On weekdays only, you can park for two hours along Pinecrest Drive—plenty of time for the roughly 1.75-mile round trip.
Don't let the scary signs and barbed wire fool you: The narrow gate to the left is open for public use during daylight hours. Starting from here skips the uneventful, wide trail that begins at the nature center. If you decide to stay past sundown, you'll have to follow the trail a mile south to the main gate.
The vista from the gate is gorgeous, though that top-down view means you'll be ending your hike with a sunny uphill walk. On the way down, follow the dirt and paved trails and cross the bridge.
When you get to the fork, take the low road on the right, lest you find yourself climbing 1,300 feet to the Henninger Flats. Follow the low trail until the road forks again and head right in the direction of the bridge. You'll find a few gravelly shortcuts before the switchback, but they can be a bit unstable.
After crossing underneath the bridge, you'll find yourself on a shaded forest trail that careens along—and through—the creek.
You'll have to cross the creek pretty often, so make sure to wear comfortable, waterproof shoes and socks. Some of the crossings are easily marked.
At other spots, you're left finding your own way across. You might want to bring along a walking stick if you have a tough time with slippery rocks.
The hike can change depending on season. If you go in the summer or fall, the creek will be drier and easier to cross, but you'll also find less shade and fewer leafy trees. Go in the winter or spring and you'll find a lush forest floor with wetter river crossings.
With that whole safety spiel out of the way, even novice hikers should feel comfortable. The trail—please, please don't go off trail—can get rocky and split into a few branches, but all sections of the fairly level route lead to the same place. If you're ever confused about which way to go, just follow the river or the narrow canyon walls.
Once you hit this sunny clearing, the waterfall isn't much farther around the bend.
The trail becomes increasingly boulder-filled as you approach the waterfall. You'll start to hear the sound of rushing water—and maybe a screaming baby and a barking dog.
If you've planned it properly, the waterfall area shouldn't be too crowded, not at all like the spring break-esque scene on weekends.
If you need to cool off before heading out, well, here's a waterfall. As for that hike back, look to the opposing traffic for hints to find the best return route.