Nojoqui Falls Park has a beautiful waterfall tucked away in a backroad, just 10 minutes from the intimate Danish town of Solvang. The waterfall is much higher than you would think, and even when there’s just a trickle, the short hike heading up to the falls is one of the most remarkable walks you will ever take.
Make some new friends in unexpected places.
The scenic drive up to Nojoqui Falls is filled with trees full of mistletoe and sphagnum moss. You can expect to see free roaming deer and cows grazing on the fresh green pastures. Be sure to take the opportunity to pull over, grab some long grass, and feed the cows along the way. It’s a fun experience on its own. The cows will look at you funny at first, but once they see the grass in your hand, you’ll find yourself making some new friends before continuing up the road.
From the parking lot of Nojoqui Falls, it’s only about a 10-minute walk up hill, but within those 10 minutes you’ll be transported from a concrete path into a forested stroll through this hidden treasure in Goleta. You’ll see the gorgeous greens of the trees forming a canopy above, letting the sunlight flit in between the leaves.You’ll cross over a small creek using a wooden bridge, with fantastic lighting and background for your next instagram shot. It is truly a magical area that gets more and more beautiful the further you go up, especially after the rain. This time of year, everything’s a lot greener, there’s more water flowing, and the smells are amazing. If you haven’t been out there, you should take advantage of it while the weather is perfect.
Gorgeous greens throughout the entire trail.
Enjoy the relaxing sounds of birds chirping and the trickling stream as it twists past you and down to the parking lot. The excitement builds as you approach the raging sounds of the falls but be sure to take it slow and explore the area. There are plenty of strategically placed benches throughout the trail if you choose to sit down and take a rest. You can simply enjoy the view, or if you’re a kid like me, you can locate one of the many beautiful trees near the start of the trail with large holes in them—that almost look like they were carved—and poke your head in to hear your echo. About halfway through the trail, crossing the bridge you’ll see some stone stairs for you to continue on to the luscious green pathway.
The trail itself is very well kept, but can be slippery at times. Make sure to wear your hiking boots to make the most of your time out there. Most of the path is a steady incline but does get a bit steeper towards the end. As you get to the falls, it does become a little bit more challenging, as there are not as many solid stone steps. No worries though, just watch your step. The payoff is worth it and you’ll be able to feel the water spray to cool you down after the last few strides to the waterfall.
Don’t let the inclines scare you…the waterfall is worth it.
There’s a nice platform and seating area at the top for admiring the breathtaking scenery. From there you can see the glorious 80-foot cliffs as the waterfalls pour over them. The mountains go straight up, the trees are full of bright green leaves, there is moss covering the cliffs, there are ferns everywhere…. it’s simply magnificent and the most beautiful waterfall that I have beheld on the central coast. The scene looks like a place that you would see in Hawaii, and you’ll be glad you took the brief drive and walk to experience it.
The entire park is family friendly, making it perfect for taking your little ones to shed some energy. At the top of the trail, you’ll see a gate and warning signs saying, “Trail Closed,” “Hazardous Conditions,” “Do Not Enter.” But after visiting the park for the last 15 years, I can tell you that everybody does. I’ve seen everything from older people, to moms carrying babies and backpacks, to a ton of little kids all really enjoying themselves by the falls and throwing rocks into the stream.
Enjoy this family friendly hike all year round.
The parking lot has a reasonable amount of free parking, and restroom facilities if you need them before you head up the hill. There’s not really anywhere to picnic on the trail, but the park tucked away by the lot is a perfect spot with a romantic feel to it. It’s a great little secluded area that is well kept with nice trees, grassy areas, and picnic tables.
Overall, Nojoqui Falls Park is an easy trail with a pretty stunning pay off. This quick waterfall hike provides some easy exercise, peacefulness, nature, and it truly a hidden gem on the California Central Coast. As always, Keys 2 the Coast tells you the best places to wine, dine, and explore, and this is definitely a central coast hot spot.