Eaton Canyon is a nice shady canyon with a well-marked trail that leads to a 40-foot waterfall.
The fall is active year-round, but you will enjoy a better view in the spring months. You can find this hidden gem in the San Gabriel Mountains close to Pasadena and Arcadia, California.
The trail itself is considered an easy trail due to distance and elevation gain, but it does have some difficult areas that make this hike a little more adventurous. Expect to climb some steep inclines, go rock hopping and cross the stream several times before you reach the beautiful waterfall.
Local Tip: What makes this hike more exciting also makes it more dangerous. If you are not careful you can slip on the loose gravel or slide on the slipery rocks. Waterproof hiking shoes are recommended.
Most hikers start from the Eaton Canyon nature center where parking is abundant and free.
Local Tip: If the main parking lot is full, take a small side road to a dirt overflow parking area.
The round trip from the nature center is around 4 miles. It can take between 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours depending on your speed and breaks. We like to enjoy nature and take a lot of pictures, so the trip up the trail was slower than the return trip.
If you prefer a shorter hike to the falls you can enter from the Pinecrest gate which is further up Altadena drive.
The distance from this gate to the falls is around .4 mile. If you do this shorter hike, you will miss out on the wildflowers, and the creek crossing.
Local tip: There are no bathrooms along the trail. Good facilities are available inside the nature center at the trailhead.
The first part of the hike is a wide and long dirt road that parallels a rocky wash that is dry most of the year. Once you cross the wash stay to the left on the main trail.
Soon you will come up to a fork in the road. There is a small sign indicating the waterfall trail to the left. If you ignore the sign and go to the right you will end up on a longer and more difficult trail that will eventually take you to Mount Wilson.
At the next junction, go left again under the big concrete bridge. This will take you to the main Eaton Canyon trail. From this point on you will be hiking under shady trees and enjoying the sights and sounds of the stream.
Local tip: Watch out for many small side trails that might confuse you and send you away from the fall trail. You can use some of those side trails to get closer to the stream, but always remember to go back to the main trail.
At the end of this trail (around the 1.9-mile point) you will see the waterfall cascading into a small shallow pool. You can wade into the pool to get closer to the fall, but be warned, it is icy cold water.
You can grab a rock to sit and enjoy the view and maybe eat a snack.
Local tip: This is a very popular hike. On weekends expect to see a lot of people along the way and especially at the fall. For a better experience, try to make this hike during the week. If you have to go on the weekend, go very early.
The pool under the waterfall is deep enough to have a refreshing swim. But the water is very cold. Be ready with a change of clothes and a towel.
Local tip: As you are enjoying the waterfall view you might see some hikers at the top of the fall. Be warned that there is no easy way to get to the top. There is a narrow and dangerous trail that goes to the top, but it is very risky. A lot of people are injured while attempting this side trail.
Eaton Canyon Trail1750 N Altadena Dr Pasadena, CA 91107
or2266 Pinecrest Dr Altadena Ca Phone:(626) 398-5420
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