Uvas Canyon Waterfalls (Granuja Falls, Black Rock Falls, Upper Falls, Basin Falls, Little Falls, and Lower Falls)

Uvas Canyon County Park / Morgan Hill, California, USA

About Uvas Canyon Waterfalls (Granuja Falls, Black Rock Falls, Upper Falls, Basin Falls, Little Falls, and Lower Falls)


Hiking Distance: 2.8 miles loop
Suggested Time: 2 hours

Date first visited: 2016-05-19
Date last visited: 2016-05-19

Waterfall Latitude: 37.08561
Waterfall Longitude: -121.79282

Waterfaller Newsletter

Get over the hump of the mid-week blues! Subscribe and get exclusive curated content delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.

The Uvas Canyon Waterfalls page is where I’m describing at least six waterfalls all within close proximity to each other as part of the Waterfalls Loop Trail in Uvas Canyon County Park.

While none of these waterfalls were particularly big nor impressive, this was really a case of being in the moment and letting the cumulative effects of Nature take hold.

Uvas_Canyon_301_05192016 - Lower Falls (or Uvas Falls) - one of the Uvas Canyon Waterfalls
Lower Falls (or Uvas Falls) – one of the Uvas Canyon Waterfalls

By this, I mean witnessing these waterfalls while also being amongst impressively tall trees including coastal redwood trees all while being relaxed by the sounds of Swanson Creek.

We witnessed at least six waterfalls either in or near Swanson Creek, and they were named.

In the order that we saw them (but not the order I’d recommend), these waterfalls were called Granuja Falls, Black Rock Falls, Upper Falls, Basin Falls, Little Falls, and Lower Falls (also known as Uvas Falls).

The last waterfall (pictured above) was technically not in the Waterfalls Loop, but it was close enough to the parking lot that I decided to include it in this writeup.

Uvas_Canyon_081_05192016 - The attractive two-tiered Upper Falls - another one of the Uvas Canyon Waterfalls
The attractive two-tiered Upper Falls – another one of the Uvas Canyon Waterfalls

There was also a seventh waterfall we saw within the boundaries of Uvas Canyon County Park called Triple Falls, but it was a bit out-of-the-way compared to the waterfalls described here.

So I gave that one its own separate writeup.

Hiking to and Experiencing the Uvas Canyon Waterfalls

There were many ways to hike to and experience the Uvas Canyon Waterfalls described on this page.

However, I’ll describe it in the manner that we’d recommend for maximum enjoyment.

Uvas_Canyon_181_05192016 - Mom hiking over footbridges on the Waterfall Loop part of the Uvas Canyon Waterfalls excursion
Mom hiking over footbridges on the Waterfall Loop part of the Uvas Canyon Waterfalls excursion

We can strongly make this recommendation because we wound up doing it in the opposite direction and realized just how much more enjoyable it would have been had we done the reverse.

Overall, this hike was about 2.25 miles or so round trip.

In this hike, we managed to experience all six of the Uvas Canyon Waterfalls in a span of 2.5 hours.

This included all the times that we stopped to enjoy each waterfall.

Uvas_Canyon_067_05192016 - The Uvas Canyon Waterfalls hike was really all about the forested surroundings and its tranquility
The Uvas Canyon Waterfalls hike was really all about the forested surroundings and its tranquility

Indeed, we could only imagine how Bay Area residents could benefit from a weekend half-day trip here to experience what we’re about to detail in this write-up, especially after a healthy rain storm had passed.

Uvas Canyon Waterfalls Trail Description – from Trailhead to Granuja Falls

So starting from the Uvas Canyon County Park’s main parking lot (see directions below), we walked past the restrooms and some signs into a picnic area.

We then followed Swanson Creek generally in the upstream direction to proceed onto the trail to the waterfalls.

There were a multitude of criss-crossing trails, and this included a spur trail leading up to into Alec Canyon to the left which was for a different excursion that I won’t get into here.

Uvas_Canyon_020_05192016 - Mom at the footbridge before the Granuja Falls, which also sat at the bottom of the Waterfall Loop
Mom at the footbridge before the Granuja Falls, which also sat at the bottom of the Waterfall Loop

That said, as long as we stayed near Swanson Creek, then we’d ultimately reach the looping part of the Waterfalls Loop Trail.

That was the main hiking trail encompassing almost all of the waterfalls described on this page.

Roughly a few minutes (or a quarter-mile) into our hike, we encountered a series of small waterfalls (maybe 5-10ft each) behind a footbridge fronting it.

A sign here called it Granuja Falls, and it turned out to be the first named waterfall we encountered.

