Fordyce Falls Via Spaulding Lake Trail

MODERATE 74 reviews
#33 of 191 trails in

Fordyce Falls Via Spaulding Lake Trail is a 11 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Alta, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 11.0 miles Elevation Gain: 1,437 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

forest

lake

views

waterfall

wildlife

Excellent summer 11-miler out-and-back hike through the woods and a lake with pleasant views to arrive at a delightful and invigorating Fordyce Falls (~4 miles to the falls, continue on to Grouse Ridge Trail and end up at Eagle Lakes). Plenty of open granite slabs around the creek to nap, picnic, and do some excellent photography. Some of the Spaulding Lake Trail passes through large pipes carrying a multi-lake water collection and transportation system for hydro-electric generation. This system is minimally intrusive to the natural habitat and beauty of the region. The Spaulding Lake beach along the trail is a nice place to take a break in and out of the Falls. After heavy rains there can be high water near the start of the trail. Some of this old trail is not maintained well and is difficult to follow. Note: Many users have reported that this trail contains rattlesnakes. It is not recommended to take unleashed dogs along this trail.

backpacking
5 days ago

Went on a two night backpacking trip. Lovely trail with great established campsites along the creek. Saw lots of mountain bikers zooming along the trail but no rattlesnakes. Fun spots to swim-even found a little cave. Beware, there were a few forks in the trail-the app was helpful to keep us on track.

hiking
9 days ago

Awesome hike. Beautiful place. Plenty of signs. Lots of shade. Away from the highway. A lake. A small waterfall with a place to swim at the end.

hiking
1 month ago

We are going to nickname this Rattlesnake Falls. We have gone on this trail twice in the last 2 weeks, and have seen multiple rattlers each time. Last week, we saw 2 baby rattlers within the first mile (before the pipe). Yesterday, we did the entire trail and saw a HUGE rattler mid-way up the lake. I almost stepped on the guy, and he was angry! He followed us...even as we backed away. He had no intention of letting us pass on the trail. Coiled-up...mad guy! Watch out for mid-day sun and warm light...cause you WILL see rattlers. Also, it is not necessary to do this entire trail. The falls are just above the lake...and the trail after the falls has only a few spots worthy of see on a day hike. There are a few awesome spots for camping...but the trail has nothing too significant at the end. It seems as if the trails can be started from the other end. There are a few pretty lakes covered in lily pads and a couple nice swimming holes. However, the falls are coolest place to hang out if you are taking a day hike. Seriously...rattlers. Keep your eye on your feet. This trail is a hidden gem otherwise!

hiking
1 month ago

Really great hike! I was there on Wednesday July 31st. Didn't expect to do the full hike but it was much easier than I expected and I am so glad I went all the way to the falls. Spectacular! Majority of the hike is in the shaded forest which makes it comfortable on even a hot day but that is also where the mosquitoes are. Bring bug spray. That was the only down side and it's a pretty insignificant down side as everything else is just beautiful! I did cross paths with a bear on my way back about a quarter mile from the falls but he was more scared than I was. It was actually kind of cool. I will definitely do this hike again. Probably quite a bit more.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!♡ A dimond in the rough. A must for hikers. The forest floor is so soft. The Water is breathtaking.♡♡♡♡

backpacking
1 month ago

Parking is on the side of the road and free. Trail is a little tricky to keep in the beginning, although pretty easy if you use the alltrails GPS. Overall it's a very pleasant trail with lots of shade to hike in, and lots of great views. Not a ton of uphill or downhill, easy footing the majority of the way - would be a great beginner backpacking trip. We didn't go too far, but there are a few waterfalls along the way which are very pretty. It was pretty hot seeing as how it's only 5k' but still way cooler than Sacramento.

hiking
bugs
rocky
1 month ago

Very nice trail for a quick hike or all day. We got about 3 miles in and found a beautiful spot for dip in the water and lunch spot. Water still VERY cold and moving fast. A few mosquitoes so be prepared. Very peaceful and plenty of beautiful spots for photos. Bring some swim trunks and water shoes. Wear hiking boots as lots of ankle turning rocks. So beautiful right now - enjoy this hike with so much flowing water. Will do this again to make it out to the falls.

