The last time I went on a hike in Riverside for the purposes of this column, I was slightly disappointed. I typically like the hikes I go on to be a good balance of interesting and challenging. Hiking up to the “Big C” in Riverside was far more difficult than the reward was interesting. I ventured back into Riverside with hopes of redeeming my past experience and definitely found what I was looking for in Graffiti Waterfall.
Located within a relatively nice planned community resting upon rolling hills of rocks and desert scrub, Graffiti Waterfall is a hidden oasis in an otherwise mundane location. This location is pretty difficult to access, a significant amount of up and downhill hiking. It even requires hikers to scale down a very steep rock wall if they are interested in accessing the base of the waterfall.
Quite characteristically, Riverside was hot as hell, which made the trek through the hilly scrubland all the more difficult. Also, the online directions leading to the trailhead are not very accurate, making for a confusing journey.
As far as I could tell, the best point at which to begin the hike is a chain link gate that leads down the side of a hill. This entrance is located on Skyridge Drive in Riverside between Glendon Creek Court and Crescent Glen Court. The parking on Skyridge is legal and free, and puts you right at the entrance of the trail. Enter the gate and descend down a concrete staircase. Soon, any man–made evidence of a trail, or any beaten path for that matter, should completely disappear. At the bottom of the staircase is thick brush that has grown along a small creek. This creek will eventually lead to the falls.
The vegetation quickly becomes a considerable obstacle. I opted to avoid it by walking up the steep, rocky hill to the right of the stream, which wasn’t much better. I would only recommend this route if you’re really trying to challenge yourself because it wasn’t very fun.
There were portions during which I had to scramble up steep and loosely piled mountains of rocks, which were not only constantly giving way under the weight of my steps, but were also as hot as skillets.
Once the tops of the rocks are reached, the falls come into view. From a distance, the collage of graffiti blurs together to look like a continuous coat of light blue paint. Juxtaposed with the harsh desert wasteland surrounding it, the cool colors look incredibly inviting and immediately drew the attention of my eye. It may sound silly, but the sight immediately reminded me of Jodhpur, a city in India, famous for being painted the same shade of blue. From this vantage point, the hike to the top of the falls is either flat or downhill and is a welcome departure from any sort of hard work. However, this period of relief is a brief one. Once hikers reach the top of the falls and look down into the small, painted canyon, two thoughts will enter their minds: 1) This place is incredibly beautiful and 2) how the hell am I supposed to get down there?
This part of the hike is extremely difficult, and was in fact the most difficult part of any hike I’ve ever been on in my life. The walls are steep and at some parts, slick with water from the falls. This extremely difficult descent requires both arm and leg strength to be accomplished safely and successfully. Attempt this at your own risk.
If you manage to reach the bottom, it is absolutely worth it. The view from the bottom of the massive rock wall covered in graffiti art is breathtaking. Paired with the refreshing mist that hangs in the air near the base of the falls, this location is nothing short of paradise. There is even a canopy of trees providing much welcomed shade. For some unexplained reason, there is also a large population of butterflies in the area. It’s something straight out of a movie.
After admiring the work and basking in the glory of Graffiti Falls, hikers will still have a difficult journey ahead of them. Climbing back up the wall is not recommended. I managed to get out by pushing through some of the dense vegetation back up to the top of the falls. It was difficult, but it was worth it because I avoided the risk of a crippling injury. Getting back to the street from the top of falls requires going back the same way you came. The whole hike is exhausting and very difficult, but this is one waterfall that is worth chasing.
This is definitely a great date place or hangout spot if you are in the area.