It’s Spring again and that means that the hills are vibrant green, wildflowers are blooming, and wildlife is abundant for foothills nature hikes. One such hike just an hour from Sacramento and a half an hour from Marysville is a gorgeous jaunt to Beale Falls, also known as Fairy Falls by the locals.
This easy yet spectacular hike takes outdoor loving families through meadows, gentles hills, some wooded areas and over rocks to a spectacular 100 foot waterfall perfect for a picnic or in later Spring, a refreshing swim. Our kids love this as an annual Spring tradition. So far, we’ve done the hike a few times this year already.The elevation gain on this 5 mile round trip hike is about 300 feet with most of the hike occurring on a well maintained trail. Depending on what area of the falls you want to access, you will have to traverse some rocks at the foot of the falls. Several sandy beaches also provide nice areas for sunbathing and picnicking. We’ve taken our kids and their friends of all ages, ranging from age 4 and up. Toddlers, tweens, and teens alike all love this hike.
While this is not a difficult hike, the terrain is varied and very minimally challenging in a few areas. Several new trail markers have recently been erected, so just wear good walking shoes, follow the signs, and enjoy the lush scenery and wildlife.Walking the dirt road you will likely see cattle and numerous birds. At the end of the road, about one quarter of the way to the falls you will turn right and pass through a metal gate, climb a gentle hill and cross a cattle crossing/guard. The edge of the meadow just past the cattle guard offers two trails and either one will take you to the falls and to several great swimming holes and picnic spots. We always enjoy looking for tadpoles, frogs and interesting fish, and we’ve never been disappointed as there’s lots of varied wildlife to spy.
You can also follow the trail a bit further along the creek side and climb over some rocks to the overlook of Beale Falls. When you are ready to head back, just retrace your route. At a leisurely pace, you’ll need to allow about 3 hours for the entire round trip, not counting extra time you plan to enjoy the falls. There is no cell service, so plan accordingly.
Be sure to pack ample fresh drinking water. We usually find 32 oz. per person to be perfect. Be cautious as rattlesnakes are occasionally spotted on the trails and surrounding areas. Since most of the hiking trails are wide open spaces, be sure to prepare with sunblock as midday sun may be intense. This is an exceptionally dog-friendly hike, so families who are dog lovers will want to bring their furry friends along. Many horseback riders also frequent the trail. My kids delight in watching an occasional cattle drive with local ranchers rounding up their herds on the trail.
To access the trail head:
Drive from Marysville on Hwy 20 towards Grass Valley. Turn right on Hammonton/Smartville Rd. (newly named Chuck Yeager Road), from the Beale AFB exit. Continue 5 miles to Waldo Rd. Turn left on Waldo Rd., which is a dirt road. Cross the one-lane bridge and turn left. Drive to the dead end at the wooden bridge. You can park right by the yellow gate. This is the trail head for this gorgeous Springtime hike.