Faux Falls

Ken's Lake / Spanish Valley / near Moab / San Juan County, Utah, USA

Rating: 2.5     Difficulty: 2
Faux Falls backed by the beautiful cliffs of Spanish Valley

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Faux Falls was another one of the waterfalling surprises during our return trip to Moab, Utah in 2017. Like the name suggests the waterfall was technically not real ("faux" is French for something that's not genuine) as it was created by a diversion tunnel siphoning some of Mill Creek (the same stream responsible for Mill Creek Falls) through some tunnels and eventually feeding Ken's Lake. With water being such a precious resource, the state of Utah was no stranger to diversions resulting in waterfalls for we've seen at least two instances of this at the "Freemont River Falls" and the "Mossy Cave Falls". But Faux Falls had the scenery to augment its scenic allure, and we generally thought of it as on par with other diverted waterfalls like Cascata delle Marmore in Terni, Italy and Oxararfoss in Iceland. Yet, perhaps what this waterfall had going for it in addition to scenic allure was the chance to beat the desert heat of Southeastern Utah by being refreshed by the waterfall's spray or dipping the feet in a calm part of the diverted stream. There were even campsites between Ken's Lake and the waterfall trail/road making this one of the better recreational spots of this region.

I began my hike from a little parking area right before an access road became 4wd (see directions below). I felt that I had to walk the 4wd road (which was about a half-mile long but very rocky and sandy) so I didn't have the confidence to take a high-clearance passenger vehicle on it even though it might have made it with some real slow and careful driving. Faux Falls was already visible from the start of the 4wd road, but it pretty much went in and out of view until I got towards the end of the road where the falls became more consistently visible once again. At the end of the road, there was a little sandy cul-de-sac where a wooden fence marked the beginning of the official trail.

Even though the view of Faux Falls was already pretty impressive from this spot, I continued on the short trail, which descended to a junction where I first went left to access the base of the waterfall. I saw people on the other side of the rushing stream so it was possible to cross, but it would require getting wet. Still, that would be a worthwhile trade if you came prepared to get wet, especially if the goal was to cool off by the falls in the first place. Anyways, back at the trail junction, the main trail then ascended alongside the cascading waterfall, eventually reaching the brink of the main section of cascades. The trail actually continued to ascend maybe less than 0.2 miles beyond the waterfall, eventually reaching some kind of pullout and gate near the diversion tunnel that was responsible for the waterfall's existence. I was actually at that pullout earlier when I drove up there accidentally after missing the correct turnoff for the trailhead, so I guess that could be a possibility in terms of shortening the hike or if parking was unavailable at the official trailhead.

Overall, I had spent about 75 minutes away from the car. By choosing to walk the half-mile 4wd road, that made the 1/4-mile hike to get close to the falls become more like 1.25 miles round trip. It was hard to say how seasonal or how often this waterfall would flow, but it was definitely gushing during our trip in late April 2017. I had to believe that the amount of snow we saw that was still on the neighboring La Sal Mountains had something to do with it. Either way, when the falls would flow, it was said to be the biggest waterfall in the Moab area. While there were a couple dozen people coming in and out of the waterfall's vicinity, it didn't feel like there was a big crush of people here so it could very well still be like a local's secret.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Moab was the base of visits to Arches National Park, where we could see the rock formations that the park was known for such as Delicate Arch (the Utah state symbol) backed by the La Sal MountainsMoab was the base of visits to Arches National Park, where we could see the rock formations that the park was known for such as Delicate Arch (the Utah state symbol) backed by the La Sal Mountains
Arches National Park was very popular for good reason as there were countless natural arches that were easily accessible. Shown here was the impressive Double Arch in the Windows SectionArches National Park was very popular for good reason as there were countless natural arches that were easily accessible. Shown here was the impressive Double Arch in the Windows Section
Not to be outdone, but Moab was also the base for visits to the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park, where the sunrise at Mesa Arch had become quite the photo event in recent yearsNot to be outdone, but Moab was also the base for visits to the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park, where the sunrise at Mesa Arch had become quite the photo event in recent years
In addition to Arches and Canyonlands, Moab was also a good base for exploring Dead Horse Point, which was like a mini-Grand Canyon as the Colorado River goosenecked its way through the red canyonsIn addition to Arches and Canyonlands, Moab was also a good base for exploring Dead Horse Point, which was like a mini-Grand Canyon as the Colorado River goosenecked its way through the red canyons
This was the 2wd trailhead parking on the right while the 4wd Faux Falls Rd continued straight aheadThis was the 2wd trailhead parking on the right while the 4wd road continued straight ahead