Uvas_Canyon_017_05192016 - Closeup look at a couple of tiers of Granuja Falls
Closeup look at a couple of tiers of Granuja Falls

Granuja Falls was nestled in a shaded stream, and it was just downstream from an intriguing tall tree across Swanson Creek where a sign indicated that it was a live oak tree.

Uvas Canyon Waterfalls Trail Description – from Granuja Falls to the Waterfall Loop and Little Falls

After Granuja Falls, we followed the main trail slightly uphill as it bent towards another footbridge over Swanson Creek.

Just on the other side of this bridge, there was a trail junction that turned out to be the bottom end of the Waterfall Loop Trail.

Going left (clockwise) at this junction would meander alongside Swanson Creek while keeping right (counterclockwise) on the wider trail would continue going uphill.

Uvas_Canyon_135_05192016 - Looking back at one of the footbridges on the early part of the Waterfall Loop in Uvas Canyon going in a clockwise direction
Looking back at one of the footbridges on the early part of the Waterfall Loop in Uvas Canyon going in a clockwise direction

We recommend going left at this junction first since the right side was a bit more featureless and uphill, and it was probably better suited for the return hike.

Therefore, we’ll continue the trail description in the recommended manner.

So dropping down towards Swanson Creek, the trail then crossed a few footbridges before it remained to the left of Swanson Creek.

Roughly 5-10 minutes later, the next waterfall that would be encountered was the signposted Little Falls.

Uvas_Canyon_163_05192016 - Looking towards the context of the Little Falls, which would be the first waterfall we'd encounter upstream from Granuja Falls on the Waterfalls Loop going clockwise
Looking towards the context of the Little Falls, which would be the first waterfall we’d encounter upstream from Granuja Falls on the Waterfalls Loop going clockwise

It was another small waterfall like Granuja Falls except this one tumbled some 10ft or so over a rounded rock.

Uvas Canyon Waterfalls Trail Description – from Little Falls to Upper Falls and Basin Falls

Beyond Little Falls, the trail narrowed and hugged a ledge alongside the left side of Swanson Creek.

Along the way, we noticed quite a few impressively tall trees including the odd coastal redwood tree that seemed to be very ubiquitous to the San Francisco Bay Area.

After some 10-15 minutes of hiking alongside the relaxing sounds of Swanson Creek, we would then encounter a few more footbridges and small cascades.

Uvas_Canyon_150_05192016 - Looking up at one of the tall and majestic coastal redwood trees in the Uvas Canyon County Park
Looking up at one of the tall and majestic coastal redwood trees in the Uvas Canyon County Park

Beyond these bridges, we noticed some trails criss crossing to our right, which would reach the other side of the Waterfall Loop.

So we continued further up the trail until we started to see the next waterfall shortly after a bridge crossing Swanson Creek.

This particular waterfall was signposted as Upper Falls, and it was actually an attractive two-tiered waterfall with a cumulative height of probably 30ft or so.

In our minds, this was probably the most attractive waterfall on the Waterfall Loop portion of the hike.

Uvas_Canyon_072_05192016 - The attractive two-tiered Upper Falls, which was probably the second prettiest falls in the main part of Uvas Canyon County Park, in our minds
The attractive two-tiered Upper Falls, which was probably the second prettiest falls in the main part of Uvas Canyon County Park, in our minds

In addition to experiencing the Upper Falls from its very bottom, we were also able to scramble above the lower tier to get closer to the bottom of the upper tier.

Once we had our fill of Upper Falls, we then continued walking further upstream along the main trail.

We bypassed the junction for the Contour Trail to the left, and we eventually reached a dead-end right in front of Basin Falls.

This particular waterfall was also a tiny one (maybe between 10-15ft tall), and I recalled there being a handful of mosquitoes during our mid-May 2016 visit here.

Uvas_Canyon_104_05192016 - Just a short distance upstream from the Upper Falls was the diminutive Basin Falls
Just a short distance upstream from the Upper Falls was the diminutive Basin Falls

So we didn’t linger here for long, then we turned back and headed back the way we came until we accessed the continuation of the Waterfalls Loop Trail to our left.

Uvas Canyon Waterfalls Trail Description – from Basin Falls to Black Rock Falls and the end of the Waterfall Loop

And not long after doing that, we then took another spur trail to our left (not the one for Knobcone Point).

This trail then hugged a ledge as it then went into a side gully where it went past a few smaller waterfall tiers.

It eventually reached a little lookout of the Black Rock Falls.

