About Ken Harth Waterfall
The Ken Harth Waterfall (or just Ken Harth Falls) was the most noteworthy waterfall on the Ken Harth Waterfall Trail, which was easily accessed through the campus of the College of Marin in Novato, California.
Visiting this waterfall felt weird in that I actually had to enter a college campus, then walk around a pair of baseball fields (bringing me back to my baseball-playing days), and then entering the Indian Valley Preserve on the backside of campus.
The major catch with this waterfall (as well as most of the Marin County “Neighborhood Waterfalls”) draining into the suburbs to the east is that its highly seasonal flow, which you can see in the photo above.
My visit took place in late February 2022, which is a time that you’d typically expect there to be at least some water since that’s in the heart of California’s “wet season”.
However, with Global Warming, we’ve been having a pattern with feast or famine precipitation years, and this was exemplified when we had a series of heavy saturation rains in December and then a dry January and February thereafter.
Really, only locals or the lucky ones who happened to be visiting shortly after heavy rain would be able to see this waterfall flow well.
As for accessing the Ken Harth Waterfall Trail, I first had to park by the Earl Gray Fields on the far western end of the College of Marin Campus (see directions below).
Then, I had to walk roughly a quarter-mile past the two baseball fields and bleachers before entering the Indian Valley Preserve.
Right at the preserve, there was a fork in the trail where I could have followed the Pacheco Pond Fire Road to access the top end of the Ken Harth Waterfall Trail.
However, I kept straight ahead on the wide Indian Valley Trail for another 0.2-mile or so before reaching the signed junction with the narrower Waterfall Trail on the left.
From there, I then followed the stream for another 0.3-mile before reaching the rocky bed where the namesake Ken Harth Waterfall was at.
It would have been another 0.7-mile or so to continue hiking along the Waterfall Trail back to the baseball fields to complete the loop hike, but given that there wasn’t much water during my visit, I just went back the way I came.
Therefore, overall, I had gone about 1.4 miles round-trip, and the whole thing took less than an hour.
The Ken Harth Waterfall (or Ken Harth Falls) resides in the Indian Valley Preserve near Novato in Marin County, California. It is administered by the Marin County Parks. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.
Since I drove to the Ken Harth Waterfall Trailhead access from downtown Sonoma to the northeast, I’ll first describe the driving directions from there.
Then, I’ll describe the driving directions from San Francisco since I’d imagine the majority of visitors would likely be taking that approach from the south.
Approach From The North
From downtown Sonoma, I’d first drive south on Broadway (Hwy 12) towards its junction with the Hwy 121 after about 3.7 miles.
Then, I’d turn right and continue on Hwy 121 for the next 0.9-mile before turning left to continue on Hwy 121 and stay on it for another 6.6 miles.
The Hwy 121 eventually intersected with the Hwy 37, where I turned right and followed this road for 7.3 miles towards the 101 Freeway.
Once on the freeway, I’d then get off at the first exit, which was for Entrada Drive/Ignacio Blvd (exit 459B).
At the off-ramp, I then kept going straight until I turned right onto Ignacio Blvd, where I next followed this road into the College of Marin Campus.
The parking lot nearest to the trailhead was Lot 6 for the Earl Gray Fields, which was about 2.6 miles from the US101 Freeway off-ramp at Ignacio Blvd.
Overall, this drive would take about 30-40 minutes.
Ordinarily, there’s a $4 fee to park at this lot, but it was free during my visit in late February 2022 (though the campus gate on Ignacio Drive does have hours).
Approach From The South
From San Francisco, I’d make my way to the 101 North taking the Golden Gate Bridge and then continuing for nearly 21 miles before taking the Ignacio Blvd off-ramp (exit 459).
Once at the light, I’d then turn left onto Ignacio Blvd and follow this road all the way into College of Marin and park at Lot 6 (as above) for the baseball fields.
Barring traffic, this drive should take around 45 minutes or so.
For geographical context, Novato was 21 miles (roughly 30 minutes drive) southwest of Sonoma, 27 miles (about 30 minutes drive) south of Santa Rosa, 29 miles (over 30 minutes drive) north of San Francisco, 73 miles (under 90 minutes drive) north of San Jose, and 77 miles (under 90 minutes drive) southwest of Sacramento.
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