Waterfall Project: Part II

This page includes the next set of waterfalls from 51-100.  For 1-50 see Part I. For 101-150 see Part III. For 151-160 see Part IV.  

FKS = First Known Sighting; * = origin of name by author 

  1. Black Swift Falls (100 ft+): Easily the most impressive coastal waterfall in Big Sur by metrics, this falls is an impressive sight when standing beneath as Youngs Creek is propelled off the cliff.  The falls is best viewed during the winter or spring months after rains. The Ragged Point Inn is immediately above, but the falls is essentially invisible from the inn and one must take the rough, steep trail down to the coast to get a view. 
  2. Esselen Falls (30 ft est.): A gorgeous falls tucked into one of the more remote spots of the Ventana Wilderness plunges into a circular pool. Additional smaller falls above and below.
  3. Lower Esselen Falls (15 ft est.): The first falls in series of waterfalls is a beautiful drop into a circular pool. Included in the Esslen Falls video above.
  4. The Narrows (12 ft est.): The Narrows is arguably the highlight feature of the Arroyo Seco River. Moving upstream the walls alongside the river become narrower with a series of spectacular pools requiring swimming or floating. Eventually the cliffs narrow into a remarkably long slot and eventually culminates in a small waterfall.  The terrain above the falls is relatively peaceful so I can imagine the ferocity of the water when it reaches this constriction.  
  5. The Keyhole (8 ft est.): The Keyhole is a smaller version of the Narrows but still dramatic and scenic in its own right. Similar to the Narrows, the river passes over a waterfall and descends through a slot before emerging into a large pool.
  6. Yin Yang Pools (10 ft est.):  Located in the most remote corner of the Arroyo Seco River, the Yin Yang Pools are shaped like the Yin and Yang symbol with two large pools connected by a waterfall. The larger lower pool is very deep and the polished rock manifests the power with which the river flows through the canyon.
  7. Rocky Creek Falls (30 ft est.):  This is a small falls just off the Arroyo Seco River.  In high flow the falls is visible from the Indians Road a short distance from the Arryo Seco Campground and Day Use Area, but approaching the base of the falls requires wading in the river.rocky creek falls
  8. Raptor Falls (50+ ft): Positioned in an amphitheater of lush ferns and moss with stately redwoods nearby, this falls features a single impressive drop over a smooth cliff face in a wonderful setting.
  9. Salmon Creek Falls (100 ft est.): By all metrics Salmon Creek Falls is impressive: it has great volume with its location near Salmon Creek’s outlet into the ocean, its a strikingly tall falls, and the setting is stunning with a large pool, boulders and cliffs. The only detraction from an otherwise beautiful falls is its close proximity to the highway and the resultant overuse of the area and careless visitors leaving trash.

  10. Upper Salmon Creek Falls (25 ft): While only about a quarter of the height of the main Salmon Creek Falls with significantly less volume, Upper Salmon Creek falls possess a pristine and unfettered beauty that is lost at the main falls. Unlike the main falls, Upper Salmon Creek Falls is not easily accessible and it appears few venture to the shores of its large circular pool. Upper Salmon Creek Falls is a gem. Video footage in low flow above and high flow below.

  11. Turquoise Falls * (50 ft over two steps): What makes this falls special are the pools separating the falls that are surrounded by white limestone giving them a surreal turquoise color when the light hits the pools.   
  12. Cumulus Pool * (10 ft): A large pool with a distinctly emerald color and a small two step falls make for a magical setting.

  13. Tafoni Falls * (100+ ft) (FKS): A series of falls and cascades boisterously tumbles through a sandstone tafoni rock formation.
  14. Danish Falls (15 ft): What this falls lacks in height it makes up in beauty with an attractive large circular pool surrounded by nearly vertical cliffs. The setting is extremely lush with moss and ferns adorning the walls. The creek walk to approach the falls passes through a very pretty canyon with more cascades and narrow sections where the cliffs plunge into the water.  

  15. Fairy Falls * (25 ft): A small but captivating falls with two tiers and two pools etched into the bedrock of at the head of a small gorge. 
  16. Gnome Falls * (15 ft est.): Large, deep pool and pretty falls in a lush setting. 
  17. Little Ventana Falls * (~50 ft): Located at 3,400 ft at the headwaters of Ventana Creek, this falls is one of the highest altitude falls in Big Sur and is located within a falls sequence that forms a polished bedrock headwall in the Drain.

