This short spur trail off the Mountain Ash Creek Trail
climbs 270 feet to view the spectacular 250-foot Union Falls
. The trail follows Mountain Ash Creek all the way to the falls. At the .6-mile mark the trail makes an easy ford to the west side of Mountain Ash Creek, just upstream from its junction with a large unnamed tributary (sometimes called the "North Fork"). There are several good campsites in this area. Notice the striking difference in temperature between Mountain Ash Creek, which is a typical cold mountain stream, and its tributary, which is naturally heated by upstream thermal activity. A good friend joked that this is the only backcountry campsite with "hot and cold running water!"
From the ford, the trail begins to climb. At the 1.6-mile mark, the trail passes the North Fork Trail
on the left, a .3 mile spur trail to a naturally heated swimming hole at the base of a small falls, known as "Scout Pool." The Union Falls
Trail continues straight another 1/2 mile to a viewing area for Union Falls
on the edge of its canyon. At 250 feet, Union Falls
is the tallest named backcountry waterfall in the park. It was named "Union" because it is really two falls in one. Two separate creeks come together at the brink of the falls. Water from the eastern creek fans out, forming a delicate veil of water over an ominous rock face, while the northern creek shoots in from the side. Lush, green vegetation and flowers nurtured by the waterfall's spray abound. Do not try to reach the base of the falls; it is dangerous and damaging to the vegetation. Union Falls
faces west and does not become illuminated by the sun until late morning. It is therefore best photographed in the afternoon.