Escondido Falls trail is a moderately challenging hike, adorned with trees, a meandering creek, and a rewarding view at the end. The falls, when flowing, present a breathtaking spectacle.
The Waterfall: The lower tier of the waterfall is easily accessible and stands at 50 feet. For those seeking a bit more adventure, the upper tier, at a majestic 150 feet, offers stunning views but is more challenging to reach.
Hike Details: Prepare for a 3.8-mile hike to the base of the falls, which includes an elevation gain of about 400 feet. The trail is predominantly shaded and follows a creek, requiring multiple creek crossings. Some of these crossings can be tricky, adding a bit of excitement to the journey.
Trailhead and Parking: The trailhead is located at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and Winding Way. Parking is available in a small lot. As of 2022, the parking fee is $12, payable via cash or credit at a new pay station. If the machine is out of order, use the iron post nearby to pay with checks or cash in an envelope, and display the receipt on your dashboard. Be mindful of parking regulations; rangers actively ticket violators.
Starting the Hike: From the parking area, the initial stretch is a .75-mile walk on a paved road, passing impressive Malibu homes. This takes about 15 minutes.
Entering the Trail: The actual hiking trail begins beside a sign marked “Edward Albert Escondido Canyon Trail and Waterfall.” The path descends through a field of fennel and mustard, leading to a creek. After crossing the creek, turn left to head upstream into Escondido Canyon. Remember this intersection for your return journey.
Trail Experience: The trail then widens and remains relatively level, meandering through trees and fields. In spring, wildflowers add vibrant colors to the landscape, and the waterfall tends to be more active.
Upper Falls Adventure: For the adventurous, a challenging trail to the right of the lower falls leads to the upper falls. This path is steep and requires careful navigation, often using roots for support. The reward is the mesmerizing Upper Escondido Falls, where water cascades over a moss-covered wall into a serene pool below.
Return Journey: Retrace your steps to return to the parking area. Keep an eye out for familiar landmarks to avoid missing turns.
I inadvertently took a wrong turn during my first visit, leading to a completely different street. This minor detour added an extra mile to my hike and necessitated an Uber ride to return to my parked car.
Additional Tips for Hikers:
- Wear appropriate footwear: The trail can be rocky and uneven, especially near the creek crossings.
- Bring water and snacks: There are no facilities along the trail.
- Check the weather: The waterfall is seasonal and best viewed after recent rains.
- Respect the environment: Stay on marked trails to protect the local flora and fauna.
- Start early: The trail can get crowded, especially on weekends.
Enjoy your hike at Escondido Falls, a hidden gem in Malibu that offers a delightful escape into nature's beauty.