  18. Rock Slide Falls * (40 ft estimate): A picturesque falls flows into a cavernous cirque with a nice plunge pool and pretty cascades downstream.

  19. Condor Falls * (60 ft; main segment 40 ft)(FKS):  A remote and scenic waterfall with several picturesque small falls culminating in the main cataract. The falls looks and feels very similar to Sugar Falls except more vertical without a deep plunge pool. I named this falls Condor Falls since the majestic bird can often be seen flying overhead this rugged coastal canyon.                                                       

  20. Lone Pine Falls (100+ ft): A tall waterfall on Lone Pine Creek at its confluence with Ventana Mesa Creek in a remote and difficult to access region of the Ventana.  The true height of this falls can be appreciated from the opposite side of the canyon.  
  21. Estate Gorge (110 ft): A series of small falls in an extremely rugged gorge culminating in an 80 ft cataract. The lowest segment of the falls is a pretty 15 ft drop into a large plunge pool surrounded by tall cliffs. 
  22. Upper Thunder Falls * (55 ft)(FKS): Located a mile or so above Thunder Falls, this falls includes two steps, the upper step at around 15 ft and the lower step at 40 ft. The smooth bedrock surrounding the falls adds to the beauty. See above for video footage.
  23. Unicorn Falls * (30 ft): Water flows down a smooth rock face into a pool that undercuts the cliff face forming a cave. 
  24. Ambition Falls * (200 ft aggregate over half dozen steps): Ambition Falls is a series of six picturesque steps over bedrock in one of the most remote and rugged corners of the Ventana Wilderness. The video below shows the falls from bottom to top.

  25. Endeavor Falls * (35 ft est.): A pretty falls in one of the most remote spots in the Ventana Wilderness. 
  26. Couloir Falls * (60 ft aggregate)(FKS): Located in one of the most remote corners of the Ventana this falls includes three steps that are almost impossible to see all at once as the watercourse curves around a rock spire.  
  27. Firehose Falls (15 ft est.): Located on Jackson Creek near its confluence with the Little Sur River, Firehose Falls spits off a ledge like a fire hose into a pretty pool surrounded by ferns and moss. See video footage of Firehose Falls in the Little Sur Circular Pools video above.
  28. Forbidden Falls * (40 ft, 15 ft for main drop) (FKS):  Forbidden Falls plunges into a narrow and polished slot canyon, the culmination of numerous slides and pools. The falls is relatively short but the immense canyon walls and numerous pools and cascades in the canyon provide a majestic setting.
  29. Higgins Creek Falls aka Buddha Bowl (9 ft): What makes this falls special is the spectacular rock bowl and deep pool in which the small falls plunges.
  30. Luna Falls * (60+ ft): A picturesque falls in a lush setting. 

  31. Coho Falls * (35 ft): 

  32. Cylinder Gorge Falls (20 ft): This falls drops into a sculpted gorge with a cavernous pool. 
  33. McWay Falls (75 ft): McWay Falls is an iconic spot and probably the most photographed natural feature in Big Sur. This is a must stop for tourists driving Highway 1 and there is often a line of cars parked along the road. Sometimes the area feels like the international terminal at SFO. The falls overlook is accessed by a paved path that is under a quarter mile. The many visitors to McWay Falls range from selfie enthusiasts to professional photographers. Thank goodness access to McWay Falls beach is forbidden and even for the non-law abiding crowd it’s not an easy proposition to get down to the beach (people have been rescued trying). Thus, even if the overlook is a zoo, you can forget about the crowds when you look out onto the picturesque scene of the falls tumbling into the pristine turquoise waters and an untrammeled beach.    
  34. Upper McWay Falls (35 ft): Heading up McWay Canyon from the iconic McWay Falls one passes through redwoods and several smaller cascades before arriving at another pretty falls which flows over an overhang into a small nook. Photo album.  

  35. Upper Devils Falls * (25 ft): More of a horizontal slide, this picturesque falls includes a hanging fern garden and Santa Lucia Firs nearby. 
  36. Lower Discovery Falls * (40 ft):  This two tiered falls plunges through old growth redwoods and guards access to the larger Discovery Falls above.
  37. Pico Blanco Camp Falls (15 ft est.): Pico Blanco Camp Falls is a lovely spot along the South Fork Little Sur River set amid old growth redwoods with a carpet of redwood sorrel. The falls is not large, but includes a blue pool beneath it and a lush surrounding of moss and ferns.  Downstream of the falls is a spectacular narrows along the South Fork Little Sur River. 
  38. The Bathtubs (40 ft cumulative): A series of three steps with pools in between shaped like bathtubs. The highest bathtub is by far the largest and deepest.


