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Hiking -- a Deus family tradition

Murietta Falls stands out in Father's Day memories

Pleasanton resident John Deus and his son Tom began a tradition years ago to enjoy hikes together every Father's Day, sometimes even backpacking the entire weekend.

"One of our most interesting Father's Day backpacking trips was a three-day trip around and up to the tree line of Mount Hood in Oregon," John Deus recalled.

Tom now lives in Portland, where he specializes in walking tours of the area; he also spends six months of each year traveling the world, which is documented on his adventure website: www.wanderlustmoments.com/traveling-the-world.

John Deus wrote this piece about his climb to the local Murietta Falls in the Ohlone Regional Wilderness when the falls were running rapidly, and he noted that he had also made the hike with his son Tom on Father's Day 2006.

"We arrived at Murietta Falls only to find it flowing at barely a trickle," he wrote. "Despite this big disappointment, we still had a great time and a great day together."

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Murietta Falls, a hidden gem

By John Deus

Little known and only rarely seen, the Bay Area's highest waterfall lies hidden away in the southern Alameda County wilderness where few venture.

Murietta Falls, named after Joaquin Murietta, a legendary outlaw of the 1800s, is set in the Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness, where a free-flowing creek falls through a rocky gorge, in all a 100-foot waterfall, the longest waterfall in the Bay Area.

Upstream, more small pools and cascades await, and along with Murietta Falls, they make this a destination like nowhere else in the East Bay.

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The key, of course, is hitting it right when the waterfall is a cascading torrent and the view of it is breathtaking. The good news is that the trail is well-signed, and a map is provided with your wilderness permit by the East Bay Regional Park District.

Hit it wrong and none of that will matter long. The only thing breathtaking will be the climbs required to reach the spot and get back.

Why do so few people know about this place? Getting there requires a butt-kicker of a hike: It's 5.5 miles one way, most of it climbing a terribly steep ridge. You'll first ascend 1,600 feet in just 1.5 miles, the worst stretch of the Ohlone Wilderness Trail.

The route tops out at Rocky Ridge, drops 500 feet in 0.5 miles into Williams Gulch, then climbs again even higher, another 1,200 feet toward Wauhab Ridge. From the trailhead, you will gain as much as 3,300 feet in elevation before turning right on the Springboard Trail (signpost 35).

From there it's one mile to the waterfall. Walk along a ridge about a quarter of a mile, then turn left on the Greenside Trail, which descends into a valley and to the falls.

Unfortunately, you can't get a clear view of Murietta Falls from the Greenside Trail. A cutoff route is available that leads to a good viewing area. This unsigned side road/trail off the Greenside Trail is located past the stream. Turn right on this road/trail, which drops in a looping turn down to the floor, providing a better view of the cascade feeding through a rocky gorge into the plunge pool.

When Murietta Falls first comes into view, it stands in contrast to the East Bay hills, a grassland/oak habitat where one does not expect to find steep cliffs and waterfalls. But there it is, all 100 feet.

In the springtime the rapidly greening hills frame the falls, providing a spark of freshness, only a few miles from suburbia, concrete and traffic jams. But given the difficulty of the hike, many are disappointed by how little water there can be here. It can be like a bad joke, where you stay with it all the way to the end only to be disappointed.

Even in big rain years, the creek is reduced to a trickle by early summer and sometimes even goes dry. In addition, it gets hot out here in the summer, really smokin', like 100-plus degrees.

By July the hills are brown, the waterfall has disappeared, and only the ghost of Murietta remains to laugh as you struggle on the 3,300-foot climb.

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Hiking -- a Deus family tradition

Murietta Falls stands out in Father's Day memories

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Jun 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

Pleasanton resident John Deus and his son Tom began a tradition years ago to enjoy hikes together every Father's Day, sometimes even backpacking the entire weekend.

"One of our most interesting Father's Day backpacking trips was a three-day trip around and up to the tree line of Mount Hood in Oregon," John Deus recalled.

Tom now lives in Portland, where he specializes in walking tours of the area; he also spends six months of each year traveling the world, which is documented on his adventure website: www.wanderlustmoments.com/traveling-the-world.

John Deus wrote this piece about his climb to the local Murietta Falls in the Ohlone Regional Wilderness when the falls were running rapidly, and he noted that he had also made the hike with his son Tom on Father's Day 2006.

"We arrived at Murietta Falls only to find it flowing at barely a trickle," he wrote. "Despite this big disappointment, we still had a great time and a great day together."

Murietta Falls, a hidden gem

By John Deus

Little known and only rarely seen, the Bay Area's highest waterfall lies hidden away in the southern Alameda County wilderness where few venture.

Murietta Falls, named after Joaquin Murietta, a legendary outlaw of the 1800s, is set in the Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness, where a free-flowing creek falls through a rocky gorge, in all a 100-foot waterfall, the longest waterfall in the Bay Area.

Upstream, more small pools and cascades await, and along with Murietta Falls, they make this a destination like nowhere else in the East Bay.

The key, of course, is hitting it right when the waterfall is a cascading torrent and the view of it is breathtaking. The good news is that the trail is well-signed, and a map is provided with your wilderness permit by the East Bay Regional Park District.

Hit it wrong and none of that will matter long. The only thing breathtaking will be the climbs required to reach the spot and get back.

Why do so few people know about this place? Getting there requires a butt-kicker of a hike: It's 5.5 miles one way, most of it climbing a terribly steep ridge. You'll first ascend 1,600 feet in just 1.5 miles, the worst stretch of the Ohlone Wilderness Trail.

The route tops out at Rocky Ridge, drops 500 feet in 0.5 miles into Williams Gulch, then climbs again even higher, another 1,200 feet toward Wauhab Ridge. From the trailhead, you will gain as much as 3,300 feet in elevation before turning right on the Springboard Trail (signpost 35).

From there it's one mile to the waterfall. Walk along a ridge about a quarter of a mile, then turn left on the Greenside Trail, which descends into a valley and to the falls.

Unfortunately, you can't get a clear view of Murietta Falls from the Greenside Trail. A cutoff route is available that leads to a good viewing area. This unsigned side road/trail off the Greenside Trail is located past the stream. Turn right on this road/trail, which drops in a looping turn down to the floor, providing a better view of the cascade feeding through a rocky gorge into the plunge pool.

When Murietta Falls first comes into view, it stands in contrast to the East Bay hills, a grassland/oak habitat where one does not expect to find steep cliffs and waterfalls. But there it is, all 100 feet.

In the springtime the rapidly greening hills frame the falls, providing a spark of freshness, only a few miles from suburbia, concrete and traffic jams. But given the difficulty of the hike, many are disappointed by how little water there can be here. It can be like a bad joke, where you stay with it all the way to the end only to be disappointed.

Even in big rain years, the creek is reduced to a trickle by early summer and sometimes even goes dry. In addition, it gets hot out here in the summer, really smokin', like 100-plus degrees.

By July the hills are brown, the waterfall has disappeared, and only the ghost of Murietta remains to laugh as you struggle on the 3,300-foot climb.

Comments

Roz
Valencia
on Jun 19, 2018 at 9:01 am
Roz, Valencia
on Jun 19, 2018 at 9:01 am

John, there is more to you than I knew. Your are going to miss this area as we will miss the two of you.


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