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11 Must-Try Waterfall Hikes in Los Angeles

11 Must-Try Waterfall Hikes in Los Angeles

By Rebecca T.
February 27, 2021

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe. 

With its parks, valleys, canyons, and preserves, Los Angeles boasts plenty of awesome hiking trails that lead to rewarding panoramas. So, when the temperature starts rising again, you know it’s time to discover the great outdoors.

Spring is the season when even the tamest of waterfalls transform into cascading showstoppers. While every trail has its unique features, all waterfall hikes in L.A. have one thing in common—unbeatable views of terrific cascades.

As much as we love city and beach views, that there’s something extra magical about hiking trails with waterfalls in Los Angeles—especially after huffing and puffing under the scorching SoCal sun. These waterfall hikes in L.A. will satisfy your wanderlust and are perfect for all skill levels. 

The best waterfall trails in Los Angeles

The breathtaking Trail Canyon Falls is a sight to behold. Photo courtesy of AllTrails.

Trail Canyon Falls

Location: Angeles National Forest, Sunland-Tujunga

Level of difficulty: Moderate 

Distance: 4.8 miles

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: On leash

Water crossings, boulders, beautiful views, and a breathtaking California waterfall—what more could you want in a hike? This moderately rated, out-and-back waterfall hike in Los Angeles gives you the chance to explore a secluded and quiet canyon with steep descents and gorgeous greenery.

If your favorite hiking companion is your four-legged friend, we have great news—hiking the Trail Canyon Falls with your leashed dog is possible year-round.

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Santa Ynez Canyon Waterfall Trail

Location: Topanga State Park, Pacific Palisades

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.2 miles

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: No

Primarily used for hiking, running, nature trips, and bird watching, this Santa Ynez Falls hike is a must-do in Los Angeles. Tackling this hike is a piece of cake—it’s short, sweet, and shaded for the majority of the route.

The most challenging part of this trail comes at the very end when you have to climb a few rocks to reach the falls. Otherwise, if you have your sturdy hiking shoes on, you’ll have a great time traversing the Santa Ynez Canyon Waterfall Trail.

As the most popular attraction in the Angeles National Forest, Switzer Falls never ceases to astonish hikers.

Switzer Falls Via Gabrielino Trail

Location: 701 Angeles Crest Highway, Angeles National Forest, Tujunga

Level of difficulty: Moderate 

Distance: 3.6 miles

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: On leash

If you want to see a waterfall but don’t have the time and energy for a lengthy hike, then the Switzer Falls hike in Los Angeles is the perfect fit for you. This is a relatively easy hike into one of the most scenic sections of the San Gabriel Mountains.

You’ll snake through an oak and alder-lined path, walk above the 50-foot Switzer Falls, and return back to the base of the stream. Looking to turn your waterfall hike in L.A. into a weekend-long adventure? Consider staying at one of the camping spots in the Angeles National Forest—one of the most stunning places to camp in L.A.

Temescal Canyon Trail

Location: 15601 Sunset Boulevard, Topanga State Park, Pacific Palisades

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 2.9 miles

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: No

Ever wanted to go on a hike in L.A. with waterfall, city, and ocean views? You’re in for a treat. The Temescal Canyon Trail is as scenic as a hike could be, delivering all that and more. You’ll be surrounded by vistas of Malibu, Santa Monica, and DTLA all throughout. Your waterfall hike in Los Angeles ends with descending a shaded, but narrow, path right near the falls.

For those looking for a scenic hike, the Rustic Canyon Loop Trail offers the best experience.

Hidden Waterfall Via Rustic Canyon Loop Trail

Location: Topanga State Park, Pacific Palisades

Level of difficulty: Hard

Distance: 4.5 miles

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: No

The hidden waterfall along the Rustic Canyon Trail is one even TLC won’t stop you from chasing, but it does come with a few fair warnings. This waterfall hike in Los Angeles is rated difficult for a good reason. The path isn’t paved all the way and features several steep elevations and descents.

