Silver Falls and Golden Cascade

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California, USA

Static Google Map of Silver Falls and Golden Cascade

About Silver Falls and Golden Cascade


Hiking Distance: 12-13 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 7-8 hours

Date first visited: 2010-04-10
Date last visited: 2010-04-10

Waterfall Latitude: 37.17905
Waterfall Longitude: -122.2722

Silver Falls and Golden Cascade are the series of waterfalls closer to the Sunset Trail section of the grand loop hike involving Berry Creek Falls.

We didn’t actually do the entire loop hike (opting to do the out-and-back hike instead to shorten the amount of hiking), but we figured that since we came all the way to Berry Creek Falls, we mind as well extend the hike by another mile or so and check out the series of waterfalls that include both Silver Falls and the Golden Cascade. In fact, there was enough to say about these waterfalls without cluttering the other page so we’ve devoted this page for them.

Both Silver Falls and Golden Cascade maybe so named because of the color of the underlying rocks over which the water flowed. We didn’t quite see neither the silver nor golden colored rocks behind the waterfalls, but then again, we visited under cloudy conditions. Perhaps if sunlight struck these falls, perhaps we would’ve been able to better understand why the waterfalls were so named.

Anyways, as we were coming from Berry Creek Falls’ viewing platform, the trail climbed up onto a ledge as it went past the top of Berry Creek Falls. Then, the trail continued for another mile through seemingly damp and mossy terrain amidst a more tall coastal redwood trees.

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Silver Falls as seen through foliage on the trail
Eventually, the next waterfall we encountered was the so-called Silver Falls. I thought what made Silver Falls attractive were the fallen logs criss-crossing its base in addition to its vertical drop and colorful underlying rock. The best view was right in front of it, but that required us to leave the trail and cross a shallow stream along with some additional scrambling past some fallen logs. There was a sign discouraging scrambling near the revegetation area so the scrambling that we did to get a better view was from further downstream.

Beyond Silver Falls, the trail ascended steps carved into the rock while on narrow ledge hugging a steep rock face. As we continued to ascend, we found ourselves right next to the top part of Silver Falls. And it was in this section of the trail that we could envision at high flow that the waterfall might actually flow over the wet-and-slippery trail. Moreover, had we come here from the Sunset Trail, this section would’ve forced a pretty steep and tricky descent.

Once at the top of the rock steps, we were greeted with another small but attractive pair of cascades. I believe this was the lowest section of the Golden Cascade. Continuing the climb up the trail, we stood before a long cascading tier that I’m calling the middle section of the Golden Cascade. This part was probably the tallest section of the Golden Cascade, and like Silver Falls, we imaged that the underlying rock would give off that golden color under the right light.

Beyond this middle section, the trail continued onwards to the upper section. There were two attractive tiers where the larger upper tier even had a bit of a travertine overhang giving this falls some character. It was this falls that seemed to draw the most people as we shared it with several other small groups of hikers who decided to picnic here.

This was the turnaround point of the hike for us, but the trail did continue up more switchbacks before hooking up with the Sunset Trail (to complete the loop) or to the Sunset Campground.

One last thing I want to say about these falls is that I tend to get Silver Falls and Golden Cascade mixed up. The easy way for me to get the nomenclature straight is to associate Silver Falls as the one with the vertical drop and the Golden Cascade as the multi-sectioned watersliding cascades immediately upstream. Also, Golden Cascade feeds Silver Falls (the bottommost field).

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Since these waterfalls share the same trailhead as that of Berry Creek Falls, see the Berry Creek Falls page for detailed driving directions. Moreover, since Silver Falls and Golden Cascade are actually an extension of the Berry Creek Falls hike, please see that page for the trail descriptions leading up to what’s described on this page.

For additional context, San Jose was 56 miles (over an hour drive) south of San Francisco or 341 miles (about 5.5 hours drive) north of Los Angeles.

Bottom up sweep from directly in front of the falls


Bottom up sweep along the falls trying to convey the unusual trail that goes right besides the top of the falls


Bottom up sweep of the middle section of the Golden Cascades


Bottom up sweep from right next to the uppermost of the Golden Cascades we saw

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Tagged with: big basin, redwoods, state park, santa cruz, san jose, santa clara, bay area, central coast, california, waterfall, silicon valley, skyline to the sea, kelly creek, waddell beach

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