Whiskey Falls (Whisky Falls)

Sierra National Forest / Bass Lake, California, USA

About Whiskey Falls (Whisky Falls)

Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2016-07-10
Date last visited: 2016-07-10

Waterfall Latitude: 37.28774
Waterfall Longitude: -119.4406

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Whisky Falls (I’ve also seen it spelled Whiskey Falls) was a diminutive waterfall with a cumulative drop of a reported 40ft over a couple of tiers on rounded granite slabs.

With it being so easy to visit (once we found out how to access it by car; see directions below), we looked for ways to extend our time here.

Whiskey_Falls_058_07102016 - Whisky Falls
Whisky Falls

In doing so, I figured out that there was a little alcove behind the falls, where I was able to crouch into it from the side of the creek to get that unusual view of the waterfall’s backside.

Meanwhile, Mom took off her shoes and put her feet in very cold creek to offset the high temperatures of the Summer.

Our visit to this waterfall took place in July, where you can see in the photo above, seemed to have occurred under low flow conditions.

I’ve read that this creek should flow year-round, but its visual impact would probably be best during the late Spring and early Summer months (May to June).

Whiskey_Falls_043_07102016 - Looking out from the alcove behind Whisky Falls
Looking out from the alcove behind Whisky Falls

Even though Whisky Falls was pretty remote as far as vehicular access was concerned, we definitely weren’t the only people here as it was practically next to the Whiskey Falls Campground.

Nevertheless, this place definitely felt much quieter and intimate for a roadside waterfall, and we enjoyed our 30 minutes spent here.


Whisky Falls resides in the Sierra National Forest near North Fork in Madera County, California. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Whiskey_Falls_084_07102016 - This sign wasn't kidding about the conditions that we were about to drive through on the way to Whisky Falls
Whiskey_Falls_083_07102016 - Looking back at the unpaved road on Autumn Ridge Way leading us towards the fairly remote Whiskey Falls Campground
Whiskey_Falls_081_07102016 - As the road was climbing, we managed to get some attractive views downslope in the direction of the Central Valley
Whiskey_Falls_001_07102016 - Walking towards the bridge before the Whisky Falls after finding a pullout to stop the car
Whiskey_Falls_007_07102016 - Looking upstream from the bridge towards Whisky Falls
Whiskey_Falls_010_07102016 - Standing before Whisky Falls
Whiskey_Falls_011_07102016 - Portrait view of Whisky Falls looking against the early afternoon sun
Whiskey_Falls_014_07102016 - Another look from right up in front of Whisky Falls
Whiskey_Falls_016_07102016 - Very bright long exposure shot at the Whisky Falls
Whiskey_Falls_021_07102016 - Mom cooling off her feet in front of Whisky Falls while also providing a sense of scale for the size of the waterfall
Whiskey_Falls_066_07102016 - More reasonable attempt at a long-exposure shot of Whisky Falls
Whiskey_Falls_072_07102016 - Trying to show the whole context of Whisky Falls
Whiskey_Falls_073_07102016 - Another contextual view of Whisky Falls
Whiskey_Falls_077_07102016 - Walking back to the car after having our fill of the Whisky Falls

Although we visited Whisky Falls during a long drive from Huntington Lake to Oakhurst via Shaver Lake and Bass Lake, it seemed like the nearest big town to make a visit to the falls was Oakhurst.

Since we stayed in that town on the day we visited the falls, we’ll start the driving directions from there.

Oakhurst was about 47 miles (a little under an hour’s drive) north of the Hwy 99/Hwy 41 interchange in Fresno.

From the Hwy 41 and Hwy 49 traffic light in Oakhurst, we’d drive north on Hwy 41 for about 3.5 miles.

We would then turn right onto Bass Lake Road (there was also a sign indicating this was the way to Bass Lake).

Next, we’d follow Bass Lake Road for around 4 miles where we’d then bear left onto Road 274 (Malum Ridge Road).

Whiskey_Falls_078_07102016 - Extensive driving on the Autumn Ridge Way en route to even more extensive unpaved driving to Whisky Falls
Extensive driving on the Autumn Ridge Way en route to even more extensive unpaved driving to Whisky Falls

Then we’d continue for the next 10 miles on Malum Ridge Road before turning left onto Mammoth Pool Road (at a four-way stop near the town of North Fork).

Following Mammoth Pool Road for just under a mile, we then turned left onto Road 233 or Cascadel Rd (there was a sign indicating Whiskey Falls Campground was this way).

After about a half-mile, we kept left at a fork leading us onto Autumn Ridge Way (Road 8S09).

Once we were on Autumn Ridge Way, the road became unpaved at some point.

Whiskey_Falls_080_07102016 - This was the extensive burn area as well as severely drought-affected area during the unpaved drive towards the Whiskey Falls Campground
This was the extensive burn area as well as severely drought-affected area during the unpaved drive towards the Whiskey Falls Campground

We then followed this road for roughly 7.5 miles passing through an extensive burn area as well as a grove severely affected by bark beetles resulting from the multi-year drought in California.

Most of this road was a little on the bumpy side, but it was quite doable by passenger vehicles except for one little bouldery stream crossing that looked like it could shred a tire if not careful.

Other than that, we then followed a sign indicating that the Whiskey Falls Campground was to our right, and we turned right to continue on the Whisky Snowmobile Trails Rd.

This road became a little narrower for the last 1.2 miles as it would ultimately arrive at a bridge.

Whiskey_Falls_076_07102016 - Looking back at the road bridge over Whisky Creek
Looking back at the road bridge over Whisky Creek

Whisky Falls was just a few paces upstream from this bridge.

There appeared to be a little sloping pullout on the left just beyond the bridge as well as a narrower pullout further down the road on the right (where we parked).

Of course, if you’re camping here, there would be plenty of parking for your designated camping spot.

Overall, this drive took us about just under an hour.

Whiskey_Falls_002_07102016 - Looking back at the road shoulder that we parked at to visit Whisky Falls, which was just beyond the Whisky Falls Campground
Looking back at the road shoulder that we parked at to visit Whisky Falls, which was just beyond the Whisky Falls Campground

If you were to come from Huntington Lake like we did on the way to Whisky Falls, it took us around 2.5 hours to make this drive.

We did it by going south on Hwy 168 towards Fresno, then turning right onto Auberry Rd and following it north towards Mammoth Pool Rd in North Fork before picking up the rest of the directions as described above.

To give you some additional geographical context, Fresno was 221 miles (3.5 hours drive) north of Los Angeles and 188 miles (about 3 hours drive) southeast of San Francisco.

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Brief sweep from almost behind Whiskey Falls then walking over to a more conventional vantage point and did some sweeps over there

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Tagged with: sierra national forest, bass lake, madera, sierra, california, waterfall, roadside, whisky falls, campground

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Autumn Ridge Road WASHED OUT June 18, 2017 7:08 pm by _Anonymous258 - Autumn Ridge Road to Whiskey Falls is washed out. You have to reach it from the Mammoth Pool Road or up Beashore Road. ...Read More

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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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