Center for Forestry at UC Berkeley
University of California
Center for Forestry at UC Berkeley

Pilot Creek Falls (University Falls)

Description of Falls

Pilot Creek Falls (a.k.a University Falls) are undeveloped wildlands overseen by UC Center for Forestry. Access may be PROHIBITED ANY TIME.

Due to impacts on research,








Several issues and hazards exist:

- The route leading to the falls passes through public and private lands. Land surrounding the falls is PRIVATE. The trail to the falls is undeveloped and can be very hazardous.

- Getting to the falls involves a 5.4 mile round trip along dirt roads and an unimproved trail. The elevation change is 1200 feet and involves a steep ascent.

- Several injuries and fatalities have occurred. Slippery rocks and the slippery trail have also caused injuries.

- Water may be unsafe for drinking and swimming from upstream contamination.

- Emergency response may take 2 or more hours. There is no cellular reception at or en route to the falls.

- Street side parking is limited. Illegal parking (in Quintette or across white lines) can lead to your vehicle being cited and likely towed at your expense.

- There are no restrooms or garbage service at or along the route to the falls.

Several local and legal alternatives exist:

Stumpy Meadows Reservoir (swimming, boating)- 5 miles east on Wentworth Springs Road

Rubicon River at Elicott's crossing (swimming, rocks, hiking)- 12 miles East on Wentworth Springs Road, 4.5 miles north on 11 Pines Road.

Bassi Falls (water falls)- 20 miles East on Wentworth Springs Road, 9 miles South on Ice House Road



29 Comments - Post Comment

Privately owned by a publicly funded school? I cry fowl on this. The public deserves access to the beautiful and amazing natural areas in California. I recently tried fishing Pilot Creek only to find every access gated and locked..on National Forest land. What is going on? It's sad that the USFS believes the public is too stupid and irresponsible to enjoy the lands we publicly fund. This is ridiculous.

Posted by Concerned Taxpayer on June 3, 2017

Reply posted on June 17, 2017

You can contact public lands managers for concerns on public lands. The no trespassing policy at the falls is still in place. 

Thank you so much for the informative post.

Posted by David on May 2, 2017

Very detailed discussion. Thanks for sharing your insights! breast cancer research bucks county

Posted by breast cancer research bucks county on November 3, 2016

why can't this location be managed like hidden falls in Lincoln? A beautiful trail with falls that ours as well as other families have enjoyed year after year. Hiking no matter what is dangerous, many people are injured each year no matter how well the trails are maintained. But closing the place down seems excessive since many have enjoyed this location responsibly

Posted by Sandra on June 7, 2016

Reply posted on June 17, 2017

Closing it was the only feasible option. There is currently no agency willing to manage activity and mitigate impacts of use. 

Hmm...I am new to the state and flabbergasted by the trash our younger generation is leaving.. The beaches area great example. That aside, what would you suggest as the most viable way to reopen the falls? A sustainable volunteer group to clean and police the area? A "neighborhood watch" system with marked vests when they are patrolling? If the group is not able to sustain the effort then a re closure? A petition?

Posted by Leslie on October 19, 2015

Reply posted on October 19, 2015

Those are good ideas, but unfortunately they are not practical in this situation. Opening would take coordination with an agency that manages for recreation. Or a transfer of the land to such an agency.

The U.S. Forest Service routinely does land swaps with neighboring private/state lands, usually to "clean up" the boundaries (make it more contiguous), but sometimes, just because of public demands. I kind of doubt that they'd want to, due to the high maintenance of this place, and the fact that it would take a major undertaking to build a real trail, but if the public demand was high enough, it could happen. You need to write a lot of letters to the Georgetown Ranger District. In your letters, emphasis should be on things like "sediment delivery to the stream, causing degradation to endangered species", not "I want to go swimming". Also, there will have to be a "friends of university falls" group that maintains everything. It's a big deal to do this, and general grousing won't get things done. Choose a leader, and get a petition. The Georgetown Ranger Station number is 530-333-4312. The main headquarters number is 530-622-5061. That's the number to call if you want to talk to somebody about a land swap. Good luck.

Posted by Brent Tannehill on July 27, 2015

Reply posted on July 30, 2015

There have been some attempts at land swaps in this location, one recently. USFS was not interested in including the falls in a swap at that time, however. There were not measurable water quality impacts at the falls, although there was potential for them to develop. 

Wow this is shocking .. I'm so sad that they closed it down ... I have some great memories from my child hood there ... and yes people that don't give a cap about the beautiful place should be fined and not allowed there ... I hope that one day the they can open it up so many can enjoy the trails and the the amazing views ... people should know better not to go if u can't handle the mother nature

Posted by Daniil Lebich on July 16, 2015

Amazing place! I'm on my way!

Posted by Phil Crackerbottom on June 25, 2015

Reply posted on July 30, 2015

The no trespassing policy is still being enforced.

I'm sorry but I'm going... I was just diagnosed with breast cancer. I'm still very strong. I do the p90x, im a gymnast, a dancer, i take 15-20 mile hikes because 5 mile hikes are easy for me.. I'm enjoying my life. I've been to more treacherous places.. Like gods bath.. Just went there last weekend. Way more dangerous than this. I'm going.. You can fine me all you want. I'm also a photographer.. I hike and take pictures of beautiful places. I'm very respectful of nature and Im always safe. I'm sorry I'm going.

Posted by Alexis on June 25, 2015

Reply posted on July 30, 2015

Thanks for the comment and for respecting nature. The no trespassing policy applies to everyone.

