Go chasing waterfalls — check out these LA hikes

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Escondido Falls is at Escondido Canyon Park. Photo by Cris Hazzard.

Waterfalls don’t leap to mind when one thinks of drought-stricken Los Angeles. But thanks to record rain and snow, local ones are flowing up in the hills and mountains. While right after a heavy storm may not be the ideal, or safest, time to hit the trails, the coming months should provide ample opportunity to explore them. 

Cris Hazzard, founder of the blog hikingguy.com, shares some of the season’s best hikes featuring waterfalls. Trail conditions may be affected by the recent storms, so he advises checking each park’s website and/or social media accounts before you visit.

Escondido Falls (Malibu)

Escondido Falls is at Escondido Canyon Park. Photo by Cris Hazzard. 

Length: 3.7 miles roundtrip

Difficulty level: Easy 

Hazzard says one of the most popular waterfall trails is Escondido Falls at Escondido Canyon Park. It’s relatively easy and dog-friendly, but make sure to pack the leash. Access the trail from the parking lot at Winding Way along Pacific Coast Highway. 

“The waterfall is really unique. It's about 150 feet, and it comes down this limestone mossy cliff so it doesn't look like a waterfall-waterfall. It almost looks like a waterfall coming down with a green beard. It's pretty cool.”

Millard Canyon Falls (Altadena) 

Millard Canyon Falls is in the San Gabriel Mountains. Photo by Shutterstock.

Length: 2.8 miles

Difficulty level: Easy

Another easy and family friendly waterfall is Millard Canyon Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains. It is dog-friendly (leashed). A U.S. National Parks pass or adventure pass is required to access the trail.

“I've seen little kids on that [trail]. That's less than a mile from the parking area to get to. Right now, it's probably flowing. It's a cool canyon because it stays shaded for most of the year. So it becomes one of the most biologically diverse areas of salamanders, and all kinds of cool things there. You'll see artists doing oil paintings there.”

Eaton Canyon Falls (Altadena) 

Eaton Canyon Falls is at Angeles National Forest. Photo by Shutterstock.

Length: Approximately 4 miles

Difficulty level: Easy

One of the most popular hikes in LA is the trail to Eaton Canyon Falls inside of Angeles National Forest. The trail is dog-friendly, but furry friends must be leashed. Access to the trail starts at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center in Pasadena. For the best experience, Hazzard recommends going there on a weekday morning, if possible, to avoid crowds. 

“You start in an LA County Park ... and it feels like a county park. But after walking a little bit, you actually enter Angeles National Forest. And then you feel like you're in the foothills, like really steep hills, dramatic landscape. And then there's the Eaton Canyon Falls, which are beautiful as well.”

Switzer Falls (Tujunga)

Switzer Falls is near Tujunga. Photo by Shutterstock.

Length: Approximately 4 miles

Difficulty level: Moderate

Switzer Falls lies north of Millard Falls near Tujunga. It is a popular trail and is dog-friendly. Be aware of crowds. Access to the trail starts at the Switzer Picnic Area. A U.S. National Parks pass or adventure pass is required to hike the trail.

That's probably the granddaddy of all the waterfalls here in Southern California. … In the 1880s … when hiking was a big thing, there was actually a resort there. When I say resort, you're probably picturing a big Hawaii resort. This was like a little cabin. … And there's [a] foundation, but there's also the old stoves that are probably, maybe 100 years old. … And there's Switzer Falls, which is another dramatic, beautiful waterfall here.”