Uvas_Canyon_051_05192016 - Mom standing before the Black Rock Falls - another one of the Uvas Canyon Waterfalls
Mom standing before the Black Rock Falls – another one of the Uvas Canyon Waterfalls

This particular 15-20ft falls or so seemed to be a little thinner than the other waterfalls we had seen to this point.

And given the distance of the falls from the official trail, Mom even scrambled a closer for a bit of a closer look at it.

After this waterfall, we then scrambled back to the main Waterfall Loop.

It would be here that we would continue to the left and follow the wider trail all the way back to the start of the Waterfall Loop junction, and then ultimately back towards the parking lot by the trailhead.

Uvas_Canyon_253_05192016 - The picnic area near the Uvas Canyon County Park Trailhead as we headed further downstream along Swanson Creek for the Lower Falls
The picnic area near the Uvas Canyon County Park Trailhead as we headed further downstream along Swanson Creek for the Lower Falls

Just doing these five waterfalls would have taken us under 2 hours to do the roughly two-mile lollipop loop hike.

Uvas Canyon Waterfalls Trail Description – Lower Falls (Uvas Falls)

There was still one more waterfall to go, and that involved hiking along a more primitive trail skirting the south side of Swanson Creek.

So back at the parking lot, we then went through the adjacent picnic area towards Swanson Creek.

Once we were on the other side of the picnic area, we then encountered a signposted trail that quickly descended along a narrow path towards Swanson Creek itself.

Uvas_Canyon_257_05192016 - Mom following a ledge as the trail curved to our left during our pursuit of the Lower Falls
Mom following a ledge as the trail curved to our left during our pursuit of the Lower Falls

We then turned right to follow Swanson Creek downstream, and then we continued to follow the trail towards a small clearing with the Lower Falls’ top within hearing distance.

There were felled trees arranged to prevent people from trying to scramble to the top of the falls and get down to its base from there.

However, the main trail would continue on the other side of the clearing as it then curved left and hugged a narrow ledge.

The trail then curved left again and descended some steps down to the level of Swanson Creek.

Uvas_Canyon_259_05192016 - Mom descending steps deeper into the canyon in pursuit of the Lower Falls
Mom descending steps deeper into the canyon in pursuit of the Lower Falls

At that point, we crossed Swanson Creek where the trail essentially ended, and were right in front of the Lower Falls (sometimes also referred to as Uvas Falls) and its pretty 25-30ft falls.

Like we said earlier, this quarter-mile round trip detour from the main Waterfalls Loop was well worth it because we thought this was the prettiest of the falls on this excursion.

An added bonus to this side excursion was that we had this place to ourselves since it didn’t seem like that many people tended to go down here.

When we returned to the parking lot, we happened to surprise a couple of deer who were grazing in the picnic grounds.

Uvas_Canyon_263_05192016 - Mom scrambling to get a closer look at the Lower Falls or Uvas Falls, which was the last of the Uvas Canyon Waterfalls that we encountered in the park
Mom scrambling to get a closer look at the Lower Falls or Uvas Falls, which was the last of the Uvas Canyon Waterfalls that we encountered in the park

That kind of demonstrated to us that the ecosystems in this part of the Santa Cruz Mountains were more or less intact.

Moreover, that also allowed this hike to serve its purpose in terms of relaxing and rejuvenating us in natural settings.

