Waterfall Hikes Outside of Los Angeles to Take Your Breath Away

Written by: Jodilyn Ottobre and Alana Aronson

Escape the madness of the city by sneaking off for a local retreat. The recreational activities that lie outside of Los Angeles are what make Southern California a great place to live. Drive a mere 1-2 hours and you’re on a windy road through glorious mountains and countless trees. What’s more to love are the swim holes and waterfalls that are a few short and easy miles off the road. Instead of having a typical beach day this weekend, go take a hike and get your feet wet at the base of one of these inviting waterfalls.  waterfall hikes

Our 8 favorite waterfall hikes will be crowded on the weekends and the parking areas will fill up fast, so we recommend you get an early start on your day. Pack your hiking shoes, sunscreen, plenty of water, snacks and a towel, and make sure you pack out everything you bring in. Let’s keep it clean people!  waterfall hikes

Know before you go: Check to see if an Adventure Pass is required for parking and make sure you do some research before you head up, as some locations may have low water levels or could be dried up because of the drought.

Escondido Falls

This waterfall wonderland has two different tiers for hiking and viewing pleasure: an easy-to-reach 50-foot one, and a 150-foot, more rigorously adventure. Make sure to plan accordingly, and wear gear that accounts for slippery slopes. This location is bike and dog friendly—and free. Be aware of “No Parking” signs, though!

Location: Malibu
Distance: 3.8 miles roundtrip
Level of difficulty: Moderate

 

Solstice Canyon

Solstice Canyon offers a family-friendly atmosphere, open to hikers of all levels. With wide, level trails and historical ruins next to the waterfall, this is a hike to be enjoyed by all. This location is hiker and dog friendly, and while it is free to park, expect crowded lots on the weekends. Look out for the Virgin Mary statue on the way to the falls.

Location: Malibu
Distance: 2.6 – 3.4 miles
Level of difficulty: Easy

 

Monrovia Falls

The Falls Trail begins at the picnic area behind the Monrovia Falls Nature Center. A serene and lovely waterfall awaits after roughly .8 miles of hiking. This park has no entrance fee and is hiker and dog friendly.

Location: San Gabriel Mountains, Falls Trail
Distance: 1.6 miles roundtrip
Level of difficulty: Easy/Moderate

 

Paradise Falls

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Paradise Falls is located in Wildwood Regional Park, where Highway 101 meets Route 23. Take the Moonridge Trailhead to access the 40 foot falls, which is located in the southeast corner of the Wildwood parking lot. This hike is dog, child and mountain bike friendly. Adventure Pass required.

Location: Thousand Oaks
Distance: 3 mile loop
Level of difficulty: Easy
 

Big Falls

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This 500 foot waterfall can be found up Route 38 in a small town called Forest Falls. Turn off Valley of the Falls Drive and you’ll see the Big Falls parking lot at the end of the road, right after you pass Forest Falls. You’ll have to cross two small streams to reach the falls, so wear appropriate footwear and cross with caution. This hike is dog and child friendly. Adventure Pass required.

Location: San Bernardino Mountains
Distance: Less than 1 mile
Level of difficulty: Easy

Eaton Canyon Falls

 

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This 40 foot waterfall is located off the 210 freeway by exiting of Altadena Boulevard. Park at the Eaton Canyon Natural Area (gates open at 7:30am) and head north on the Eaton Trail. Stay to the left of the trail when you reach the 3 way junction, and make sure you are entering down into the canyon to reach the base of the waterfall. Angeles National Forest is strongly advising not to hike up or climb to the upper falls, as many injuries and even deaths have occurred due to the cliff’s high danger levels. This hike is dog friendly, but due to rocky washes and stream crossings, younger children are not recommended. Free to park.

Location: Pasadena
Distance: 3 miles roundtrip
Level of difficulty: Easy

 

Sturtevant Falls

 

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Exit Santa Anita Ave off the 210 freeway and drive north until it turns into Chantry Flats Road. Parking is located at the end of Chantry Flats. The trail begins across the road from the parking lot, where a paved path descends into the canyon. This 50 foot waterfall hike is dog and child friendly. Adventure Pass required.

Location: San Gabriel Mountains
Distance: 3.7 miles roundtrip
Level of difficulty: Easy

 

Switzer Falls

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Take the 2 East (Angels Crest Highway) and turn onto the Switzer Truck Trail, which will lead you the parking lot of the Switzer Picnic Area. Head to the southwest end of the parking lot and cross the trail’s footbridge. Eventually you will meet an unmarked fork in the road, where you will go right until you reach the bottom of Switzer’s 50 foot falls. This trail is dog and child friendly, but since there are some rocky areas and stream crossings, we’re going to recommended this hike for older children and high endurance dogs. Adventure Pass required.

Location: Angeles National Forest
Distance: 5 miles roundtrip
Level of difficulty: Moderate