hiking
bugs
muddy
rocky
1 month ago

Great trail and hike. The most confusing part is the first mile, as there are some roads coming off the main trail. Look for the trail signs in the trees at the forks and you’ll be fine. There is a PG & E detour around the first 3/4 mile of the hike. It’s easy to follow and is a really quick detour. The falls were roaring pretty good. If you enjoy fishing, we hiked about 5 and half miles in, and fished along some parts of the creek on the way back. This obviously added some time, but it allowed some time to slow down and enjoy the nature.

hiking
bugs
muddy
over grown
rocky
2 months ago

By far one of the best hikes I've ever done! It had almost everything I could ask from a hike. It was beautifully green and shady in the morning. There was no shortage of running water. It had lake and waterfall views! There was so much to see in terms of water, plants, rocks, small critters, and general terrain. I already can't wait to come back and actually backpack. It was challenging because it is a tad overgrown and the trail gets hard to see. It's best with a map and keen eyes to look for the rock stacks and the clear paths ahead. At the beginning, near Spaulding Lake, go up to the left, don't follow the path that goes towards the lake. I did, and it's breathtaking, but I thought it was the trail and it added a whole mile to my journey. I met 3 other groups who had the same problem. Loads of bugs and lots of sun in the afternoon and later portions of the hike. Sunscreen and bug spray!

hiking
2 months ago

Get out early! Nice trail.

hiking
2 months ago

Hands down one of my favorite hikes in the Sierras. From the deep blue lake to the cascading river and waterfalls, to the fern gullies, alpine plants and boulders, this hike offers plenty of variety. There wasn’t a huge elevation change and the clear path makes this family friendly and perfect as a day trip. Come early to soak in the sun by the second waterfall. Will plan to come back and do an overnight!

hiking
2 months ago

Backpacked 6/15-6/16. Really enjoyed this trail; rarely any elevation gain and plenty of water around. One tricky river crossing towards the end but doable. Water was really cold..much too cold to swim for me but great for a rinse off after what felt like 70 degree temps during the day. Evening was also warm. We probably saw a group about every other hour, so it’s a great trail if you want to get away from the crowds. Lots of awesome campsites, many that are by water sources and have fire pits with lots of down wood. Saw a bear and a few snakes. Mosquito are out.

backpacking
2 months ago

Easy trail to follow. First part is a bit steep going down but I have 9 and 11 years backpacking this trail. This is not their first backpacking trip and they enjoy it. There are few spots I had lost the trail but most part, well traveled. Lots of water and creeks. River flowing fast. Bring that mosquito spray, they will eat you alive.

hiking
rocky
washed out
3 months ago

(06/15/19) I got there a bit late in the day, roughly 4pm so opted not to take the entire 11 mile trek. If you continue straight instead of turning left at the 3rd bridge(just past the large aqueduct) if will take you to the lakes edge and ultimately to the damn. Not hard except for some loose rocks but easily marked trail. The total length of trip going this route was 3.8 miles. Truly mesmerizing waterfalls/rapids. When you get to the first detour set up by PGE if you continued straight along the usual trail you’ll see the water flow in all its glory. Wouldn’t recommend taking young kids to this. If someone fell in they couldn’t get out. Temp was 78 and no breeze. Lots of random wild flowers. Encountered one rattler who was kind enough to alert me before I got to him and we gave each other plenty of room to pass. Good hike. I’ll be back.