Its very sad there not too many places that young people can go to have fun without costing a lot that's why the crime rate has went up in the us because we take away the things that keep the youth out of trouble its sad to think what my country has come to I think instead of taking thing a way or closing things done permently isn't the answer why can't we find a solution to this don't we live in the united states of america

Posted by darlene botello on May 28, 2015

I will go regardless because it is beautiful, it is public land, I am responsible for myself and the risks I take, and lastly I can afford the tickets....

Posted by Mike on October 6, 2014

Reply posted on October 7, 2014

It is not public land. It is private. I hope we do not see you there.

It's really sad that it came to this, but I'm not surprised. People have been abusing this area (and most other reasonably accessible remote recreation areas I can think of) for too long. I'm not sure what has clicked in people's brains in the last 5 years or so that so many people are getting into nature, but completely trashing it. What a shame. This place was a natural wonder, left in a natural state. Of course it carried dangers as a result, but caution and proper Leave No Trace procedures kept it wonderful for everyone. I hope that the area is able to heal and some day it will be accessible again to the public!

Posted by Chris B on September 4, 2014

I love going to places like this, and am very respectful when I do. I understand the closing, but there's no need to act so absolute about it. If the trail is dangerous, make sure there are plenty of warnings.. i.e. "Not suitable for young children or weak humans". If people are trashing the place, make some warning sign like "If found with disposable waste, and no means to trek it out of here, you will be shot on sight." Just suggestions of course.

Posted by Drew Schott on September 3, 2014

Reply posted on September 4, 2014

Many different types and amounts of signs were used, but they were not sufficient.

Unfortunately, people seem to be getting much more disrespectful of the outdoors. I'm seeing these same issues at many of my favorite places. The one that bothers me most is the massive amounts of toilet paper left everywhere - Bring a small ziploc and pack that stuff out!

Posted by Larry Whiting on August 27, 2014

I have been going to the falls since the 70's. Yes in the last few years the trash has been bad. I am stunned by the disregard for a beautiful place. I went August 6, 2014 and a group of us picked up all the trash, fecal matter, and bottles. The falls are cleaner then ever. I am 51 years old, the hike is great...not bad. I hope this can be a place I can go for the next few years. It is beautiful!!!

Posted by Jonna on August 22, 2014

Instead of closing the trail, how about having a public clean up day since the number if people who respect and appreciate nature far outweigh the number of irresponsible abusers of this area. I think it is wrong to deny everyone access when many of us would gladly chip in and maintain the trail.

Posted by Andrea Williams on August 19, 2014

Reply posted on August 19, 2014

Good idea, but it would take constant staffing and volunteerism to be able to either clean up or make sure people cleaned up after themselves. Unfortunately, neither is sustainable in this situation. There are several other impacts besides littering. If an agency that managed recreation owned the land, then it could perhaps be open to public use.

Good move....thank you.

Posted by Elizabeth on August 18, 2014

I am happy to see this action. Too many people have been disrespectful and careless towards a lovely area and have forced this closure. Laziness and drunken stupidity left the trail head and trail filled with litter and human waste. There is no excuse for that disregard of our natural resources and as a result it has been closed in order to keep the vermin away. Thank you Blodgett Forest administrators!

Posted by george r bingen on August 18, 2014

I guess enough bitching would close heaven too.

Posted by Dave M on August 18, 2014

So glad to see this! My 12 year old broke her leg in 2 places there. Took 3 hours to get her out. Thankfully strangers helped us. They took turns carrying her on their backs. Some places the terrain was so steep my husband was on his hands and knees with her on his back. No cellphone coverage. Not a safe place!

Posted by concerned mom on August 16, 2014

Good! That place has been abused for the past few years. Let nature heal. Too bad people don't respect these awesome places.

Posted by Juli O on August 15, 2014

Sad it had to come to this . But anyone that drove by and saw all the trash at the gates knew it was coming .Just hope law enforcement sites the people that ignore the closure because odds are these are the people that caused most of the problems .

Posted by anthony arellanes on August 15, 2014

Thank you for taking action. I hope the falls will recover naturally now that they are being given a break from too many people.

Posted by Kelly D on August 15, 2014

Sad that the overuse of this beautiful resource has driven this to happen. People abusing nature, leaving trash all over that others have been cleaning up and the wreckless behavior that has led to many fatalities and injuries. People unfortunately do not know how to not take advantage of these things and it ruins it for everyone else. Happy this is happening, but sad as well.

Posted by Ken on August 15, 2014

Reply posted on August 18, 2014

Perhaps it could be opened up for safe recreation in the future if an agency that managed for public recreation would be willing to see it as an opportunity.

Does anyone know when the falls will reopen to the public?

Posted by Jon on August 14, 2014

Reply posted on August 14, 2014

Not for the foreseeable future, unfortunately. They will not be open until there is a way to manage recreation safely.

I am so glad to see the changes. The general public has polluted, trashed and exploited a beautiful place. It's a shame but with such over exposure from the news, internet and word of mouth there are just TOO many people for the trail and the land around the falls, and the parking situation was a major accident waiting to happen. Too much vandalism, litter, human waste and too little concern for the environment and wildlife. Hopefully the Blodgett staff will be treated in a respectful manner as they face the very difficult and NOT fun job of turning people away. I applaud your efforts and appreciate what you're doing.

Posted by Krysten Trost on August 12, 2014

Mother Nature has suffered greatly at the hands of some very careless people and it looks like it's going to take some time to restore the trails and the falls back to the way it was. To enjoy such natural gifts comes with certain responsibilities

Posted by Michelle G. on August 12, 2014

They are turning people away from sliding down the falls!

Posted by RY on August 10, 2014

Ah come on, people are just trying to have fun. Can't we think of a way to make money on it and make everyone happy?

Posted by Tim Peacock on August 9, 2014

Reply posted on August 10, 2014

Unfortunately, "fun" is not an adequate justification for the impacts.

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