Hiking to the No-Name Waterfall in Mendocino’s Russian Gulch State Park

Photo by Mick Haupt 

The rugged beauty of the Mendocino Coast attracts visitors from all over the world. Its stunning coastline, ancient redwood forests, and abundant wildlife make it a nature lover’s paradise. It’s also a popular spot for adventure seekers, with plenty of opportunities for kayaking, hiking, and exploring.

Russian Gulch State Park is a prime example of the natural beauty of the Mendocino Coast. Its diverse landscape includes forests, beaches, and rocky headlands, as well as the impressive Russian Gulch Falls. The park offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, from hiking and camping to fishing and beachcombing.

Photo by Mick Haupt 

One of the most popular attractions at Russian Gulch State Park is the no-name waterfall. It’s a hidden gem that many visitors overlook, but those who take the time to seek it out are rewarded with a breathtaking sight. The waterfall is a 35-foot cascade that splits into two streams, tumbling down a wide, black rock face and creating a symphony of rushing water.

To reach the waterfall, visitors must hike along the Waterfall Loop Trail, which winds through the lush forest of Russian Gulch Canyon. The trail is just under 3 miles long and is rated as moderate, with some steep sections and uneven terrain. Along the way, hikers will pass through stands of towering redwoods and fields of wildflowers, as well as spotting wildlife such as deer and gray squirrels.

The Waterfall Loop Trail begins on the east side of Highway 1, just past the park entrance. Hikers will pass under the arched Highway 1 Bridge (which is one lane, so drive with caution) and descend into the canyon. The first 2 miles of the trail are nearly flat, with a few short rises and descents. The trail is wide and well-maintained, but erosion has made it a patchwork surface with some muddy spots.

At 2.3 miles, hikers will reach a fork in the trail that leads to the waterfall. The Waterfall Loop Trail turns left and climbs gently for 0.7 miles to reach the falls. Along the way, hikers will pass many “octopus trees” – trees that have sprouted from the stumps of old-growth redwoods and sent roots over the tops and down the sides to create the octopus effect.

Photo by Mick Haupt

At the top of the climb, hikers will be rewarded with a stunning view of the waterfall cascading down the black rock face. There is a bench near a massive exposed root on the left, providing a perfect spot to take in the view. The trail continues down to a bridge for another view, before completing the loop.

The waterfall is a hidden treasure that few visitors to Russian Gulch State Park know about. But for those who take the time to seek it out, it’s a natural wonder that is not to be missed. The lush forest, abundant wildlife, and stunning scenery make the Waterfall Loop Trail a must-do hike for anyone visiting the Mendocino Coast.

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