  39. Pick Narrows (15 ft cumulative): Two small falls separated by sculpted pools passing through a picturesque narrows.  0005
  40. Lower Pine Falls (est. 100 ft aggregate): Located less than a quarter of a mile downstream of Pine Falls, it appears few people know about Lower Pine Falls but it’s an impressive sight and very different in character from Pine Falls making it worthy of a visit. There is no large pool at Lower Pine Falls. Instead, the falls is a series of large cascades over smooth bedrock scrubbed clean of moss. This smooth bedrock is rather hazardous for climbing, but a hand line has been placed in the most precarious spot to assist. It’s a rather chaotic scene as the falls tumbles down the numerous steps strewn with large boulders and sculptured bedrock. The highest segment of the falls is the most impressive and concentrated while lower down the water course splits. This would be an amazing falls to see in higher flow.  
  41. Aperture Falls * (50 ft aggregate) (FKS): A three-tiered waterfall in a lush setting of ferns and moss. The lower tier is picturesque cascade, the middle tier is a small drop, and the upper tier is the most impressive as it slices through a narrow gap in the cliffs and plunges around 25 ft.

  42. Imaginary Falls * (35 ft) (FKS): Tucked into an extremely lush nook, one can easily pass near this falls and not notice it. When in flow, the falls takes on a very pretty shape interacting with the vegetation and cliffs.

  43. Spectre Falls * (several steps 300 ft aggregate)(FKS): Spectre Falls is a particularly wild section of creek with oven a dozen steps totaling 300 vertical feet. The tallest segments are around 60 ft. The drainage includes heavy mineral accumulation as even redwoods next to the stream have mineral crust plastered to their bark from the waterfall spray. The mineral accumulation has resulted in some pretty shallow pools. 

  44. Lion Gorge and Circular Pool (15 ft): Deep and rugged gorge in the lower part of Lion Creek culminates in a circular pool with a 15 ft falls. Additional pools and cascades upstream of the falls. 
  45. Ghostly Falls (100 ft aggreagte): Ghostly Falls is composed of a series of cascades and falls totaling over 100 ft in the aggregate. The bottom segment is the most vertical and includes a small plunge pool. The falls is located just upstream of where the Nacimiento-Ferguson road crosses a tributary of Mill Creek. 

  46. Limekiln Falls (90 ft): Limekiln Falls is located near the bottom of the Middle Fork Limekiln Creek which drains the region between Twin Peak and Cone Peak. It seems like everything in this region is grand and Limekiln Falls is no different. Unless flow is particularly high, the falls is split into two prongs. The cataract is easily accessed from the main area of Limekiln State Park and includes passage through a lush redwood forest complete with a dense carpet of sorrel.  
  47. Mutt & Jeff Falls (Jeff 35 ft; Mutt 110 ft): Named by Dr. Jack Glendening after a comic strip named Mutt and Jeff created in 1907 lasting through 1983 with a tall and thin Mutt character and his short friend Jeff. In this case, the short Jeff Falls is the real attraction as it’s along the main stem of Santa Lucia Creek. After recent heavy rain Jeff Falls roars over a 35 cliff into a large, deep pool. Tall and thin Mutt Falls is located next to Jeff Falls on a small tributary with a series of steps totaling over 100 ft but never has high volume and is likely a trickle for a large potion of the year. The two falls can be viewed in tandem. See video footage of Jeff Falls in the Last Chance Falls video above.  Photo album on Jeff Falls.  
  48. Villa Cascades * (50 ft aggregate): A series of small falls and cascades interspersed with relatively deep pools in a pretty redwood and Santa Lucia Fir forest.
  49. Confluence Falls (50 ft): This falls is situated right at the confluence of two streams. The main stem creek has the tallest cascade but the smaller fork also has a falls. The two falls flows into a nice pool where the two forks of the creek officially meet. 
  50. Ventana Cone Falls * (35 ft)(FKS):  This two-step falls is in an extremely remote corner of the Ventana on an unnamed tributary of the Carmel River that drains the north side of the region between Ventana cone and the Ventana Spires.

For 101-150 see Part III.