Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms
Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms - Angeles National Forest Offers Multiple Waterfall Hikes
Sprawling across 700,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains, Angeles National Forest is one of LA's greatest escapes. This vast wilderness area contains an incredible diversity of landscapes, from chaparral-covered mountainsides to pine forests and cascading waterfalls. For those seeking a refreshing hike near the water, Angeles National Forest offers numerous trails leading to gorgeous falls.
One of the most popular is Eaton Canyon Falls. The hike to these 40-foot falls is an easy 3-mile round trip that can be completed in as little as an hour. Eaton Canyon is especially nice for families, as the trail is wide and sandy with minimal elevation gain. Once you reach the base of the falls, there are large pools perfect for swimming on hot days.
If you're up for more of an adventure, head to Hermit Falls. Located in a rugged canyon below the Hollywood Sign, this trail descends 600 feet over 2.5 miles. Be prepared for climbing over boulders, wading through pools, and even rappelling down ropes to reach the final tier of falls. The secluded setting beneath a canopy of trees makes Hermit Falls feel worlds away from the city.
For a shady hike accompanied by the soothing sound of cascading water, check out Solstice Canyon Falls. The 2.6 mile roundtrip passes through a lush riparian habitat with clifftop views of the Pacific. A short spur trail takes you to the base of the 50-foot falls, which flows year-round. Cool off with a refreshing swim in the pool below.
Angeles National Forest is also home to several historic falls accessible via the Mount Wilson Trail. Located above Sierra Madre, this wooded trail leads past Sturtevant Falls and Hermit Falls on its way up the San Gabriel Mountains. Sturtevant Falls tumbles 50 feet into a wide swimming hole, while Hermit Falls features a more intimate cascade surrounded by ferns and moss-covered boulders.
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- Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms - Angeles National Forest Offers Multiple Waterfall Hikes
- Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms - Eaton Canyon Falls - A Quick Escape from Pasadena
- Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms - Solstice Canyon Falls - A Shady Oasis in Malibu
- Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms - Hermit Falls - Adventure Under the Hollywood Sign
- Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms - Escondido Falls - A Secluded Swimming Hole
- Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms - Santa Anita Canyon Falls - Historic Beauty in Arcadia
- Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms - Monrovia Canyon Falls - Family-Friendly and Close to Town
- Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms - Malibu Creek State Park Waterfalls - Where Hollywood Movies Were Filmed
Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms - Eaton Canyon Falls - A Quick Escape from Pasadena
Nestled at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, Eaton Canyon offers hikers a quick escape to nature without leaving the LA metro area. The canyon is located just north of Pasadena off the 210 freeway, making it an easy drive from many parts of the city. With a flowing creek, waterfalls, and pools perfect for swimming, this oasis feels worlds away from the urban sprawl.
The main hike follows the wide, sandy canyon bottom along Eaton Wash. Starting from the nature center, it's a 1.5-mile hike on relatively flat terrain to the base of Eaton Canyon Falls. Families love this trail since even little legs can make it to the rewarding falls at the end. The sound of rushing water gets louder as you approach the canyon narrows. Then suddenly the falls come into view, a 40-foot ribbon of water spilling into a pool surrounded by boulders.
During hot summer months, the pool fills with swimmers looking to cool off. There's no better place to beat the heat than under the mist at the base of Eaton Falls! Just remember to pack your swimsuit. The water is icy cold but refreshing. Be sure to bring proper hiking shoes as the rocks surrounding the pool can be slippery.
While busy on weekends, weekdays are much quieter in Eaton Canyon. Solitude seekers should aim for a sunrise or sunset hike when crowds are minimal. Early mornings are when you're most likely to spot wildlife like mule deer, coyotes, bobcats, and even bears on occasion. In spring, colorful wildflowers blanket the hillsides with California poppies, lupine, and sagebrush.
Beyond the main falls, hardy hikers can continue another 3 miles up to the second and third tiers of Eaton Falls. However, be aware that this upper section of trail may be closed seasonally due to the influence of storms and flooding. Check regulations before planning an extended hike.
Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms - Solstice Canyon Falls - A Shady Oasis in Malibu
Tucked away in the peaceful Santa Monica Mountains, Solstice Canyon offers a shady escape from the Southern California sun. The 2.6-mile roundtrip hike to Solstice Canyon Falls passes through a lush oasis with a refreshing waterfall as its crowning jewel. Unlike busier trails in the LA area, you’ll feel worlds away from the city hustle here.
From the trailhead, the path immediately enters a canopy of greenery. Coast live oaks and sycamores tower overhead, their branches dripping with wild grapes and poison oak. The sound of trickling water rises from Solstice Creek as you venture deeper into the canyon. Wooden bridges help you crisscross the water on its journey down to the sea.
In just half a mile, you’ll reach the Roberts Ranch ruins. These remnants of a historic homestead built in 1865 provide the perfect picnic spot. Kids will love exploring the old foundations and chimneys. Interpretive signs tell tales of the families that once called this canyon home.
Leaving the ruins behind, the trail continues under the shade of white alders, black walnuts, and bay laurels. Thetemperature noticeably drops as you near the falls. Mossy boulders covered in ferns line the path, hinting at the water to come.
