Uvas Canyon County Park is a great little place, and only about 1 hr 15 mins from Oakland. Far enough to get away, but close enough to do it on a whim! Dog friendly camping and hiking trails, mostly shady, and yes, the famous Waterfall Loop!
“This lushly wooded park of 1,133 acres, is nestled in upper Uvas Canyon on the eastern side of the Santa Cruz Mountains.”
The park itself only has 6 official miles of trails, but some of these are out and backs, and though the Waterfall Trail is only a mile, many falls you can walk off the trail and climb to the top or the bottom of them, still you can probably do all trails within the park limits in one day if you want. I didn’t get to do the super steep Knibbs Knob trail, but it appears that you can hike up to Summit Road, and hike a bit around there before hitting private property signs, that will add another mile or so. I’ll have to go back.
But wait, you want to know about the waterfalls! It’s amazing to me that so many waterfalls are so close together and easy to get to. There are 8 or 9 small to medium falls, and small rolling rapids as it has been a rainy year. You can view the waterfalls via an easy trail with hardly any elevation, or you can go on the other side of the creek for a little elevation. The trail is really well marked, and also has nature markers with a guide. It really is beautiful. It is worth driving here and doing just this hike. This is a leash only park, and every dog we saw was on it’s leash, yay!
There are a lot of people viewing the waterfalls. I’m glad that we camped, it allowed me to wake up early the next morning before the park opened, and enjoy the falls without feeling pressured to move on so others could take photos. We saw a deer, and then later on while eating lunch at our site, heard a bunch of dogs barking super crazy, and watched a Bobcat run across the entrance to the campground about 500 feet away.( at least it looked like a Bobcat–no one was chasing it)
We found this little heart in a tree stump along the waterfall trail.
Once we left the waterfall trail area, we had the trails to ourselves. I really liked the Contour Trail, it runs along the creek and goes from being low next to the creek to an elevated trail through a nice wooded terrain, and then to an open trail with great views of beautiful trees. It has bridges and man made stairs at points. I picked it up from the top of the Waterfall loop, and really liked the view going this way.
We also did the Knobcone Point steep 1/2 mile trail, which is also off the Waterfall Trail. There are some good views coming back down, at the top is a picnic table surrounded by tress, no views, but a nice snack spot.
Though check in time is 3 PM, the ranger let me set up at 1 PM. I made our reservations online, and I was one of the only people there. The sites I think might be tent only, or maybe a small RV is allowed, but there isn’t electricity, and water faucets are only every 3 or 4 sites. Each site does have a table, bear box ( no bears but other wildlife) and a fire ring. The rangers even brought me firewood. The campground is really clean, and has individual showers that are single locked door showers that you access from the outside, instead of having to go through a whole restroom area, these seem more private to me. This time of year the camping fee is $30.00 (April) and it includes the $6 daily parking fee.
I loved our little site, we had spot 10, with the creek running about 50 feet below us. I was looking forward to using this as a base camp while we went out and hiked, and also possibly left the park to go hike at other nearby parks, though the gates close at 7 PM. But I started getting sick the day before we went camping, and got sicker on the second day camping so left earlier than expected–after getting a good hike in though:)
For this trip I bought a new Primus Classic Trail Stove and the lightweight GSI Kettle better suited for the kind of cooking I do..which is boil water. The Primus fit right in my kettle, and I think it’s a good starter stove for me, though some backpackers consider it heavy. The Primus and my GSI kettle boiled water super fast, in 2-3 mins, which is more than twice as fast as the guy at REI told me it would, yay! ( he wasn’t familiar with the GSI Kettle) Both he and my room mate have used the Primus Classic Trail Stove since they were boy scouts, and still have them, even though they also have other stoves. I also indulged and bought some Backpacker’s Pantry Food, the Pad Thai was super delish!
It rained at night and my budget Coleman Sun Dome kept us dry. As mentioned above, I unfortunately got sicker, so left early. If I had a tent with full screen doors, I probably would’ve stayed, and just laid in my sleeping bag and relaxed. But as written in my review of this tent, it’s one downfall for me is that the windows are so high, that I have to sit up on my knees to see, and Chico has to stand on his hind legs. Pulling the rain fly off for sky viewing wasn’t an option as water was still dripping from the trees, and it was a bit windy and cold for that.
So I’ve started looking at upgrading my tent and going lighter in the process. I’ve narrowed it down to the Nemo Galaxi 2 and a few Marmots. I am leaning heavy towards the Nemo Galaxi which has a lot of nice little features for dog owners such as magnetic door ties, 2 doors with larger vestibules, a venting rain fly, comes with foot print, and also has something called a paw print which is sold separate, that I would get if I got a second dog, or brought second dog along. It’s more money than I want to spend, but I will wait for a sale or REI member coupon.
I learned on this camping trip, that I need to bring something for bugs. More specifically something for Chico. Though he is protected against fleas ans ticks, the gnats, mosquitos, and black flies were just swarming on him when we were at our camp site, I felt bad. Also, everything was soaked the next morning, need to bring a camp chair or tarp to sit on, or actually, could sit in tent if it had full screen doors!