Ken Harth Waterfall

Novato / Indian Valley Preserve, California, USA

About Ken Harth Waterfall


Hiking Distance: 1.6 miles round trip
Suggested Time: at least 1 hour

Date first visited: 2022-02-26
Date last visited: 2022-02-26

Waterfall Latitude: 38.07594
Waterfall Longitude: -122.59036

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

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.

Ken_Harth_Falls_030_02262022 - The Ken Harth Waterfall in Indian Valley Preserve not doing so well
The Ken Harth Waterfall in Indian Valley Preserve not doing so well

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.

Ken_Harth_Falls_010_02262022 - Going around the Earl Gray baseball fields within the College of Marin campus en route to the Indian Valley Preserve
Going around the Earl Gray baseball fields within the College of Marin campus en route to the Indian Valley Preserve

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.

Ken_Harth_Falls_029_02262022 - Following the narrower Ken Harth Waterfall Trail alongside its highly seasonal stream
Following the narrower Ken Harth Waterfall Trail alongside its highly seasonal stream

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.

Authorities

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.

Ken_Harth_Falls_006_02262022 - Looking back at the lot 6 by the Earl Gray Fields in the College of Marin
Ken_Harth_Falls_007_02262022 - Approaching the baseball fields at the start of the hike to the Ken Harth Waterfall Trail
Ken_Harth_Falls_012_02262022 - Beneath the baseball fields was the Indian Valley Preserve
Ken_Harth_Falls_014_02262022 - Gate marking the boundary of the Indian Valley Preserve and the College of Marin campus
Ken_Harth_Falls_015_02262022 - Apparently, there were some sensitive habitat in the Indian Valley Preserve despite the amount of local walkers and their pets that would use the trails here, especially on the weekends
Ken_Harth_Falls_018_02262022 - Following the wide Indian Valley Trail on the way to the junction with the Ken Harth Waterfall Trail
Ken_Harth_Falls_020_02262022 - Looking across a pond by the Indian Valley Trail where apparently endemic frogs would habitate
Ken_Harth_Falls_022_02262022 - Looking towards some grassy hills with offshoot trails deviating from the Indian Valley Trail
Ken_Harth_Falls_024_02262022 - Taking the Ken Harth Waterfall Trail as I left the Indian Valley Trail, but I kept to keep right at this fork to stay by the stream
Ken_Harth_Falls_027_02262022 - It definitely wasn't a good sign that the creek had very little to no water on the way to the Ken Harth Waterfall
Ken_Harth_Falls_030_02262022 - Checking out wet rocks at the Ken Harth Waterfall as this waterfall was only trickling during my February 2022 visit
Ken_Harth_Falls_033_02262022 - Another look at the Ken Harth Waterfall fronted by wet rocks but very little flow
Ken_Harth_Falls_039_02262022 - Closer look at the Ken Harth Waterfall as seen on my late February 2022 visit
Ken_Harth_Falls_040_02262022 - Another look at the Ken Harth Waterfall not doing so well during my late February 2022 visit
Ken_Harth_Falls_044_02262022 - Returning the way I came after having had a brief visit to the Ken Harth Waterfall
Ken_Harth_Falls_049_02262022 - Approaching the lot 6 parking lot to end my brief excursion to the Ken Harth Waterfall


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

Ken_Harth_Falls_001_iPhone_02262022 - Entering the College of Marin at the end of Ignacio Blvd
Entering the College of Marin at the end of Ignacio Blvd

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).

Ken_Harth_Falls_001_02262022 - The parking machine at Lot 6 within the College of Marin campus
The parking machine at Lot 6 within the College of Marin campus

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

Ken_Harth_Falls_002_02262022 - Looking across the parking lot 6 by the Earl Gray Fields within the College of Marin at Indian Valley
Looking across the parking lot 6 by the Earl Gray Fields within the College of Marin at Indian Valley

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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Showing the trickling waterfall while going upstream to the main drop


Showing the trickling waterfall while going downstream towards the intermediate tier

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Tagged with: novato, indian valley, marin county, bay area waterfall



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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