Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
470.00 ft (143.26 m)
Trail type
2.40 mi (3.86 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The hike to University Falls is closed to public access indefinitely due to health concerns and overuse.

This short hike is a perfect appetizer for the refreshing pools at University Falls. Look for the start of the trail at the a large yellow metal gate, and begin hiking on the one lane road that is dominated on both sides by large pine trees. Small lizards love to sun on the outskirts of the trail, and they can be seen scampering away as your footsteps approach. The trail is fairly shaded, though it can become rather hot and dusty in the summer months.  The first section of the trail is fairly easy, and it gradually winds down to the steeper and more technical second section.

After passing by a small creek, you will find yourself on a much narrower section of trail that is dominated by rocks and has a much steeper grade. Be very careful with your footing as you make your way down, as the dirt is loose and likes to shift underfoot. You can rest assured that you are near the bottom when you see two old, rusted-out cars to the left of the trail. After passing this point you will reach Pilot Creek. Proceed a little further for the natural water slides and swimming holes at University Falls. Though very popular, note that the slides can be dangerous and should be fully examined for any safety hazards before attempting. The first three slides are commonly used; the fourth slide is very dangerous and not safe for sliding. If you follow the trail to the very end, it will lead to a small lookout point for a great view down Pilot Creek.  

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Swimming holes. Natural waterslides. Short hike.


Crowded. Limited parking.

Trailhead Elevation

3,940.00 ft (1,200.91 m)



Typically multi-day


Suitable for



Nearby Lodging + Camping

North Fork of the American River
Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, California


Hello, there is nothing in this article noting that this site has been closed for five years now. There is no public access. Don't encourage trespassing, please take this hike down or at least put a prominent note at the top.
Thank you, April, we've noted the closure in the alert section for this adventure.
I drove two hours to get there and 1) there's no signage anywhere of where it is/where the trail begins. 2) after driving for an additional 25 min asked a camping manager who informed us that the trail has been shut down due to health and sanitarity reasons; people not picking up after themselves, going to the restroom everywhere, etc, so there's bacteria and E. coli and the place has been closed off. Even though they've tried to shut it down, people still go but it's dangerous and if you get caught you can get fined. This place should be taken off the map so other people don't have to waste a day driving around looking for a place that is no longer accessible.
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