Codfish Falls Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"The trail to Codfish Falls has the flavor of an alpine adventure, skimming through a secluded portion of the North Fork American River canyon to a pretty, tucked-away cascade. Summer in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada is a time of unrelenting sun. Where better to beat it than along the American River and in the narrow canyon cooled by Codfish Falls. The trail leading to these secluded falls follows the North Fork American River, skirting cool pools that invite side trips to sandbars and rocky beaches along the riverbank. The falls flow down a jumble of dark rocks in a shady enclave just north of the river valley. They run year-round and water a pocket of verdant mosses, oaks, and grasses in an otherwise parched environment. Ponderosa Way, which dives into the American River canyon from Weimar, offers a huge hint at how out-of bounds this stretch of trail in the Auburn State Recreation Area is."
--Tracy Salcedo-Chourre, Best Easy Day Hikes: Sacramento (Falcon Guides).
"This is either a great hike with a wonderful swim at the end or a fantastic swim with a sweet hike. Either way, the hike leads you to a beautiful 40-foot waterfall with lovely pools beneath smaller cascades. Codfish Falls Trail is an easy trail with interpretive signs along a scenic section of the North Fork of the American River. Start for the trailhead by following the wildly curvy, dust-laden Ponderosa Way. Your view to the bottom of the canyon is unimpeded by guardrails as the road hugs the slope. As you approach the river, the bridge across the North Fork comes into view. It’s amazing that the bridge is still standing, but yes, you can drive across it. And it’s another good story to tell."
--Jordan Summers, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Sacramento (Menasha Ridge Press).
"The trail to Codfish Falls skims through a secluded portion of the North Fork American River canyon to a pretty cascade tucked away in a narrow gorge."
--Tracy Salcedo-Chourré, Hiking Waterfalls in Northern California (Falcon Guides).
"The trail to Codfish Falls has the flavor of an alpine adventure, skimming through a secluded portion of the North Fork American River canyon to a pretty cascade tucked away in a narrow gorge."
--Tracy Salcedo- Chourre, Best Hikes Near Sacramento (Falcon Guides).
"Granted, the Codfish Creek Trail takes a bit to get to, but the views are worth the trip. It’s an easy trail, gaining just over 100 feet in a little more than 3 miles. In the springtime—the best time to go, really—the trail comes alive with several species of wildflowers and butterflies, which are attracted to flowers’ sweet nectar. And of course, the terminus of this hike is a spectacular, 40-foot waterfall, which usually dries up in the summer. An excellent brochure detailing the area’s flora and fauna is available at a discovery marker located 0.25 mile from the trailhead across the sandy beach. The pamphlet was written and illustrated by Heather K. Mehl for her 2001 senior project at Colfax High School, according to the good folks at the Auburn State Recreation Area."
--Thom Gabrukiewicz, Best Hikes with Dogs: Bay Area & Beyond (The Mountaineers Books).
"Granted, the Codfish Creek Trail takes a bit to get to, but the views are worth the trip. It’s an easy trail, gaining just over 100 feet in a little more than 3 miles. In the springtime—the best time to go, really—the trail comes alive with several species of wildflowers and butterflies, which are attracted to flowers’ sweet nectar. And of course, the terminus of this hike is a spectacular, 40-foot waterfall, which usually dries up in the summer."
--Jason Fator, Best Hikes With Dogs: San Francisco Bay Area and Beyond (The Mountaineers Books).
"This is an excellent walk for families with children. It packs a lot of scenery into a short, easy hike along the beautiful North Fork American River, with pretty Codfish Falls as the destination. The spring wildflower display is wonderful, and the languid pools of the North Fork invite you to cool off from the summer heat. It’s a perfect half-day trip just a short drive from Sacramento."
--Steven L. Evans, Top Trails Sacramento (Wilderness Press).
The last two miles of the drive in to the trailhead is a little steep and nerving...a 4x4 and/or high clearance vehicle is a plus. You will find the trail beginning when you get down to the river; roadside parking is limited. There are a couple of porta-potties there if needed. The trail itself is pretty easy and straight forward; not a lot of elevation changes. Some spots are narrow, so passing people going the oppisite direction (especially when you each have dogs), needs to be taken slowly. You end up at the waterfall, which is nice, but lacking in room when many people are there at the same time. BRING TECNU OR HAVE IT HANDY AFTER HIKE...POISEN OAK GALORE!
Lovely little trail all in all. The guide mentions that the paved road turns to dirt. The reality is that Ponderosa Way lasts a little more than 2 miles of VERY windy road (Dramamine for everybody including the dog!) and then, at the entrance to the park turns into a deeply rutted, very steep, narrow dirt road with continuous blind corners for nearly 3 miles all the way down to the water. Regular cars can make it, although we had to take it very slow with our low clearance Prius.
Although the trail is listed as easy, and in fact this is true for the most part, the trail begins with a steep scramble up an eight foot or so rise consisting mostly of crumbling shale, difficult for my legally blind husband, and painful for my friend with sciatica. However it’s worth the effort to get to the rest of the hike.
The trail is eroded in several places with dangerous slides... our dog slipped on one and had to scramble back to the trail searching frantically for anything to get a foothold, so be careful with little ones and don’t let them run too far ahead.
In May the falls were a fairly impressive but gentle cascade with rocks on either side to scramble up or down. Considering this is listed as a little known gem, I was surprised to find so many people there. There was a pretty constant trickle in and out of hikers, averaging about three groups at a time. Dogs went mostly off leash and had fun wading about together in the little pools and scrambling around on the rocks.
If you can handle the tough drive down (allow about half an hour just for this) and the steep initial scramble, it’s a great way to spend the day!
Getting to the trailhead was one of the more tricky parts of this trail as you need a high clearance vehicle to make it down the road to the parking area. The trail is easy and falls were spectacular. *WARNING* there is a LOT of poison oak in the area so watch the wee ones. I recommend this trail in the spring as it tends to dry up to a trickle in summer/fall
The trail is beautiful, however the unpaved road to get there is a nightmare. I seriously suggest parking at the top of the hill, where the paved road ends and hiking down the unpaved road to the trailhead.
Other than that everything was beautiful. There are a number of outhouses along the trail, and the waterfall is beautiful.
Great Family Hike. Not much of elevation gain, well marked trail. Unfortunately the falls were all but dried up this weekend. But we plan on returning this fall and winter. Excelent swimming at the trail head. Perfect to cool off after a hot summer hike!
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