Shortly after, you’ll reach a signed junction for the spur trail to Solstice Canyon Falls. This short path switchbacks up to the base of the cascades. Here, Solstice Creek tumbles 50 feet over sandstone cliffs into a round pool surrounded by giant boulders. It’s the perfect place to take a swim and cool off after your hike.
Listen closely and you’ll hear two tiers to the falls. The upper drops are visible through a gap in the canyon walls if you look carefully. Ferns and wildflowers sprout around the falls, fed by the constant moisture. It’s a quintessential Southern California scene.
Spend some time picnicking at the base of the falls and snapping photos. Due to the shady, secluded setting, Solstice Canyon is less crowded than other waterfall hikes in the LA area. Weekdays are quietest if you hope to have the falls to yourself.
Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms - Hermit Falls - Adventure Under the Hollywood Sign
Tucked away in an isolated canyon directly beneath the iconic Hollywood Sign lies one of LA's best-kept secrets: Hermit Falls. This hidden oasis offers a true adventure in the wilderness just minutes from the city. The rugged 2.5-mile trail delivers hikers to a paradise of cascading waterfalls and crystal-clear pools, worlds away from the busy streets above.
As soon as you leave civilization behind and enter Hermit Gulch, you'll feel like you've discovered a remote canyon. The hike immediately descends at a steep grade, dropping 600 feet through chaparral-cloaked cliffs. Following the narrow single track trail down switchbacks etched into the mountainside, hikers must stay nimble on their feet. Trekking poles come in handy for added stability among the crumbling shale.
Several slick wooden bridges traverse the canyon bottom, helping you avoid the pools fed by Hermit Creek. Sturdy shoes with traction are a must to prevent slips on wet rocks. Approach fallen logs across the trail with caution as well.
About a mile down, you'll reach the spur leading to Hermit Falls. This is where the real fun begins! Boulders block the trail, requiring a fair bit of scrambling to proceed. You'll stem up ledges, duck under boulders, and use strategically placed ropes to rappel several small drops. Along the way, miniature cascades and pools offer invigorating refreshment.
Shortly after the rope section, you'll arrive at the final tier of falls. Here Hermit Creek plunges 15 feet into an oval pool fringed by ferns. Moss-draped boulders surround the scene, framing views of the water. It's the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic lunch and take a rejuvenating dip. Soak up the serenity of this hidden grotto. The falls are fairly intimate, so their beauty is best appreciated by small groups.
Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms - Escondido Falls - A Secluded Swimming Hole
Tucked high in the mountains above Malibu, Escondido Falls remains one of the area's best-kept secrets. This 150-foot waterfall pours over granite ledges, cascading into an inviting swimming hole that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of summer.
To reach this hidden oasis, hikers embark on a moderately challenging 6-mile round trip hike. As soon as you leave the parking area, the path begins to climb. Switchbacks wind uphill under a canopy of oak and bay trees, delivering panoramic views over the surrounding canyons and ridges. Listen for the rush of water guiding you towards Escondido Creek.
After 1.75 miles of ascent, you’ll reach the junction for the spur trail down to the falls. This is where the adventure truly begins. The trail plummets 600 vertical feet over the next 0.3 miles, so sure-footedness is key. Sturdy shoes with ample traction will help you navigate over slippery rocks and avoid loose gravel.
Descending via steep switchbacks feels reminiscent of climbing down into the Grand Canyon. The valley walls narrow as you near the bottom, amplifying the roar of water cascading over stone. Dense riparian vegetation closes in, providing welcome shade on hot summer days. Then suddenly, you round the bend and Escondido Falls comes into full view.
Here, the creek tumbles down a granite backdrop in multiple veils before pooling at the bottom. Surrounded by drought-resistant California sycamore and oak trees, the falls transport you to an oasis. The rocky cliffs create a secluded atmosphere. Crowds are rare during the week, allowing you to enjoy this hidden gem in peace.
At the base of the falls, icy water begs to be immersed in. Submerge yourself in the crisp pool, allowing the currents to massage away your aches from the descent. Bask on sunny boulders warmed by the Southern California sun. Spending an afternoon at the falls is the perfect way to unwind.
Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms - Santa Anita Canyon Falls - Historic Beauty in Arcadia
Hidden in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, the hike to Santa Anita Canyon Falls combines natural beauty with a dose of California history. Located in Arcadia just northeast of Pasadena, this scenic trail winds past the century-old Sturtevant Camp before arriving at a pristine 50-foot waterfall.
From the Chantry Flat trailhead, begin hiking downstream along sturdy Santa Anita creek. Lush ferns and moss-blanketed boulders line the banks, hinting at the abundant water to come. Within a quarter mile, you’ll come upon cabins marking your arrival at Sturtevant Camp. Established in 1893, this is one of Southern California’s oldest campgrounds still in operation. Original structures built by pioneer settlers blend with modern amenities like running water and electricity. It’s like stepping back in time!