Authorities

The Uvas Canyon Waterfalls reside in the Uvas Canyon County Park in Morgan Hill in Santa Clara County, California. It is administered by Santa Clara County Parks. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Uvas_Canyon_004_05192016 - Even though we didn't do the Uvas Canyon Waterfalls per the recommended route that we described above, this photo gallery chronicles how we ended up doing things during our visit.  This was Mom starting on the hike as we left the parking lot
Uvas_Canyon_005_05192016 - Mom walking through the picnic area by the parking lot for Uvas Canyon County Park
Uvas_Canyon_009_05192016 - We kept right at this trail junction staying on the Waterfalls Loop Trail.  The trail going uphill to the left was the Alec Canyon Trail, and that was the trail we'd ultimately take to Triple Falls after completing the Waterfalls Loop
Uvas_Canyon_011_05192016 - This was the attractive live oak tree that was near Granuja Falls
Uvas_Canyon_015_05192016 - Granuja Falls as seen from its neighboring footbridge
Uvas_Canyon_026_05192016 - As we were approaching the Waterfalls Loop, we noticed partially submerged pipes on the trail, and we wondered if there was some degree of water diversion going on (perhaps for the nearby private community of Sveadal)
Uvas_Canyon_027_05192016 - Just on the other side of this bridge over Swanson Creek was the beginning and end of the Waterfalls Loop
Uvas_Canyon_030_05192016 - When we did this hike, we kept right at the bottom of the Waterfalls Loop and went up this mostly uphill and somewhat featureless hike.  If we had to do it over again, we would have gone left and hiked alongside the relaxing Swanson Creek
Uvas_Canyon_039_05192016 - Mom hiking alongside this side cascade that ultimately led us up to Black Rock Falls
Uvas_Canyon_042_05192016 - Looking upstream at the Black Rock Falls, which was the first waterfall we encountered going in the counterclockwise direction on the Waterfalls Loop in Uvas Canyon County Park
Uvas_Canyon_062_05192016 - Closer look at the Black Rock Falls
Uvas_Canyon_010_mom_05192016 - This was Mom's view of Black Rock Falls, where she had scrambled up real close to it
Uvas_Canyon_069_05192016 - Mom continuing on the well-forested Waterfalls Loop Trail as we were getting closer to the top of the lollipop loop
Uvas_Canyon_070_05192016 - Mom crossing yet another footbridge over Swanson Creek as we continued further up the Waterfalls Loop Trail getting real close to the next trail junction
Uvas_Canyon_081_05192016 - The next waterfall we saw on the Waterfalls Loop Trail was the Upper Falls, which was actually a pair of attractive waterfalls
Uvas_Canyon_079_05192016 - Closer look at the attractive Upper Falls in Uvas Canyon County Park
Uvas_Canyon_084_05192016 - Looking at the upper tier of the attractive Upper Falls in Uvas Canyon County Park
Uvas_Canyon_095_05192016 - We managed to scramble closer to the upper tier of Upper Falls for a different perspective of this attractive set of falls
Uvas_Canyon_100_05192016 - Mom continuing past both junctions for the Knobcone Point Trail as well as the Contour Trail so we could reach Basin Falls
Uvas_Canyon_111_05192016 - This was the Basin Falls at the very top end of the Waterfalls Loop in the Uvas Canyon County Park
Uvas_Canyon_121_05192016 - Another look at the pretty tiny Basin Falls towards the uppermost end of the Waterfalls Loop Trail
Uvas_Canyon_126_05192016 - Last look at the Basin Falls before the mosquitoes were getting too bothersome and we retreated back to the rest of the Waterfalls Loop in Uvas Canyon County Park
Uvas_Canyon_128_05192016 - Mom hiking downhill on the latter half of the Waterfalls Loop (going counterclockwise) as we were wrapping it up in Uvas Canyon County Park
Uvas_Canyon_130_05192016 - Now Mom and I were walking alongside Swanson Creek on the lower end of the Waterfalls Loop, which crossed some footbridges so we found ourselves on opposite sides of the creek from time to time
Uvas_Canyon_147_05192016 - Mom checking out what appeared to be one of the coastal redwood trees in Uvas Canyon County Park
Uvas_Canyon_152_05192016 - Mom continuing the descent to conclude the Waterfalls Loop in Uvas Canyon County Park
Uvas_Canyon_156_05192016 - Mom hiking alongside the well-shaded and mostly flat trail alongside Swanson Creek on the lower end of the Waterfalls Loop Trail
Uvas_Canyon_158_05192016 - The lower side of the Waterfalls Loop Trail always kept close to Swanson Creek, which meant the soothing sounds of running water always kept us relaxed on this part of the hike
Uvas_Canyon_159_05192016 - Closer look at a butterfly that we encountered while hiking the Waterfall Loop in Uvas Canyon County Park
Uvas_Canyon_160_05192016 - Mom approaching a footbridge near the bottom of the Waterfalls Loop in Uvas Canyon County Park
Uvas_Canyon_179_05192016 - Looking upstream at the Lower Falls towards the end of our counterclockwise Waterfalls Loop in Uvas Canyon County Park
Uvas_Canyon_187_05192016 - This was a particularly narrow part of the lower part of the Waterfalls Loop Trail
Uvas_Canyon_188_05192016 - The footbridges up ahead pretty much marked the conclusion of the Waterfalls Loop Trail, and we only had a few more minutes of walking through picnic grounds to regain the car in Uvas Canyon
Uvas_Canyon_252_05192016 - Walking past what appeared to be a separate parking area in Uvas Canyon County Park as we started to pursue the Lower Falls
Uvas_Canyon_254_05192016 - This sign marked the beginning of the short trail further downstream along Swanson Creek towards the Lower Falls (or Uvas Falls)
Uvas_Canyon_256_05192016 - Mom walking past a small clearing near the top of the Lower Falls in Uvas Canyon County Park
Uvas_Canyon_260_05192016 - Mom continuing to pursue the Lower Falls in Uvas Canyon County Park
Uvas_Canyon_050_mom_05192016 - Mom having to negotiate a little boulder scrambling on Swanson Creek en route to the Lower Falls in Uvas Canyon County Park
Uvas_Canyon_262_05192016 - Approaching the easy-to-miss Lower Falls in Uvas Canyon County Park, where it seemed to have suffered through a landslide or two here
Uvas_Canyon_269_05192016 - Mom checking out the Lower Falls in Uvas Canyon County Park as we had finally made it
Uvas_Canyon_270_05192016 - Here's a frontal look at the Lower Falls (which is also known as Uvas Falls)
Uvas_Canyon_281_05192016 - Just to give you a sense of scale, here's a look at my Mom fronting the Lower Falls
Uvas_Canyon_311_05192016 - Mom passing through the scenery on that naturesque trail between the parking lot and the Lower Falls
Uvas_Canyon_312_05192016 - Mom on the trail alongside Swanson Creek between the parking lot and the Lower Falls

