We have tried the Switzer Falls hike a few times with friends, but have never made it very far (due to those pesky kids playing in the creek!). We were jonesing for a hike and decided to give it another go. I had forgotten to check online to see how long the hike was before we set off. I had a feeling it was longer than our normal 3 miles, but it was too late once we were on the trail, determined and with no phone service! We would have to wing it and see how far we could make it this time.
The trail begins as you cross the wooden bridge behind the Switzer Falls Picnic/Parking area. The first half of the hike is shady and relatively flat, following a small creek before climbing the cliff side to reveal beautiful views over the mountains.
Once you climb the small hill, the trail meanders along the cliff letting you soak up the views around you. The trail soon descends again leading to the intersection of Bear Canyon and Switzer Falls. Take a left for Switzer Falls. A small waterfall and pool is located a few minutes walk further along the stream. This trail has lots of stream crossings, so wear water shoes, jump or be prepared to get wet!
This is a great year round hike to do with kids. You don’t have to finish it to enjoy it. In the heat of summer, let the kids splash around in the shady sections of the creek rather than focusing on completing the entire hike. The first half of the hike is shaded well, so it is relatively cool even on hot summer days. If you do manage to make it up the cliff in the heat (with no shade), the waterfall pool at the end will cool you off! For cool overcast days, exercise those lungs and legs and work your way all to the end.
Surprisingly, we were able to complete the entire hike. Even at 4.5 miles, this is a relatively easy hike. Our son managed to make it almost back to the parking area before he started complaining. He made it though, all the way to the end without being carried, but not without several stops to rest his weary legs! It was a rare chilly day, so we turned around quickly at the falls without much of a break. Next time, we will spend some time at the waterfall to rest and rejuvenate for the walk back.
Parking: The Adventure Pass is required. For a list of shops selling it, go here, or purchase at the ranger station on the way to the trail parking lot. $5 cash only. The parking area for Switzer Falls is just past the ranger station. Head all the way to the bottom for parking. If it’s full, you might have to park at the top which adds quite a bit more to your hike. We have always been lucky to get parking down below, but on busy summer weekends, it might be more difficult.
What to Bring: Water shoes, sunscreen, hats, towels, snacks and water
Other Info: This hike is not stroller friendly. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.