Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Marin Waterfalls Hike - Dawn Falls - 3/22/11

Dawn Falls in Baltimore Canyon

          In the heart of Baltimore Canyon on the border of Corte Madera and Larkspur lie Dawn Falls. This plunge waterfall drops roughly 15’ with a picturesque backdrop of ferns and California Bay Laurel. As with most of Marin’s falls it is best seen after a heavy rainfall.
          There are two ways to approach the falls, the quickest and easiest being from above. Near College of Marin take Woodland Rd. then left on Evergreen Dr. to the top of the hill where you take a left and park along Ridgecrest Road. Continue past the gate on foot and hike along the Southern Marin Line Fire Road until you reach a trail on the left signed Dawn Falls. A connector trail for Hoo-Koo-E-Koo ascends the ridge on the opposite side of the fire road and is also signed. Once you leave the Southern Marin Line the trail enters a shady young redwood forest and begins to descend along a series of switchbacks. Near one of the first couple of turns was a vast crop of Fetid Adder’s Tongue, however, being a little late in the season there were no blooms left. Several switchbacks later led me to the brink of Dawn Falls.

Dawn Falls

Looking Over the Brink of the Falls

          There is a nice viewing perch just off of the main trail. After taking some photos I went down the trail a little further and scrambled to the creek so I could get a vantage point from below. The rocks were wet and slippery but the view was worth it.

Dawn Falls from Below

          I then went back up top and spent some time relaxing at the edge of the falls. The sun was setting and it was getting even darker beneath the tree canopy. A light rain began to fall yet the tree cover blocked all but a fine mist. I pondered at how lucky we are to have access to such great places. Places that can relieve you of the day’s stresses and strains. Places for people like you and I to rejuvenate ourselves and connect with the wild. Without such places we face a certain disconnect from the cycle of nature and the environment is more vulnerable to the nuances of man.

Another Vantage Point

          As the sky grew darker I decided it was time to head back. I hiked back up the switchbacks enjoying the sound of the rushing creek nearby. I exited the tree cover into heavy rain and hiked the short distance back to my parked car.
          Dawn Falls can also be accessed from below. A little more hiking is involved but isn’t that what it is all about? Take the Baltimore Canyon Trail at the end of Madrone Ave. in Larkspur. There is very limited parking at the end of the road. The shaded trail follows the creek to Dawn Falls. There are spur options along the way that could be used to do a loop hike including: Barbara Springs Trail leading up to Southern Marin Line Fire Rd, and the Ladybug Trail leading up to King Mountain. For access to a trail map of the area click here.

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