Nobe Young Falls was once the secret treasure of the Sequoia National Forest. Now that the secret is out, it's no longer surprising to find other folks enjoying this rather obscure waterfall though that still doesn't mean you can have the falls to yourself if you avoid the weekends or come in the morning.
What made this waterfall obscure was that there were neither signposts nor obvious hints of its presence. It was basically our Ann Marie Brown book that essentially clued us in on the approximate location of the falls, but then we had to do our own bit of investigating to figure out how to access it.
Once we figured out where to park the car (see directions below), we followed a trail briefly paralleling Hwy 190 (Western Divide Highway) until the trail forked and went past an old fire pit. That was when we started to hear the waterfall. So at that point, we had to figure out which of the many steep angler paths to scramble down to see the source of the noise. At this point, the waterfall was concealed to us thanks to the thick overgrowth and trees between the trail and Nobe Young Creek.
On our first visit in 2002, we actually continued on the main trail further downstream where we saw perhaps about as much of Nobe Young Falls as we were going to see. From this vantage point, we could see some upper cascades before the falls made its dramatic 100ft or so plunge. We were fortunate to see as much of the falls as we did on that first trip because when we came back here in 2005, that same view was mostly overgrown.
Anyways, we managed to figure out a particular descending path that wasn't terribly dangerous, and it led us right to the base of the main plunge of the falls. In 2005, we managed to do the same scramble, but someone had placed a ribbon at the start of the scramble to provide a hint of which way to scramble down.
Once we were at the bottom of the falls, we could see that there was a large alcove behind the falls that practically beckoned for us to go behind it. We figured out that there was a steep path to the left of the falls that led up another use trail that led right into the alcove as well as some profile views of the falls (pictured at the top of this page). We definitely had to be cautious on this scramble because there was exposure to dropoffs and some of the footing could be slippery when wet.
There was plenty of room in this alcove as it seemed like there was evidence of people camping in here or even drinking. However, we had to be very careful not to get too close to the dropoffs behind Nobe Young Falls because the ground was sloping towards the wet surface from the moving spray of the waterfall, and a slip and fall here would most certainly be fatal.
All told, Julie and I probably spent around an hour or so on that first visit since we had a bit of trouble finding the falls in the first place. However, on subsequent visits, we had a better idea of which way to go so we were able to get to the falls and back in less than a half-hour or so including the time spent lingering. The total distance was probably no more than a mile round trip (though it was quite possibly even shorter than that).
Nobe Young Falls was near the Ponderosa Lodge, which itself was about ??? hours drive east of Porterville along the Hwy 190, which became the Western Divide Highway. Porterville was roughly 2.5 hours drive (without traffic) north of Los Angeles via Bakersfield on the Hwy 65.
To access the falls, we continued driving south of Ponderosa Lodge on the Western Divide Highway (Hwy 190) for 6.7 miles just past the bridge over Nobe Young Creek. If you're coming from the south, it's 1 mile north of Camp Whitsett. The dirt pullout where you can park the car is unsigned and on the east side of Hwy 190 so you'll have to watch your odometer and keep your eyes peeled for the little car park.
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