join-booking-970x240-1.jpg


The Uvas Canyon Waterfalls were all found within the Uvas Canyon County Park.

Since we were staying in Morgan Hill, we’ll describe the driving directions from there.

Although there were several routes we could have taken to get from Morgan Hill to the Uvas Canyon Waterfalls, we’ll describe the route that we’ve found to be the easiest and fastest.

From the US101 Freeway in Morgan Hill, we drove south on that freeway until the Tennant Ave exit.

Turning right onto Tennant Ave, we then quickly turned left onto Butterfield Blvd, which eventually became Watsonville Road.

At about 4.5 miles from Tennant Ave, we then turned right onto Uvas Road.

Uvas_Canyon_001_05192016 - The spacious parking lot for the Uvas Canyon County Park facing the Waterfalls Loop Trail direction
The spacious parking lot for the Uvas Canyon County Park facing the Waterfalls Loop Trail direction

Next, we followed Uvas Road for nearly 6 miles before turning left onto Croy Rd (we were also starting to see the Uvas Canyon County Park signs).

Then, we followed Croy Road for the next 4.5 miles passing through the private community of Sveadal before reaching the entrance for Uvas Canyon County Park.

Near the entrance, there was a self-help ticket dispenser, where we were able to pay the $6 vehicle fee by credit card.

After getting back a printed receipt, we’d then leave that receipt on the dashboard as proof of purchase.

Just a minute further up the road was the fairly roomy parking lot for the Waterfalls Loop Trail.

Uvas_Canyon_313_05192016 - Mom returning to the parking lot for the Uvas Canyon County Park after having our fill of the Lower Falls (the last of the waterfalls that we encountered)
Mom returning to the parking lot for the Uvas Canyon County Park after having our fill of the Lower Falls (the last of the waterfalls that we encountered)

Apparently, there was also a second parking area further up the road, but I believe that was more for residents and the handicapped.

Overall, this drive took us about 30 minutes between Morgan Hill and the Uvas Canyon County Park parking lot.

For context, Morgan Hill was about 10 miles northwest of Gilroy (the so-called Garlic Capital of the World), and it was roughly 30 minutes drive to the southeast of downtown San Jose via the US101 Freeway.

It was about a 5-hour drive from Los Angeles to Morgan Hill via the I-5 freeway then the Hwy 152 through Los Banos and Gilroy.

Sweep starting from the main waterfall loop trail looking across at some small falls by a bridge before scrambling alongside a nearby bridge then going up past a few cascades before finally checking out Black Rock Falls


Sweep checking out both tiers of Upper Falls


Briefly checking out Basin Falls and its surroundings


Left to right sweep checking out the lower falls before examining the surrounding area then finally ending back at the waterfall again

Related Top 10 Lists

No Posts Found

Tagged with: uvas canyon, county park, morgan hill, san jose, california, bay area, northern california, waterfall, gilroy, basin falls, black rock falls, santa clara, swanson creek



Visitor Comments:

No users have replied to the content on this page


Share your thoughts about what you've read on this page

You must be logged in to submit content. Refresh this page after you have logged in.

Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

No users have submitted a write-up/review of this waterfall


Have you been to a waterfall? Submit a write-up/review and share your experiences or impressions

Review A Waterfall

Nearest Waterfalls

The Waterfaller Newsletter

The Waterfaller Newsletter is where we curate the wealth of information on the World of Waterfalls website and deliver it to you in bite-sized chunks in your email inbox. You'll also get exclusive content like...

  • Waterfall Wednesdays
  • Insider Tips
  • User-submitted Waterfall Write-up of the Month
  • and the latest news and updates both within the website as well as around the wonderful world of waterfalls
Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

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.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.