hiking
3 months ago

***Watch for Rattlesnakes***.I went on this hike 06/13/2019. The temperature was 70°F. I was looking forward to this hike. I took my dog up there so she can run off leash. About 30 minutes into the hike (9:30 AM) I came close to stepping on a rattlesnake. Thankfully my curious dog passed by without seeing the snake. Since we were walking on warm rocks I leashed up my pup. As soon as we went to a shaded trail I let her back off leash. About one minute later I spotted another Rattlesnake. I quickly leashed up my dog again. We passed the snake and continued down the path. About 15 minutes later I met a couple coming from a different path. They had informed me they also saw 2 rattlesnakes. 10 minutes after that I saw a third Rattlesnake! We turned back and gave up on this trail. On the way back I met a few others who warned me about a rattlesnake ahead. Other than the 6 rattlesnakes, the views were nice. I would not recommend taking unleashed dogs out there.

hiking
3 months ago

Great conditions today. No snow, but some sections a bit soggy from all the runoff. Easy to navigate around. Falls were in full force. Beautiful.

Good trail, now has some detours that add a bit to the length. Easy to lose trail when going over the granite but you can find it on the other side with some walking, adds to the length too. On the way back I used GPS to follow the trail more exactly and that definitely helped with time and empty miles. There is one part mentioned by previous reviewer about a section towards the end that has a decent stream. I found it passable but it was thigh high water with decent current, just be careful and plan your path first. Eagles lakes were kind of underwhelming. Not many good places to camp lake side, and pretty much impossible to fish with a spinning rod from the bank, too many trees and too shallow that you get caught up every time. Next time I will do a trail that ends at a nicer lake.

hiking
3 months ago

This was a really cool trail however, you're unable to get to the falls as of 6/1/19. At about the 5.5 mile mark, there's a very large creek that is completely overflowing that makes it impossible to carry on. This was probably about a 1/2 mile from the Grouse Ridge intersect. That being said, there's a pretty awesome falls a little bit before this, maybe about 5 miles in that was super cool. If I was doing this hike again, for now, I'd likely just stop there and turn back. I'll try this hike again near the end of summer or late July in hopes you can finish the whole route and get to the falls. Overall though, cool hike. Nice views of the lake and pretty nice hike through the forest for a while. Keep in mind, trail can be hard to follow at times so I'd recommend GPS or AllTrails app to stay on course. For the most part, if you follow the small water flow through the trail, it'll keep you on track more or less. Fun hike, looking forward to finishing it later this summer.

Super fun hike with my mom, my 8 year old, and carrying my 4 month old. We went only about 1.8 in before turning back. I didn’t know what to expect with the “falls” and found it to be jaw dropping. Look for trail markers on trees to stay on trail. Beautiful views of lake as well.

hiking
10 months ago

We did this trail mid October and the fall colors were spectacular! There were spots where the trial was not so clear, the sights were surely worth it. The falls and swimming holes looked so inviting and beautiful. I would suggest just keeping your eyes open for rock stacking, ribbon, and tree markers if you choose to do this hike.

hiking
11 months ago

6/8/18 - Stunning. Quite lovely trail with so much to see. We did not want to leave Fordyce Falls as it was so pretty and relaxing. Water was far too cold to swim in but our feet enjoyed a dip

hiking
Thursday, September 06, 2018

The falls are really cool! While we were there PG + E was running water from one of the upper lakes down into Spaulding, which is a spectacle in of itself; huge cataracts of water going down a steep hill at the beginning of the hike. Pro tip: if you want a shorter hike, just turn around where Grouse Ridge Trail comes in. The bridge over to the lakes is kinda neat, but the lakes themselves aren't much for swimming (they're shallower and lilly-pad filled).

backpacking
Monday, August 13, 2018

Went for an overnight Saturday-Sunday (August). Perfect solitude. The fiancé, pup, and I encountered one other couple on their way out. The hike wasn’t too challenging, although it was at least 90 degrees out. After stopping to fish and swim at the lake, we proceeded on to a small secluded fall, where we would later setup camp. But first, we continued on to Fordyce Falls, which was pretty and offered a deep swimming hole. We didn’t make it all the way to Eagle Lakes, but our weekend totaled just over 13miles. Watch out for rattlesnakes, we spotted 2! I’d recommend this hike if trying to find solitude and escape from summer crowds.

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