If the sound of all this excites you more than it scares you, you’re in for a treat. Those who manage to defy the odds to the end of the trail are rewarded with stunning views of the cascading waterfalls—a hidden gem in every sense.

Waterfalls near Los Angeles that you can hike to 

Feast your eyes on the 40-foot waterfall tumbling into a wide pool.

Eaton Canyon Falls Trail

Location: Eaton Canyon Natural Area Park, Pasadena

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 3.5 miles

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: On leash

Eaton Canyon Falls is a relatively easy hike leading to a majestic 40-foot waterfall with the San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains serving as a backdrop. However, if you like to traverse your trails without other people in sight, this might not be your cup of tea. No matter when you decide to visit, there is a good chance you won't be alone on this L.A. waterfall hike.

The trail is wildly popular with families, slow strollers, and people walking their dogs. But if you’re prepared to share the stunning sight with others, the Eaton Canyon Falls Trail is a great pick for a quick and easy hike.

Pro tip: Get a timed entry reservation in advance to avoid getting ticketed when hiking here.

Escondido Falls Trail

Location: Escondido Canyon Park, Malibu

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 3.7 miles

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: On leash

Of all the hiking trails with waterfalls in Los Angeles, Escondido Falls Trail is one of the most popular because it's shaded, easy, and very scenic. The first mile or so consists of a paved road with luxurious Malibu mansions, but the route becomes more rustic when you reach the dirt road marked “Edward Albert Escondido Canyon Trail and Waterfall.” Though the hike itself is pretty easy, you can push yourself further by heading to the top pool for stunning views of the park.

Take the short and picturesque hike to Millard Falls to enjoy this ideal picnic spot.

Millard Canyon Falls Trail

Location: Angeles National Forest, Altadena

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 2.5 miles

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: Yes

Put on your waterproof shoes if you’re hiking to Millard Falls—the trail can get pretty slippery, especially after rainfall. Running alongside a creek—with occasional crossings—this waterfall hike in Los Angeles is pretty effortless and boasts scenic views that are hard to beat. When hiking here, you’ll be sharing the trail with mountain bikers, dog walkers, and families enjoying the great outdoors with their little ones.

Solstice Canyon Falls Loop

Location: Solstice Canyon Road, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Malibu

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.2 miles

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: On leash

Winding its way past the ruins of Malibu mansions, this waterfall hike in Los Angeles feels more like a leisurely stroll—perfect for those who hike for bragging rights more than exercise.

The Solstice Canyon Falls Trail is an incredibly picturesque, mostly shaded hike in the Santa Monica Mountains. The well-maintained route and spur-trails offer adventurous travelers the opportunity to explore more of the region's hidden treasures.

Who would've known that this oasis was only a short hike away? Photo courtesy of AllTrails.

Paradise Falls Via Mesa, Teepee, and Moonridge Trails

Location: Wildwood Regional Park, Thousand Oaks

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 2.7 miles

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: On leash

Paradise Falls is one of few waterfalls near Los Angeles which flows abundantly nearly year-round. Numerous routes lead you to the falls, but signs along the way make the waterfall very easy to find.

As tempting as it may be, diving into this little lake is not a great idea due to the highly contaminated water. The rest of the loop offers an easy stroll along the banks of Indian Creek with a number of lovely picnic spots—making it a great family-friendly hike to experience on a weekend.

A perfectly heart-shaped hole is the highlight of this easy hike. Photo courtesy of AllTrails.

Heart Rock Trail

Location: San Bernardino National Forest, Cedarpines Park

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.7 miles

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: On leash

The hike to this waterfall near Los Angeles is not only easy, but it also provides an awesome photo op—a heart-shaped natural hole in the rock that’s almost bigger than the waterfall next to it. The striking vistas, cascading waters, and Instagrammable photo ops are incredible, but the waterfall can sometimes be more of a trickle depending on when you go. Overall, the easy trail and beautifully unique views make the hour-long drive from L.A. well worth it.

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