Long one lane drive to the trail head, but worth it. Hike down to the creek and Otter Creek itself was beautiful. Pretty steep at times. It's the hike back out that's a pain in the butt, literally. All uphill at a steep incline. Definitely a challenge and slow going but doable even for the inexperienced hiker like me. Overall good hike and we didn't see a single soul!
For clarification, this trail has a trailhead at each end, both of which are accessible by roads on opposite sides of the Rubicon River. One end is located through the Volcanoville area, as the directions say. The other end of the trail is located across the river at the end of the Nevada Point Ridge rd (13N41). From one end to the other, the trail is a tad over 5 miles long. So, the specs on this trail page say 10.6 miles because they are presuming a hiker would walk the entire length, turn around, then return back to their car. Obviously your hike could be shorter if you only intend to hike to the river, or have the convenience of several people and more than one car. Both roads are bumpy dirt roads, so keep this in mind when deciding what car to bring. You won't need a 4x4, but it would be unwise to bring a low clearance car designed strictly for pavement.
From the Volcanoville end down to the river is roughly about 2 miles. I was able to hike to the river at a slow-pokey pace in about an hour. The return hike up took me about an hour and 10 minutes. I really wanted to be able to say a bunch of awesome things about this trail, but it'd be dishonest of me. The two major hassles about this trail is that it is heavily overgrown with poison oak due to it's lack of use, and the mosquitoes are relentless. I have been a hiker most of my life, so I'm not usually one to complain about such things, but this was a bit too much Mother Nature for me to say it was an awesome hike. I wore plenty of bug spray and still got eaten alive, as if the resident mosquitoes hadn't seen a hiker in years. Staying ahead of them was near impossible, and I would get swarmed every time I stopped to take a picture or rest for a moment, which got frustrating very quickly, considering how steep the trail is. Dodging and weaving through the jungle of poison oak lining the narrow trail detracted from my enjoyment as well. As careful as I was, I still got whipped in the face with it several times. Because of this, I'd suggest not bringing a dog, as Fido will undoubtedly get covered in poison oak, hence eventually getting it all over you and your car later.
On the plus side, this trail isn't well used or known, so if you go you'll likely have the place all to yourself. It's a great place for folks who love solitude. The river of course is gorgeous and soothing, and fortunately I encountered no mosquitoes at the river itself. There were several nice spots to camp, if you want to stay overnight. There are two bridges, (well, one and a half, actually). The first bridge crosses Pilot Creek (on the Volcanoville side). What is left of the second bridge used to cross the Rubicon, but was washed out in a flood years ago. So, if you want to cross to the other side, you will have to carefully pick your way over river rocks, or wade through a shallow area. Definitely bring river shoes for this.
If you have issues with your joints, knees, or hips, definitely bring your walking stick, trekking poles, knee brace, or whatever it is you need to make the hike more comfortable for yourself, as the trail is very steep and narrow almost the whole way, and if you reach out to grab a branch to hang onto, it'll likely be poison oak. As someone with an arthritic knee, I was wishing I'd brought something to make the hike easier on myself. Bring and use bug spray, even though the mosquitoes will likely ignore it and bite you anyway. Whatever you do, don't wear shorts unless you are immune to poison oak.
Overall it was a decent hike. You will definitely get your cardio and lower body workout for the day. But I am not likely to hike it again any time soon due to the heavy abundance of pests on the trail. It was worth doing once, though, for the experience and to access a remote, lovely part of the Rubicon.
Loved hiking into this place. The land is owned by UC Berkeley, not national forest, and it was a priveledge to be able to hike in and take in the beauty of wild dogwoods in bloom during the spring, and the natural cascades high flows during snowmelt run off... not to mention, finding a couple of fishing holes above the falls to enjoy catch and release of various species of small trout. Thanks to the degenerates who were going in during the summers and trashing the place, the public is no longer allowed to experience this great place. Anyone wholoves the outdoors should know the rule... pack out what you pack in.
Brittany W. on CLOSED: Pilot Creek Waterfalls (Uni...
LOVED this place! So sad it's closed..
The falls are still closed and it is being enforced with coordination between the Sheriff's Department and the private landowners who own the land over which the trail trespasses. There is no legal way to access the falls. Thanks for your cooperation.
