Pomponio Falls

La Honda / Memorial County Park, California, USA

About Pomponio Falls


Hiking Distance: 0.5 miles round trip
Suggested Time: about 30-60 minutes

Date first visited: 2019-04-22
Date last visited: 2019-04-22

Waterfall Latitude: 37.27794
Waterfall Longitude: -122.29463

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Pomponio Falls was kind of an incidental waterfall as the Memorial County Park had no literature even making mention of this waterfall.

We found out about it from an entry in our Ann Marie Brown book with some cryptic descriptions leading towards an unassuming 25ft waterfall beneath a footbridge.

Pomponio_Falls_063_04222019 - Pomponio Falls
Pomponio Falls

That said, we remembered our time in this redwoods-laced park as a possible camping destination.

After all, when we showed up, it seemed to receive far less traffic than the Big Basin Redwoods State Park that we would visit later in the day.

By the way, they were about 8 miles from each other as the crow flies, but it took a lot longer than that to make the drive.

In any case, I view this waterfall as not much of an attraction for visitors to the park, but really more for those who would camp here and find a little adventure given some time on their hands.

Finding Pomponio Falls

Pomponio_Falls_018_04222019 - Context of Julie descending to the concrete ford at the bottom of the access road between the Azalea Campground and the Sequoia Flat Campground
Context of Julie descending to the concrete ford at the bottom of the access road between the Azalea Campground and the Sequoia Flat Campground

First and foremost, I believe that when Ann Marie Brown visited this waterfall, the park was a bit different and had changed over the years.

We found neither a trail nor anything special about the campsite #12 in the Sequoia Flat Campground, which she made mention of as a starting point.

Instead, the key breakthrough was when we hiked on the road leading to the Sequoia Flat Campground from the Azalea Campground (because the road to Sequoia Flat Campground was closed).

And as we descended to a concrete ford over Pescadero Creek, that was when we spotted a sketchy path hugging the embankment of the creek in the upstream direction.

Pomponio_Falls_048_04222019 - Tahia initially following the sketchy trail along Pescadero Creek upstream from the concrete ford towards Pomponio Falls
Tahia initially following the sketchy trail along Pescadero Creek upstream from the concrete ford towards Pomponio Falls

Just as in Ann Marie Brown’s descriptions, this broken concrete path ultimately led about a couple hundred yards to the easy-to-miss Pomponio Falls.

This sketchy path had a badly eroded section that made it very difficult to traverse given how steep and slippery it was to get across.

I managed to find a way at the bottom of the eroded slide, but who knows how much longer any stable footing could be found going forward?

It was almost as if we were better off wading in Pescadero Creek in water shoes before getting past this obstacle.

Pomponio_Falls_053_04222019 - The steep and slippery eroded section of the sketchy trail to Pomponio Falls that Julie and Tahia couldn't safely get across
The steep and slippery eroded section of the sketchy trail to Pomponio Falls that Julie and Tahia couldn’t safely get across

Then, we could follow the rest of the trail, which eventually led right to the foot of Pomponio Falls.

While the presence of the footbridge atop the falls suggested there was a path from one of the campgrounds to reach it, we didn’t do it so we can’t say anything more about it.

Even if you make it to the footbridge, you’d still have to find a way down to reach the foot of Pomponio Falls.

And while I did notice a few use trails, they too were on the slippery, steep, and a bit on the sketchy side.

Pomponio_Falls_075_04222019 - Once I made it past the hard obstacle, the rest of the way to Pomponio Falls was fairly straightforward
Once I made it past the hard obstacle, the rest of the way to Pomponio Falls was fairly straightforward

Overall, if we knew exactly where to go, this excursion would take about a half-mile round trip and should take no more than a half-hour or an hour tops.

However, we did spent a good deal of time looking around for the falls so we wound up spending nearly 90 minutes here.

