The trail to Fairy Falls (also known as Beale Falls) is located near Camp Far West Lake just outside of Wheatland, CA, in the Spencerville Wildlife Area. It's about an hour and a half from Sacramento, but definitely worth the trip if you like hiking and swimming. A round trip to the falls is a little more than 5 miles, and the trail is easy, except for the climb down the cliff trail to the main falls. After passing by Camp Far West Lake on a dirt road, you will come to this sign at a fork in the road, which signifies that you are in the right area.
After passing the sign, you drive down the gravel road for another mile or so before you reach the parking lot, which is really just an area of rocky dirt where you can park on the left hand side of the road. The trailhead starts at the gate, which blocks off entry to the bridge that crosses Dry Creek.
After crossing the bridge, you take a right to get to the falls. There is a sign posted on the fence to help lead you in the right direction.
The first part of the trail is a dirt road that winds through a dry (in July) oak forest.
After about a mile, the road splits off with a closed white gate on the left fork. To get to the falls, take the right fork.
About 100 feet past the fork, you will come to another white gate with a smaller gate that is accessible to foot traffic.
About .3 miles past the gate, you will come to a 3-way split in the trail.
There is a small plywood sign that explains where each trail goes. The left fork takes you to an area above the main falls, the right fork is the dirt road trail, which follows alongside Dry Creek and provides access to some smaller swimming holes and smaller waterfalls below the main falls. The middle fork cuts through the oak forest but eventually connects back to the lower dirt road trail.
I took the upper trail to check out the falls from above. The upper falls trail is only wide enough for one person, and it winds through more oak forest.
Eventually, the upper trail reconnects with the lower dirt road trail at a point that is above the falls. If you continue forward (i.e., to the left) for a couple hundred more feet, you will wind up above the big falls.
There is a fence around the upper part of the falls to prevent people from falling over the edge, but there is a moderately sketchy trail that you have to make your way down to get down to the swimming hole. I would not recommend bringing small children down the path, as it takes a bit of rock climbing down the side of a cliff to get down to the water. It's not real difficult, but could be dangerous for smaller children. There are some more kid friendly swimming spots down the creek about .1 miles (I show pictures of them below).
If you turn around and go back down the dirt road trail, you will wind up at the creek where there is a small set of falls and a nice swimming hole that is perfect for kids.
From there, you can follow a path up the side of the creek towards the main falls. Along the way, there is a medium sized waterfall (see below) that I did not go down to but plan on checking out next time I come.
A little further up the path and after a climb down a rocky cliff path down to the falls, you arrive at Fairy Falls!
The water was pretty warm at the beginning of July, and I was able to swim out under the falls without any issue. There is a mild current, but I was able to swim against it without any serious difficulty.
It gets pretty hot out there in the summer (especially on the hike back...it was 96 degrees today), so make sure to bring plenty of water. I consumed between 3-4 liters of water (but I had a wilderness water filter and was gone for about 4 hours). Here's a few more pics below. I hope you enjoy! If you have any questions or just want to leave me a comment, feel free to do so by clicking HERE!