Nice wooded trail if you are in the area. Terrain and local views are very typical of many other trails in the area. The trail takes you to a pretty spot at the bottom of the canyon, though there are several claims at the creek. You can extend your hike up the other side if you like.
Went with a group of 10 on May 24th 2015. Didn't realize rubicon Rd is dirt and pretty rugged we were lucky to be in a truck but not recommended for a nice car. We went from the trail head down to the bridge over the watering hole at Pilot Creek. Gorgeous! We all went for a swim and had some fun jumping in from the rocks just right of the falls. Easy on the way down. Took about 35-40 mins? There was lots of poison oak so I would recommend long lightweight pants and wash off animals if you brought any! Hike up back was about 60 - 70 minutes? definitely an ass kicker accurately described by reviews but again worth it!
@Jay Trock Your comment is complete non-sense.. I am a local and WE LOVE THIS PLACE.. However the EDSO (El Dorado County Sheriff) and I'm sure the forrest service have been trying to shut this place down for years, lots of people get injured down here and it costs them alot of money to respond, the access road goes through private lands. Legal Signage? All they have to do is post NO TRESPASSING sign doesn't have to be a state sign or anything else. (WE do the same thing around here to prevent hunters from hunting on our lands). There are things they could've done to fix the EMS response stuff but as the last .5 mile is not drivable and is on privately owned land they simply aren't going to do so . ALL us locals know the last fall (4th - really steep one) is the one that people get killed on but every year there's drunk out of towners going down the stupid thing. Last time I was there they had strung a rope down the fall to guide them.. Still looked very stupid.. Don't get me wrong I think closing it is a travesty but local law enforcement and the USFS has been working towards this for years.. Hell back in the day we could ride dirt bikes down to the final descent trail until they put up that big gate to to block that..
This is not really close. The Sheriff will not and can not enforce so call trespassing on fire road. This is locals trying to use intimation to keep you away. If you view all the people on the internet saying it is close it is locals. They do not even use real legal signage. I do understand some of their frustration at people that do not pack out what they pack in. It is funny they are trying to use EMS response time as a reason. I guess you should never hike anywhere when you do not have a cell signal. Enjoy the falls. I do.
Arrived today at 11am, Two "guards" at the gate today threatening us with fines and or arrest for trespassing. New and improved signage stating private property and all hazards and dangers of hiking down to and swimming in the falls. Gate guards took our pictures and said he was calling the sheriff to get the peeps who were already down the trail. Makes me sad because it is such a beautil place to enjoy a hot summer day. I hope they figure out a way to allow entry. At least I made it there once.... Peace & Love
Great little hike as long as you know where you are going. Multiple forks but they all lead to the falls. There was a person at the entrance saying that the falls was closed and no swimming was aloud but he let us pass and we were able to enjoy a great day at the falls. Pick up your trash and be respectful of others so this special place isn't ruined for everyone
The reason you may not see trash is because people who care are packing it out by the truck loads. The local community is working on closing access to the falls because of the growing concerns of disease from human waste, tons of garbage, illegal parking, massive amounts of human waste on trail, and vandalism of private water agency water pipes. This is PRIVATE PROPERTY. Clean up efforts will stop and water samples will be taken, CHP will be called, vehicles will be towed. Too many people have ruined it for those who know how to respect nature. The water is owned by the state of California and the State Water Board will need to get involved. If you live down stream from this beautiful community you drink this polluted water.
This was a nice hike. We turned it into 7.5miles taking the first left after the gate. It's the 2nd left :) no worries easy hike down to the falls and lots of fun sliding and relaxing before the steeeeep rocky climb out. It was a Saturday and pretty crowded but I would guess only about 25% of the crowd was sliding so we didn't have to wait long. It wasn't as nasty as I had expected (from reading some of these reviews) most everyone packed out their trash. We are gonna go back again on a hot weekday soon! Good times!!
WHAT A SHAME: Cars are being towed away for parking on the street, garbage is being left everywhere, people are going to the bathroom in random spots..hey ya gotta go you gotta go right? Let's all do our part to clean up...when I was young we all carried our garbage out and, well we buried out poop. lol Please be respectful and stop those who aren't or we will all lose the privilege of visiting the falls. Cheers
Also...drink at your own risk, and there is no 4th fall.