Authorities

Pomponio Falls resides in the Memorial County Park near Pescadero in San Mateo County, California. It is administered by the County of San Mateo Parks Department. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Pomponio_Falls_009_04222019 - Walking on the road to Sequoia Flat Campground in search of Pomponio Falls
Pomponio_Falls_012_04222019 - Tahia looking up at the impressively tall redwood trees as we were pursuing Pomponio Falls
Pomponio_Falls_013_04222019 - Checking out a banana slug crawling across the Sequoia Flat Campground Road en route to Pomponio Falls
Pomponio_Falls_016_04222019 - Julie descending to the bottom of the Sequoia Flat Campground Road, where there's a concrete ford over Pescadero Creek
Pomponio_Falls_017_04222019 - Amazingly, this sign indicated where the high water mark was during the flood in Pescadero Creek in February of 1998
Pomponio_Falls_019_04222019 - Looking downstream from the concrete ford over Pescadero Creek, which was away from the direction of Pomponio Falls, which was upstream from here
Pomponio_Falls_035_04222019 - While pursuing Pomponio Falls, we found ourselves in the Sequoia Flat Campground and noticed this chipmunk or squirrel
Pomponio_Falls_049_04222019 - The sketchy trail alongside Pescadero Creek leading towards Ponponio Falls
Pomponio_Falls_056_04222019 - After the difficult eroded scrambling obstacle, the rest of the way to Pomponio Falls was pretty straightforward
Pomponio_Falls_065_04222019 - Finally making it to Pomponio Falls
Pomponio_Falls_069_04222019 - More contextual upstream look at Pomponio Falls from right in front of it
Pomponio_Falls_073_04222019 - More angled profile look up at the Pomponio Falls
Pomponio_Falls_078_04222019 - Back on the narrow scramble along Pescadero Creek after having had my fill of Pomponio Falls
Pomponio_Falls_079_04222019 - Rejoining Julie and Tahia at the concrete ford after having visited Pomponio Falls
Pomponio_Falls_095_04222019 - Julie going back up the road leading to the Azalea Campground where we had parked our car for this Pomponio Falls excursion

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Pomponio Falls was near the town of La Honda.

I’ll describe the route from San Francisco and then we’ll describe the route from San Jose.

Driving from San Francisco to Memorial County Park

From San Francisco, the most direct route would be to take the I-280 south for roughly 32 miles to the Woodside Rd exit (Hwy 84; exit 25).

Then, we’d follow the Hwy 84 south for over 13 miles to the Pescadero Creek Road just south of the town of La Honda.

Afterwards, we’d turn left onto Pescadero Creek Road and follow it for 4.5 miles to the entrance for Memorial County Park on the left.

Once inside Memorial County Park, we would turn right and follow the campground road towards the Sequoia Flat Campground Road.

Pomponio_Falls_007_04222019 - The Sequoia Flat Campground was closed when we showed up on our April 2019 visit
The Sequoia Flat Campground was closed when we showed up on our April 2019 visit

It was closed when we showed up so we parked at the nearest campsite, which was campsite #35 in the Azalea Campground.

We then walked onto the road for Sequoia Flat Campground.

Overall, this drive would take roughly 75-90 minutes depending on traffic.

Driving from San Jose to Memorial County Park

From San Jose, the most direct route would be to take the I-280 west for nearly 22 miles to the exit 24 onto Sand Hill Rd going west.

After going west on Sand Hill Rd, we’d continue for a little over 2 miles before turning right onto Portola Rd.

We’d remain on Portola Rd for the next 0.6 miles before turning left onto the Hwy 84.

Then, we’d follow Hwy 84 south for 10 miles to the Pescadero Creek Road turnoff just south of La Honda.

Pomponio_Falls_005_04222019 - Looking back at the road inside Memorial County Park leading to the Sequoia Flat Campground turnoff
Looking back at the road inside Memorial County Park leading to the Sequoia Flat Campground turnoff

The rest of the directions could be followed just like above for the Memorial County Park.

This drive would take about an hour depending on traffic conditions.

For geographical context, San Francisco is 15 miles (roughly 30 minutes drive depending on traffic) north of Pacifica, 11 miles (over 30 minutes drive) west of Oakland, 55 miles (over an hour drive) north of San Jose, 52 miles (about 90 minutes drive) south of Napa, 96 miles (over 2 hours drive) south of Sacramento, and 382 miles (6 hours drive) north of Los Angeles.

Nearly 360 degree sweep from the base of the falls

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Tagged with: la honda, memorial county park, san francisco, san jose, california, waterfall, redwoods



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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of 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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