Go Chasing Waterfalls in Los Angeles

Eaton Canyon Falls   |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa
Eaton Canyon Falls  |  Photo:  Yuri Hasegawa

After the rain comes, LA's waterfalls spring back to life. Take advantage of the mild temps, get out your hiking shoes and experience the cool rush of some of Southern California’s best waterfalls.

Eaton Canyon Falls   |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa
Eaton Canyon Falls  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Eaton Canyon Falls

Located in the 190-acre Eaton Canyon Natural Area, this hike in the San Gabriel Mountains is popular with kids and families with dogs—it’s mostly shaded, flat, and just over a mile in and mile out. At the end you’re rewarded with a 40-foot waterfall, which you’ll hear before you see. Plenty of room to rest on a rock, splash around in the cool mountain water, and have a snack before heading back.

Free parking and the adjacent Nature Center offers activities like the Saturday morning Nature Tails Story Time and Family Nature Walks.

Trailhead: 1750 North Altadena Dr, Pasadena 91107

Escondido Falls in Malibu
Escondido Falls in Malibu | Instagram: @luisz_fotos

Escondido Falls

The 150-foot, three-tiered waterfall at Escondido Canyon Park in Malibu is one of Southern California’s biggest and best. The terrain along the 4-mile hike is mostly flat and well-marked, though it can get steep in a few places if you choose to hike to the top rather than the bottom of the falls. The canyon forest is flush with chaparral (aka “cowboy cologne”) and depending on rainfall the creeks can run high. It’s one of the busier hikes in the region (for good reason), so plan ahead.

Trailhead: 27200 Winding Way, Malibu 90265

Millard Canyon Falls in Altadena
Millard Canyon Falls | Instagram: @sara_in_the_sky

Millard Canyon Falls

One of the more accessible waterfalls on this list, the popular Millard Canyon Falls is about a mile out-and-back from Millard Trail Camp. The family- and dog-friendly hike is relatively flat and takes you through steep canyon walls to a 50-foot waterfall. After heavy rains there will be several water crossings, so prepare to get wet.

Trailhead: 4041 Chaney Trail, Altadena 91001

Monrovia Canyon Falls
Monrovia Canyon Falls | Instagram: @cahikingadventures

Monrovia Falls

It’s a gentle uphill hike for three quarters of a mile through man-made dams, down narrow trails and under old-growth trees until you get to these year-round falls at Monrovia Canyon Park in the San Gabriel Mountains. It’s only 1.5 miles there and back, with nice amenities offered by the City of Monrovia - water fountain, restrooms, and friendly naturalists at the Canyon Park Nature Center. Parking is $5 on weekdays, $6 on weekends. Dogs on leash welcome. NOTE: Monrovia Canyon Park is currently closed due to recent rainstorms.

Trailhead: 1200 N Canyon Blvd, Monrovia 91016

Santa Ynez Falls
Santa Ynez Falls | Instagram: @tunefish100

Santa Ynez Falls

The 2.5-mile round trip hike on the Santa Ynez Waterfall Trail starts at Topanga State Park (no dogs allowed) in the Pacific Palisades. The lush creekside trail is shaded and leads to more of a gorge than full-fledged waterfall - it's beautiful all the same. The Eagle Rock route is longer (9 miles roundtrip) and offers a view of the coastline and valley.

Trailhead: 20829 Entrada Rd., Topanga 90290

Waterfall at Solstice Canyon Trail in Malibu
Waterfall at Solstice Canyon Trail | Photo: @travelkassel, Instagram
Waterfall at Solstice Canyon in Malibu
Waterfall at Solstice Canyon in Malibu | Photo: @ava_sova, Instagram

Solstice Canyon

Don't let the paved road from the parking lot deter you—it opens up to actual trails crossing a stream and leading to a couple sets of stone foundations of homes that burned down long ago. The 30-foot waterfall in Solstice Canyon is just 100 yards up from the Roberts House (aka the "Tropical Terrace"), which ranges from a trickle to a gusher, depending on recent rain. This 3.5-mile hike in the Santa Monica Mountains rewards with an awe-inspiring vista of the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

Trailhead: 3998 Solstice Canyon Rd, Malibu 90265

Sturtevant Falls in the Angeles National Forest
Sturtevant Falls in the Angeles National Forest | Instagram: @cahikingadventures

Sturtevant Falls

Head east toward Sierra Madre and get more falls for your footsteps all in one day. It’s a 3.25-mile hike to Sturtevant Falls starting at Chantry Flat. NOTE: Sturtevant Camp reports that the trail is temporarily closed as of March 2023. AllTrails users report that the Hermit Falls Trail is permanently closed.

Trailhead: Chantry Flat Rd, Arcadia 91006

Upper Switzer Falls
Upper Switzer Falls | Instagram: @tk_hiker
Lower Switzer Falls
Lower Switzer Falls | Instagram: @tk_hiker

Switzer Falls

The two-tier Switzer Falls is just one of the highlights of this moderate 3.5-mile hike along the Gabrielino Trail. Enjoy the beautiful chaparral forest and be sure to check out the ruins of the Switzer Trail Camp, which was part of a network of resorts in the Angeles National Forest. During the rainy season the Arroyo Seco creek swells and there are multiple water crossings, so plan accordingly.

Trailhead: 701 Angeles Crest Hwy., Tujunga 91042