Nojoqui Falls in Santa Barbara County

The Nojoqui Falls - Not far off Highway 101, and a short and easy walk up the trail, is this magical waterfall. Come in the wet season for full flow; but a visit in the summer offers rewards as well.

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Nojoqui Falls in full flow

The Nojoqui Falls - near Buellton in Santa Barbara County

creative commons by Anita Ritenour

30 Mar 2012


Waterfalls are one of a group of natural phenomenon that tend to draw us to themselves and hold us in rapt wonderment.

Like fire, the surf, and a sunset - waterfalls are always a refreshment and joy to behold.

Nojoqui (pronounced no-HO-wee) Falls is easily accessed from Highway 101 just south of Buellton. (Google Map for the Falls at Nojoqui)

Nojoqui Falls Quick Facts:

GPS coordinates: 34.5344, -120.1776 (main entrance to the park)

Hours: 8AM to Sunset

Phone: (805) 934-6211

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Nojoqui Falls is 1.5 miles east of Highway 101 near Gaviota Pass. From Highway 101, take the Old Coast Road to Alisal Road; from Solvang, follow Alisal Road south about 7 miles to the park.

The drive from Solvang is beautiful. It winds easily through oak trees hanging with moss. The filtered light is lovely most any time of day.

The park is part of the Santa Barbara County Park system and there are ball fields, picnic areas, restrooms and playgrounds available. Dogs are allowed and have to be on leash.

The picnic area and playground at Nojoqui Falls park

The playground and one of the picnic areas at Nojoqui Park

The park and surrounding area is located on the northern side of the Santa Ynez Mountains and is thickly wooded with oaks and sycamore.

The Trail:
The falls are accessible by a good walking path about 1/4 mile long. There are additional picnic tables a few hundred feet up the trail if you wish to take your lunch deeper in the woods. The trailhead sign explains most of the rules as well as warning you about mountain lions. The main rule concerning them: DON'T RUN AWAY! Scream, holler, open your jacket, stand up and look as big and menacing as you can.

Nojoqui Falls trailhead sign

As you progress up the pathway, you will cross over the creek flowing down from the falls several times. Be sure to watch out for tree roots and a walking stick is always a good idea on most any hike.

You'll also begin to get an idea of just how steep this little canyon really is.

The trail to the falls

Realize also that this is California, and we get the bulk of our rain in the winter. So, if you are visiting toward the end of summer or even early autumn, there will be very little water coming over the falls and down the creek. It will just be a trickle which comes from the springs above.

It is still a lovely hike and the falls are fascinating with just that trickle.

Dry creekbed from Nojoqui Falls

The Falls:

The Nojoqui Falls are not grand; they are about 80 feet high (though I have seen some sites which have them at 100 feet). The falls don't even fall straight down; they cascade down an incline of their own creation, built up by calcium deposits from the spring water.

The Nojoqui Falls in September after a dry winter

However, they are refreshing. If you are just coming into Central California from the south, the Falls are a good stop. They're not far off the highway, and not a long walk. It can be a very good tonic to rid yourself of some of the "Southern California manic disorder" and ease into the quieter nature of Central California.

If you are leaving Central California, a stop at the falls will give you a final taste of the slower-paced life that is available here on the Central Coast. And that little refresher might make the difference in getting you through to your next dose of the quieter life here.

If you are interested in further exploring waterfalls and waterfall photography, I can recommend an excellent site - The World of Waterfalls by Johnny T. Cheng. He and his wife have traveled the world to see waterfalls wherever they may occur. You'll enjoy the trip...the page I've linked to is about the best ways to photograph waterfalls. He has some great tips such as keeping your camera dry and how to have a great time.

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The steep sides of the canyon near Nojoqui Falls

Have you been here?

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You can click the "YOUR Favorites" link on the navigation bar to the left (it will be near the top part of the page). You can tell about your visit to Nojoqui Falls and post up to four photos!

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