Sly Park Falls

Sly Park Falls
Normally, the only day of the week I can get out hiking is on Saturdays. My wife, Tara, has a Kenpo Karate school in Sacramento, and teaches 3 nights of the week, while I stay home with the kids. So kind as she is, she lets me get out on Saturdays to do my thing. But this weekend, she had an all day karate seminar in Fresno. Not to be out done though, I had a new plan: go for a quick hike on Friday after work before dark.

I had heard there was a waterfall in Sly Park at Jenkinson Lake in Pollock Pines. The trouble was, I did not know exactly where it was. One source said it was on Sly Park Creek. In Danielssons’ Northern CA Waterfalls book, he said it was on Camp Creek. That made no sense, Camp Creek was on the other side of the reservoir. He has so many mistakes in his book, it is not even funny; but that is a post for another time. My best guess was it was on Hazel Creek. But I was wrong (surprise, surprise). And as it turned out, Danielsson was actually right for once (surprise, surprise). The waterfall is a man-made waterfall created from a diversion tunnel on Camp Creek, which flows all the way across to Sly Park Creek, dropping off a 33 ft. high cliff into Sly Park Creek. Even though it is man-made, it is a pretty waterfall, dropping into a nice little pool.

The trail begins at Hazel Creek campground and follows the reservoir over to Sly Park Creek. However, I had to walk a little further than expected. The road was closed a mile before Hazel Creek camp, and thus, a 2 mile round-trip hike turned into a 4 mile hike. It was already getting late by the time I started, so I was worried I wouldn’t make it before dark. I decided to continue. I made it rather easily to the waterfall. However, I did have quite a bit of snow to hike through. Again, I had no snowshoes with me. No matter, I didn’t need them. Even though it was getting quite late, I came across a jogger. I had seen no other cars around, so I figured he must have been jogging completely around the reservoir (that is quite a distance). When I reached the waterfall, there was one short descent down to its base. In the summer, no problem. In the winter, it was sheer ice. I decided to go for it, sat down on my bum, and went for a ride. Whee! Climbing back up the ice was a bit more difficult. I managed to do it, without killing myself or breaking anything important (ie. my camera equipment). By the time I got back to my car, I was hiking in the dark. All in all, it was a fun hike on a Friday evening, after work. And I wasn’t finished yet …

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