up the hill.
And after a few creek crossings and cross sections of valley foliage, a nice spot to sit a spell in the summertime. Little falls is about a mile from the trail head.
And about a half mile past that, it's big brother, Big Falls, which flows year round.
I highly recommend packing a lunch or maybe some snacks or drinks, because once you get to Big Falls, you're going to want to chill for a little while. In summertime, you'll have a hard time not wanting to do that in the rock pool below the falls, as it can get hot in the canyon, but any time of year it's a great spot to just relax and regroup before heading back down the mountain.
Inspired hikers can keep on hoofing it up Hi Mountain trail but in summertime the pools above can be dwindling to dry.To get to the trail head, turn onto Hi Mountain Road, located just before the entrance to Lopez Lake Recreation Area, and then veer left onto Upper Lopez Canyon Road.
It's a 10-mile drive from the Rangers Station at Lopez Lake to the Big Falls/Little Falls trailhead. Again, it's about a mile hike to Little Falls, and another half mile or so up to Big Falls.
To see more pictures, click here.