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Black Hole of Calcutta Falls

  4.0 ( 5 ) Favorite


2.1 mile 3.4 kilometer loop


Ascent: 121' 37 m
Descent: -122' -37 m
High: 701' 214 m
Low: 600' 183 m


Avg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 5% (3°)


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Trail shared by Glowering

An easy, popular, scenic trail that is great for families or older folks.


Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers

Family Friendly Easy and scenic


This is a short, easy hike along a section of the Western States Trail. It's 2.2 miles round-trip on mostly level trails to a nice wooden footbridge in front of a waterfall (when water is running seasonally).

Need to Know

The railroad brought limestone down from the Mountain Quarry a few miles up river to Auburn. The quarry is now a great local sport climbing area.


There is free parking (as far as I know) right next to the trailhead (along that section of 49 only) but it fills up fast on weekends or in season. The rest of Auburn State Recreation Area requires a parking pass, even along the roads. But this is a quick hike so you could go in the late afternoon and some spots may have opened up.

This is a short section of the Western States Trail which hosts 100 mile endurance runs and horseback races.

An obvious gate and sign show the start of the trails. It indicates 2.2 miles to Black Hole of Calcutta, which is round-trip. Go past the porta-potties and across No Hands Bridge (the long concrete arch bridge that was a railroad bridge) and follow the trail that was the old railroad track bed. A few short sections of narrow, winding singletrack bypass where old train trestles used to cut over some small canyons (you can still see the footings).

There is a nice wooden bridge in front of the falls.

Winter or spring are probably the best time for this hike since the waterfall will be going, and it won't be too hot. Summer would probably be best only early in the morning before it gets full sun and is too hot. Fall would be good temperature-wise, but the falls may be dry.

History & Background

The trail runs along the old railroad bed and bridge for the Mountain Quarries railroad.

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ADA Accessible, Flora & Fauna

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Jun 8, 2019
Justine S
May 12, 2019
Ross Buchholz
Great easy hike on a hot day. Easy to get to a small section of the river. 2.3mi — 2h 00m

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 5 votes


  4.0 from 5 votes
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