Peppermint Creek Falls is a very pretty 150ft waterfall tumbling over a rounded granite surface with views towards the Dome Land Wilderness. Since getting to the falls involves driving the Lloyds Meadow Road (see directions below), you'll get to glimpse the Needles - an unusual formation that is also known as a difficult rock climbing route.
Getting a good view of the falls required a rather steep scramble towards the base of the falls. Even though the scramble was only 1/4-mile (each way), we definitely had to take our time since the terrain was both slick (from the loose pebbles) and the incline was severe enough that going down was a little scary and going up required the use of our hands in some spots.
While we were busy concentrating on not taking a nasty fall during the descent, we did manage to notice some satisfying profile views of the rounded granite surface and the waterfall that tumbled over it. Then, once we made it to the bottom, we got nice direct views as Peppermint Creek tumbled in multiple tiers while twisting towards the left.
The first time Julie and I were here (back in 2002), there weren't a whole lot of people. Just a handful of people above the falls at the Lower Peppermint Campground and even fewer people who managed to do the scramble to get to the base. The last time we were here with the parents in 2005, there were lots more people crowding the Lower Peppermint Campground (maybe because it was Memorial Day weekend) as well as chilling out at the very top of the falls. But at the bottom of the falls, we were one of the few who made it down here so it was still nice and peaceful!
Look for the Lower Peppermint Campground turnoff a little over 11 miles on Lloyds Meadow Road from its junction with Hwy 99/Sierra Way (this junction was just east of the Johnsondale R-Ranch). Note that during much of the drive north on Lloyds Meadow Road, the Needles formation is easily seen.
Look for parking somewhere along the Lower Peppermint Campground road if you have a 2wd vehicle. Technically, there's an official car park a little further on the road unpaved turnoff, but you have to get over a real steep sandy hill with deep ruts that I figure only a 4wd can make. So without a gas guzzler, you mind as well walk that part (like we did).
The scramble begins just beyond the "formal" car park that only the gas guzzlers can make.
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