Distance: 4 miles | Hiking time: 3 hours | More trail info.
Last summer a friend and I decided to hike Three Sisters Falls. We chose the absolute worst time of year to make the trek and we were disappointed, but not surprised, to find that the falls were dry. At the time, I was less than impressed with my experience, and that lack of excitement was clearly laid out in my last Three Sisters Falls trail report.
If you’re considering hiking Three Sisters Falls during the summer or in hot weather and haven’t read my earlier trail report, I highly recommend doing so before your visit. However, if you’re short on time, here’s a summary of my experience:
It was dangerously hot. The falls were dry. And the only water on the hike was mucky, green and full of litter.
Hiking in Summer vs. Spring
Let me tell you how a hike during prime Three Sisters Falls season compares to a midsummer off-season hike.
We started the hike to Three Sisters Falls around 9:00 am on a Tuesday morning after completing a hike to Eagle Peak, which shares the same trailhead. From the trail junction, we began our decent into the valley and towards the creek where we could hear the sound of the falls crashing in the distance.
The trail was similar in condition to my experience in August, with litter scattered about, particularly discarded water bottles.
Trash is a problem on the trail for two main reasons:
- First, the popularity and accessibility of the Three Sisters Falls hike attract many hikers who are not familiar with Leave No Trace principles.
- Second, the trail is not maintained, and there are no trash cans available anywhere along the hike, from the trailhead to the valley. As a result, some visitors are quick to discard their trash along the trail.
The only noticeable difference on my recent trip was the availability of more ropes to aid hikers on their descent into the valley. The steep and heavily trafficked trail can be treacherous in places due to a lack of maintenance. That was the case when I visited in August, and it was still the case on my recent trip in early April.
It’s Just as Beautiful as I’ve Heard
I was delighted to find crystal clear water flowing over the boulders that were dry on my last visit as we walked towards the creek in the valley. Unfortunately, we encountered trash in the water and on the trail at every turn, and although we also found some graffiti, it was less severe than at other popular hikes such as Adobe Falls or The Mushroom Caves.
As we made our way up the creek, we stopped to take photos of the many smaller falls we found along the way. We made our way towards the Three Sisters until we reached the base of the first fall, which was flowing nicely and had cool, refreshing water.
We took a brief break for some photographs before continuing on up to the second, then the first and biggest of the Three Sisters Falls.The water became clearer and more inviting with each stop until we arrived at the large pool beneath the biggest fall. A group of kids who were swimming in the pool confirmed that the water was REALLY cold!
I wasn’t brave enough to test the waters myself. The thought of runoff, and who knows what all else that may be contaminating the water further upstream, kept me from doing so. Had there been a heavier flow and if the day were a little warmer, I think I may have had a difficult time resisting. But as it was, I was just fine sitting it out and watching others enjoy the cool waters of Three Sisters Falls.
In the end, Three Sisters Falls is just as beautiful as I had hoped and imagined it might be with the water flowing. The water levels were relatively low, but there was still plenty of water flowing to keep it fresh and clear. Trash on this hike, unfortunately, continues to be a significant issue. Please do your part to keep the trail clean and the hike enjoyable for everyone by packing out your trash.
Here are some quick tips to keep in mind for your visit to Three Sisters Falls:
- There are no toilets, trash cans or other facilities anywhere on the trail
- Wear hiking shoes or trail runners
- Use caution when navigating the more treacherous parts of the trail
- Bring plenty of water, at least 2 liters to avoid dehydration
- Don’t underestimate the difficulty of the hike out
- And please… PACK OUT YOUR TRASH! The trail is here for all to enjoy.
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