Don’t go chasing waterfalls, unless it’s the middle of a pandemic and the only way to keep from staring at the same four walls is to go on a hike that ends with a waterfall.
Fortunately for those of us in Los Angeles, there are plenty of options to hike and explore trails that end with a rewarding and refreshing waterfall. Some of the trails and hikes require a reservation and a National Forest Adventure Pass. Some are short and flat. Some follow a more rugged path. All are dog friendly and all provide an afternoon of adventure. Here are some of the more popular waterfall trails in and around Los Angeles County.
Switzer Falls is described as the best-known waterfall hike in Los Angeles County. It ends with a 50-foot waterfall in the San Gabriel Mountains near Tujunga. The hike is 4.5 miles round trip and follows a babbling creek into a wooded canyon.
It is open to hikers, bikers, and dogs. A National Forest Adventure Pass is required to park at the start of the trail. The hike descends 650 feet down from the Switzer Picnic Area to the stream below Switzer Falls. It is approximately a 2 hour, 45-minute hike. The trail is on a road paved in the 1930s. The first part of the trail is shaded and passes resort era ruins. Blackberry bushes are along the trail in the first mile.
Eaton Canyon Falls
The Eaton Canyon Falls are part of the Eaton Canyon Nature Center. Reservations are required to hike to the falls and spend the day at the nature center near Pasadena in the San Gabriel Mountains. The trail ends with a 40-foot waterfall with pools of waist-deep water. The hike is 1.1 miles long on a flat dirt trail to the waterfall. The round-trip hike is 3.5 miles long with a 375-foot elevation change.
The trail is lined with fern leaf Phacelia, chia, and other flowers in the spring. It passes through Henninger Flats with a visitor information center, campground, lookout tower, and a tree nursery operated by the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Millard Falls is in the Angeles National Forest in the San Gabriel Mountains near Altadena. It is a 1.2-mile round trip hike that takes between 45 and 60 minutes.
The terrain is described as more or less flat and ends with a 60-foot waterfall. The trail is a dirt road and the surrounding landscape has been damaged by wildfires over the years. Depending on the amount of rain, the flow of water to the falls changes. There are times when no water flows to the falls. Most times, there is water, but the flow changes depending on the time of year.
Sturtevant Falls is described as one of the finest waterfalls in the Angeles National Forest. It is a 3.3-mile hike from Chantry Flats to Sturtevant Falls and follows a creek and resort era cabins in the San Gabriel Mountains near Arcadia.
The hike takes about an hour and a half to complete. Dogs, hikers, and bikes are welcome.
Solstice Canyon Falls
Solstice Canyon Falls is described as one of the easiest to visit in Los Angeles County. The trail is in the Santa Monica Mountains and ends with a 30-foot waterfall. The hike is about 2 miles round trip on a flat, paved road.
It passes the Keller House and Roberts Ranch House, both old dwellings that were destroyed by fires. The Keller House was a hunting cabin built by Henry Keller. The Roberts Ranch House, also called Tropical Terrace, was designed by architect Paul R. Williams in 1952. It burned down in the Dayton Canyon fire in 1982.
Paradise Falls is in Arroyo Conejo in Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks. The hike leads to a 40-foot waterfall and has a couple of options. One is a 2.15-mile hike in and out. The other is a 2.55-mile loop that passes a cave.
The landscape along the trail is dotted with cactus and sage. The trail follows a creek lined with sycamore and oak trees. There are six picnic areas in shaded areas along the trail. Once hikers arrive at the waterfall, they can choose to hike back out or follow the loop to the Indian Cave.
Swimming and climbing around the waterfall is prohibited. The water is a mixture of natural sources and street runoff.