Tony Krizan

Mysteries surrounding Corlieu Falls

Myself, as well as many of you, have hiked the remote trail along Lewis Creek. The most popular route is from Cedar Valley hiking up-stream past Corlieu Falls and finish at the parking lot above the falls. Keep in mind hiking from the parking lot is much easier, going downhill.

A few years ago the forest service added a platform on the south ridge wall, which is much safer for viewing the falls.

Also from the parking lot this same trail will still continue up stream by crossing the creek (only by boulder hopping across) because the old cedar log which was converted into a bridge years ago has been removed. Once on the other side you have a choice of following the trail upstream toward Sugar Pine Road, or follow the seldom used trail downstream just before it leads north from the creek.

Continue following this trail upward which will lead to a cabin foundation. This is the abandoned cabin or residence of Charles Clifford Corlieu. Folklore states he boastfully dubbed himself the “Cliff Man.” Mr. Corlieu had many titles - In his early years he was a teacher, raised stock, cut timber and was an active prospector with many claims in the Sugar Pine area. If one follows the trail north past his old cabin it will lead to a hard rock mine. It tunnels into the mountain more than 100 feet with a height of six plus feet.

I was surprised to discover that Mr. Corlieu also wrote a book called Sierra Sanctum. I’m still trying to discover its exact location. Speaking of another mystery - in my research, records state the Charles Clifford Corlieu was born on May 18, 1861, and lived to a ripe old age of 68 and died on July 19, 1929. He is buried somewhere around Corlieu Falls. I’ve followed up on one lead which stated a cross bearing his name was located next to the parking lot above the falls. Possibly after all these years it has been removed or just deteriorated over time. Could his location be another Sierra Mountain secret?

After 20 years of hiking through this area I finally located the hot spring associated with these falls. One will have to cross the creek and if the creek is at a high level (doubtful this year), the spring could possibly be under water. It’s roughly eight feet in diameter and only two feet deep. At least the pool water temperature is warmer than Lewis Creek.

Let’s get back to the Lewis Creek Trail that leads upstream. One hour from the stream crossing (discarded bridge) there is an old cabin foundation next to the trail. The remains of a fireplace and concrete foundation still offer a glimpse of the past. This is the remains of one of the 20 guest cabins built by Mr. Corlieu’s son-in-law in the 1920s. Could this have been another failed business venture?

Another 20 minutes hiking upstream, the noise of crashing water will introduce you to the 70-foot Red Rock Falls. Follow the secondary trail that leads down to its base for a scenic view. The main trail will continue and end at Sugar Pine Road. To return - retracing your footsteps (90 minutes) back to the parking area located above the removed old Cedar log crossing.

There are still a few mysteries waiting to be solved within our local mountains. So start hiking.