Continue following the creek’s soothing melody past historic Sturtevant Falls. Cascading 50 feet over granite walls into an oval pool, this is one of the San Gabriel’s most idyllic falls. The backdrop of evergreens juxtaposed with reddish cliff walls makes it picture perfect. Sturtevant gets busy on weekends, so plan to pass through midweek for a more solitary experience.
A mile further up the canyon, prepare for larger crowds at the majestic 50-foot Santa Anita Falls. More powerful than its neighbor Sturtevant, the force of Santa Anita pounding into its expansive basin literally shakes the ground. This is a waterfall you feel as much as see. Gingerly descend the short spur trail to its base, watching your footing on steep, slippery slopes.
While this stunning cascade appears pristine, its setting has a tumultuous history. In 1903, a massive flood caused by heavy rains decimated the area. Logs and debris barreled downstream, obliterating cabins and bridges. Floods continued plaguing the canyon periodically throughout the early 1900s. To provide stability, concrete walls and foundations were added in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Remnants of these stabilizing structures are still visible today.
Flash flooding remains an issue, so always check weather and trail conditions before setting out. Avoid the canyon after heavy rainfall, when rocks become slick and the water gains power. Early fall before rains begin is the ideal time to visit, though winter snow can create exceptional scenery. Whenever you choose to visit, keep kids and dogs safely away from the water, as it moves swiftly.
Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms - Monrovia Canyon Falls - Family-Friendly and Close to Town
For families seeking an easy waterfall hike near Los Angeles, look no further than Monrovia Canyon Falls. Conveniently located at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains, this recreational area offers a kid-friendly trail leading to an enchanting cascade just 30 minutes from downtown LA. The gentle, shady hike along a creek is perfect for little legs.
From the trailhead parking off Highland Place, begin hiking downstream along Monrovia Creek. Lush riparian vegetation immediately surrounds you, providing abundant shade on warm days. The crushed rock path follows the water, making for a cushy stroll suitable for strollers as well as wheelchairs with assistance.
Kids will delight at hopping across stones and peering into pools teeming with tadpoles and small fish. Miniature waterfalls tumble over mossy boulders, hinting at the cascades to come. Your family can play Pooh sticks off the wooden bridges spanning the creek.
After 0.8 easy miles, you'll arrive at the Lower Falls. Here, water sheets 10 feet over granite ledges into a shallow pool perfect for wading. Take a snack break on the sunny boulders before continuing another quarter mile to the better-known Upper Falls.
Monrovia Falls plunges 40 feet over a sandstone amphitheater, sending up misty spray. The wide pool at its base invites swimming on hot days. While weekends draw crowds, weekdays are quieter if you hope to enjoy a peaceful picnic by the falls.
Take the 0.4 mile loop around the cascade while admiring its power and grace from all angles. Unlike many waterfall hikes, the trail here is paved, eliminating tricky footing. Thoughtful railing offers kids secure handholds nearing the water. Leashed dogs are welcome to join the adventure as well.
Ambitious families can continue upstream on the Canyon Trail another 1.5 miles to the ruins of Walker Cabin, a 1930s homestead consumed by floods. Informational signs share tales of the canyon’s past residents and the forces of nature. For a shorter hike, simply turn around at the falls and return the way you came.
Chasing Cascades: 9 Lush Los Angeles Hikes to Gorgeous Waterfalls Flowing After the Storms - Malibu Creek State Park Waterfalls - Where Hollywood Movies Were Filmed
Tucked away in the rugged Santa Monica Mountains lies Malibu Creek State Park, a scenic recreation area with riparian woodlands, grassy meadows, and granite cliffs surrounding the Malibu Creek canyon. While offering beautiful scenery, the park’s main claim to fame is as a popular filming location for Hollywood movies and TV shows. Numerous productions have taken advantage of the diverse landscapes. Most notably, you can visit the site of the original Planet of the Apes film set!
As you embark on the Crags Road hike to Malibu Creek’s iconic waterfalls and pools, keep your eyes peeled for spots that seem oddly familiar. You may recognize rocky outcroppings, cliff walls, or forested glens from appearances on the big screen. M*A*S*H, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Predator are just a few major movies shot within the park over the decades. Thesets may be long gone, but their epic backdrops still shape the scenery today.
One iconic landmark that does remain is the former 20th Century Fox ranch, now part of Malibu Creek State Park. Stroll through what was once the fictional village where the 1968 Planet of the Apes took place. While dilapidated ruins of fake buildings and props are now off-limits for safety reasons, you can still snag photos in front of the iconic curved bridge and log dam wall from an overlook.
Continuing on, you’ll soon reach the main attraction – Malibu Creek’s waterfalls. Here, water cascades over granite walls and into sapphire pools perfect for swimming. On hot summer days, you’ll find locals and visitors alike sunbathing on the rocks and splashing in the crisp cascades. Listen closely and you may hear echoes of big name actors who once relaxed in these same swimming holes between takes.
The tiered waterfalls of Malibu Creek have served as an idyllic refuge for Hollywood's elite for generations. Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan, and Barbara Streisand are just a few A-listers who have retreated here over the decades. due to easy canyon access from nearby Malibu and Hollywood. The falls retain their timeless beauty, though you're now more likely to spot Instagrammers than paparazzi among the boulders.