McKay Creek

Reaching Sardine Falls requires an easy 1.2 mile hike on an unmarked trail but offers rewarding views of the surrounding Sierras as well as the falls themselves. There are actually two falls, the main Sardine Falls which drops about 50′ and a smaller waterfall downstream about 25′ high. Both falls are on McKay Creek which has plenty of runoff from the snow melt throughout the summer season. This destination gets quite a bit of foot traffic in the warm summer months but if you plan your trip on a weekday or late in the season you just might have the falls to yourself. The best time to visit Sardine Falls is in mid to late summer or the fall season when the surrounding aspen trees are showing off there autumn brilliance. Avoid spring and early summer as the beginning snow melt can create quite a torrent. ¬†Although the hike is short plan at least a couple of hours for exploring this beautiful area. The trail to the falls is not well established but mostly easy to follow. If you get lost, however, just follow the creek upstream until you can’t go any further.


To reach the trailhead to Sardine Falls drive 2.5 miles east of Sonora Pass and park at the pullout on the right, next to Sardine Meadow. Plug these coordinates (38.31505 -119.60737) into Google Earth for the parking area. Hike across Sardine Meadow until you pick up the trail which will take you to the falls. The elevation here is between 8500′ and 9000′ so plan accordingly as the weather in the Sierra Nevada Mountains can change dramatically in a matter of minutes.

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