Best Urban Waterfall

September 20, 2012

Waterfall in McKinleyville - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • photo by Heidi Walters
  • Waterfall in McKinleyville

There is a spot along Turner Road, on the south edge of downtown McKinleyville, where you can stand in a light-dappled forest and hear the steady, soothing whir of traffic on Highway 101 nearby. Walk a few yards and the sound becomes suddenly brighter, closer, not as compact and forward-sounding. It's the even more soothing whir of water cascading.

Walk to the edge of the narrow country lane and you'll see it: a short path that drops precipitously downward and, suspended among the leafy black-and-green, a frothing whiteness. A waterfall! Right next to the Mill Creek shopping center! Why, you could soak up some nature here, feeling as if you were in the wild beyond, then amble over to watch a movie or get groceries. Amazing, really. And what's even more amazing is the town hasn't given it even a backward glance. The land around it has suffered as a consequence. Word gets out when you've got a beautiful waterfall in the neighborhood, within walking distance of a big parking lot. We're spreading it right here. But the path that wobbles down to the base of this gorgeous fall is a nasty, makeshift scrape made by feet, not engineers, and not only is it slippery and dangerous, but years of urban waterfall seekers have eroded the bank. Plus, folks looking for this place likely will just drive onto the road leading to it, rather than park at the shopping center and walk in. There's one teensy pullout, so they'll keep driving until they're intruding upon a paradise of private property dotted by cows milling around a scooped-out pasture pond. Probably the neighbors there get tired of this.

How about a little direction, town planners -- not so much to make it easy on the seekers, but to protect the stream bank and the privacy of the residents nearby?

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

This place is considered sacred by local tribes, or so I have been told on numerous occasions when I have inquired about it to those that grew up here. That may be why there is no local promotion of it.

Posted by Ava H. on 09/20/2012 at 12:47 PM

For anybody that visits this place, the last thing it needs is more publicity or the city to be involved. It now serves as a dumping ground for pot growers and meth addicts and a parking lot will just make it easier. Every beautiful spot that nature has shouldn't be exploited and made accessible in the name of preservation... More visitors rarely brings preservation.

Posted by CC on 09/20/2012 at 1:48 PM

As a neighbor of this beautiful waterfall, I can say that we love our little hidden treasure.
We just ask that visitors remember to be respectful of other's property (this is a private road, not a public park), take all your trash with you, and please, PLEASE keep your dogs leashed.

Posted by Resident on 09/20/2012 at 3:12 PM

I used to think that something should be "done" with that property, but I've changed my mind. Leave it the way it is. If we wanted to improve public access, we'd have to buy the property from the private owner. Then we'd have to get all sorts of permits. We'd probably end up building a parking lot and we'd carve up the landscape with an ADA accessible trail. Basically, we'd screw up a good thing. Another nice thing about the waterfall – when I go there I always have the place to myself. There is one thing, however, that we need to do. Measure the falls. That's on my to-do list. When you walk down that treacherous trail, part way down there's a cement pad. Is that a remnant of the old mill?

Posted by Jack Durham on 09/21/2012 at 8:14 AM

The cement pad is a remnant of the water line used to fill steam locomotives back in the day.

Posted by PG on 09/22/2012 at 2:37 PM
Showing 1-5 of 5

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