Lovely Waterfalls. Funky Little Bridges. Dark Forest.

Uvas Canyon County Park
Neil Wiley

Last month, I shared a walk with you to Nibbís Knob at the higher end of Uvas Canyon off Summit Road. Although it was a good hike, I ran out of light, heat and energy before I could reach the bottom of the canyon. So this month I returned to Uvas to hike the Waterfall Loop.

Rather than walking down the Nibbís Knob (also called Knibbís Knob) Trail, I entered the park from the main Uvas/Croy Road entrance. Itís a longer drive but a much easier walk.

The lower end of the park is quite a contrast to the Nibbís Knob area. While the top part of the park offers long scenic views over chaparral-covered hills, the deep canyon is dark, shaded and damp. The Waterfall Loop Trail brings you into a cool, dense forest of madrone, Douglas fir, maples, redwoods and many varieties of oak. Below the trees, along the riparian corridor, are many shades of green, from ferns, French broom, minerís lettuce, bedstraw, varied-leaf collomia, chickweed and the ubiquitous poison oak.

The narrow but well marked trail follows upward along the left bank of Swanson Creek, occasionally crossing over via little pedestrian bridges. As the stream tumbles over large rocks and ledges, we see many little waterfalls, some murmuring quietly, some roaring loudly.

At the top of the loop, I recommend walking another tenth of a mile to the Upper Falls. Itís well worth the short hike. You can then return down the left side of the creek using a wide trail. The entire loop is less than a mile long. This is a great hike for families, including small children.

If you want more of a challenge, side trails off the loop can take you to Knobcone Point, Basin Falls or Black Rock Falls. Or you can continue on Contour Trail further up the creek. This trail is rougher, narrower and higher above the creek bed, making it a bit more risky for children. Contour Trail connects with Alec Canyon Trail to loop back to the park entrance.

Of course, if you really want a challenge, hike up to Nibbís Knob and Summit Road. Itís only a mile and a half to the top, but you climb over 1800 feet in elevation.

A little cool in January, the canyon might be a better hike in spring, while the waterfalls are still strong but the cool shade and running water are a relief from warm temperatures and bright sun.
To get to the main entrance of Uvas Canyon from Los Gatos, drive south on Blossom Hill, right on Camden, then turn south on Almaden Expressway. (You can also take the faster but longer route via Highway 85 to Almaden Expressway.) Take Almaden Expressway to the end, turn right on Harry, then turn left after a short block to McKean. Follow McKean past Calero Reservoir until the road becomes Uvas. Turn right on Croy Road. Follow Croy through the old Swedish resort of Sveadal on a narrow road to the park entrance.

Thereís parking for thirty or more cars. Cost is $4 a day. Campsites, picnic facilities and a public bathroom are available.

Although I favor ridge trails with big views, Uvas Canyonís waterfalls, bridges and deep forest offer a pleasant and interesting mountain walk.

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