Here's a closer look at the kind of surface you'd have to be dealing with if you choose to drive the 4wd Faux Falls RdHere's a closer look at the kind of surface you'd have to be dealing with if you choose to drive the 4wd road

I kept right at this sign as the path on the left appeared to access the creek as well as some trails linking with the Ken's Lake campsitesI kept right at this sign as the path on the left appeared to access the creek as well as some trails linking with Ken's Lake campsites

Looking back at some jeep making the rough drive to get closer to Faux FallsLooking back at some jeep making the rough drive to get closer to the falls

Much of the 4wd Faux Falls Rd was sandyMuch of the 4wd road was sandy

Approaching the Faux Falls while walking the Faux Falls RdApproaching the waterfall while walking the 4wd road

Making it to the end of the 4wd Faux Falls Rd and now starting the actual trail to get closer to Faux Falls itselfMaking it to the end of the 4wd road and now starting the actual trail to get closer to the falls itself

Closer look at the Faux Falls in context with the impressive pinnacles behind itCloser look at the falls in context with the impressive pinnacles behind it

Making it to the refreshing base of Faux FallsMaking it to the refreshing base of the waterfall

More contextual look at Faux Falls from further downstreamMore contextual look at the falls from further downstream

Some colorful wildflowers in bloom near Faux Falls in late April 2017Some colorful wildflowers in bloom near Faux Falls in late April 2017

Looking downstream across the brink of the main drops of Faux Falls towards Ken's Lake in the distanceLooking downstream across the brink of the main drops of the falls towards Ken's Lake in the distance

Looking up along the upper cascades of Faux Falls with the tall cliffs as backdropLooking up along the upper cascades of Faux Falls with the tall cliffs as backdrop

After having my fill of Faux Falls, I went back on this short trail leading to the 4wd roadAfter having my fill of the falls, I went back on this short trail leading to the 4wd road

This couple was headed back on the 4wd Faux Falls Rd towards their truck, which saved them quite a bit of walking timeThis couple was headed back on the 4wd road towards their truck, which saved them quite a bit of walking time

The high clearance truck making its way out of the 4wd Faux Falls RdThe high clearance truck making its way out of the 4wd road

Earlier on, I had missed the correct turnoff and wound up driving higher up Flat Pass Rd to this pullout and gate well above Faux FallsEarlier on, I had missed the correct turnoff and wound up driving higher up Flat Pass Rd to this pullout and gate well above the waterfall

Commanding view over the Faux Falls area towards Ken's Lake and Spanish ValleyCommanding view over the Faux Falls area towards Ken's Lake and Spanish Valley


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Full sweep showing Faux Falls and its surroundings from the end of the 4wd road


Video showing the base of the main drop of Faux Falls from a couple of different spots


Video showing near the top of the falls from a couple of different spots


360 degree sweep from an unpaved road near the top of Faux Falls providing views over the falls as well as Kens Lake well downstream. This view overshot the turnoff for trailhead parking


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

From Main Street (US191) in downtown Moab, I continued driving south along the US191 for about 7 miles south of town. I then turned left onto Old Airport Rd (there was also signage pointing the way to Ken's Lake). We then drove for about 0.6 miles on Old Airport Rd to a T-intersection, where we then turned right to go onto Spanish Valley Drive / La Sal Loop Rd. We'd continue driving along Spanish Valley Drive for about 0.6 miles before we kept left at a fork, which now put us onto Geyser Pass Rd / La Sal Loop Rd. We then took this road for the next 0.9 miles before turning left at a four-way junction to go onto Flat Pass Rd (County Road 125). We then drove along this unpaved road for the next mile before turning left towards Campsites 13-16.

Almost immediately after going on this turnoff to the Ken's Lake campsites 13-16, there was the trailhead parking on the right next to some signage. If you're confident in your vehicle's ability to withstand the rough conditions on the last half-mile (Faux Falls Road), then you can save yourself the additional half-mile (one-mile round trip) walk. Overall, it took me 15-20 minutes to make this drive between Moab and the 2wd trailhead parking by Ken's Lake campsites 13-16.

If you happen to miss the turnoff for campsites 13-16, then the Flat Pass Rd would continue climbing up to a different pullout with a gate well above the top of Faux Falls. I saw at least one lady park here and scramble her way down a trail-of-use to the waterfall itself. It was quite possibly less than a quarter-mile round trip from here.

For geographical context, the town of Moab was about 113 miles (under 2 hours drive) west of Grand Junction, Colorado, 54 miles (under an hour drive) north of Monticello, 234 miles (over 3.5 hours drive) southeast of Salt Lake City, 339 miles (under 5 hours drive) northeast of St George, and 725 miles (over 10 hours drive) northeast of Los Angeles.


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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.


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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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