Sunday, January 11, 2015

Rose Valley Falls

It's been a long time since there was enough water in the Los Padres to cause the Rose Valley Falls to be anything other than a dry cliff face, but the rains this weekend changed all that, at least temporarily. So I made a dash up the Maricopa Highway to Rose Valley on Sunday afternoon to scope things out before the multi-year drought currently gripping California reclaims its dominance. 

Trail Leading to Lower Rose Valley Falls

Moss and Lichen Grow Thick on the Trees Here

Creek Running Adjacent to the Rose Valley Falls Trail
There are two sets of falls at Rose Valley: a lower fall and an upper fall. The falls are reputed to be the highest in the entire Los Padres. Both are accessed by a short footpath that tracks south from the back of the Rose Valley Campground. The trail crosses the stream twice before gently ascending to the lower falls through a dense and gorgeous forest canopy. The day I visited, water music played in the stream and the forest was lush, cool, green, and drippy.

Stream Below the Falls

Falls Below the Falls
The formal trail terminates at the base of the lower falls. From there, you can continue to the upper falls by climbing the steep hillside using an obvious use "trail" to the left of the lower falls. The ascent involves a steep Class 3 scramble over loose dirt, rock, and roots to a vantage point high above the lower falls where views of the Rose Valley open up. The day I went the hillside was wet and the rocks were extremely slippery making the climb somewhat sketchy. The down-climb was downright dangerous. Given the fact I was solo, I shouldn't have attempted it. And at the end of the day, the upper falls weren't even flowing so there was limited reward for the risk taken.

Lower Rose Valley Falls

Water Flowing Over the Lower Falls

A Tangle of Tree Roots
Back at the campground, I spoke with a lady who had spent the previous night at the campground. In the past, Rose Valley had a reputation for being the Monte Cristo of the Los Padres and I was curious about whether times had changed. They haven't. The camper told me that despite the pouring rain, about 20 twenty-something young men spent the entire night in the campsite adjacent to her drinking by the fire and puking in the bathrooms. Remnants of their night of debauchery, including an abandoned tent frame and smoldering fire, was still evident as I left the campground. I guess that means Rose Valley is still in my no-camp zone.

Upper Rose Valley Falls

Ancillary Upper Falls

Ancillary Upper Falls

View of Rose Valley from Upper Falls

Back at the Lower Falls

Lower Rose Valley Falls

Lower Rose Valley Falls

Lower Rose Valley Falls

Foliage in the Fall Mist

Lower Falls Greenery
On my way out, the sun finally burst through the clouds allowing for unobstructed views of Piedra Blanca to the north and the Maricopa Highway as it winds its way south toward Ojai.

Piedra Blanca Formation

Piedra Blanca Close Up

Clouds Creeping Up the Maricopa Highway


  1. Cool, wet falls. These shots look like they could be from a Stillman post.

    1. Yeah teke, the SLP is Stillman's domain as you well know. Anytime you venture out into it, you're following in footsteps that he laid down first.