– 4 mile hike (great for beginners, like us)
– Bring water and sunscreen
– Don’t pack a picnic for the hike (picnic at Huntington or somewhere else nearby)
For Father’s Day this year, Rob requested we go up to Huntington Lake and Rancheria Falls for the day. This is a special place for both of us, as he has many memories of camping with his friends at this lake, and I spent many summers here with my family when I was a kid. We also were married six years ago on top of a mountain that overlooks this lake. So now we want to start creating new memories here for and with our children. We packed a simple picnic this time around, knowing that the hike was going to be the main event of the day rather than the food. So we went down to some tables along the lake right by the Huntington Lake Marina. We also ended up getting some French fries and spending some time on the deck before driving to Rancheria Falls. I would discourage bringing a picnic on the hike to the falls as there is nowhere to really sit and eat comfortably that isn’t a high traffic area. (Although, we didn’t go off the beaten path, so there may be nice areas if you want to get off the trail a bit.)
The burger shack at the marina has changed owners and we only tried the fries, which were what you’d expect. Good but nothing spectacular. The deck is a really nice lookout over the lake so this could be another good option for lunch. Do be aware that the hours of the restaurant are inconsistent. They were open when we were there so I think you’ll be good for the rest of the summer, but I can’t say that for sure.
Hiking to Rancheria Fall
The hike to Rancheria Falls is about 4 miles, which I didn’t know when we did the hike. Being new to hiking with children, that number might have scared me away from this trek, but it was actually a great experience and our 3 and 5 year old walked the whole way, no complaints.
Along the fairly level trail, there were many felled (yes that’s a word 😉, I looked it up) trees that the kids enjoyed climbing over and under and added to the fun of the hike. When we went in mid-June there were also still patches of snow along the path that added to the excitement.
Do be aware that as you approach the falls, there are some areas where the path is close to a fairly steep cliff. We cautioned the kids to be aware and tried to keep them on the inside of the path and they did just fine.
The falls are absolutely spectacular this year! Because of all of the snow this past winter they are flowing heavier than I have ever seen. Rob and I agreed that Rancheria Falls rivals any of the waterfalls we’ve seen in Yosemite and it was much less crowded. There was still a steady flow of hikers but nothing like in YNP.
Because there is so much water there is also a ton of mist, which was really refreshing at the end of the two miles in. It also was creating this gorgeous rainbow!
There were so many things for the kids to stop and explore. We took our time and moved to the side to allow the other groups of hikers to pass. With our leisurely pace and all of the diversions, the kids never got too tired to keep going. I think this is a great introductory trail for families! It was for us!
If you do take this hike remember to bring lots of water and sunscreen! Even if it’s a cooler day there are a lot of exposed parts of the path and the higher altitude definitely makes you thirsty faster. Let us know if you have been on this hike or if this post inspires you to check it out! We’d love to hear what you think!