Sturtevant Falls by Jason Hickey t

Living in Southern California’s major cities, you wouldn’t think about rivers, creeks, and waterfalls, but the Southland is dotted with such natural wonders.

Of course, we will never rival places like Niagara, Yosemite, or Oregon's Columbia Gorge, but if you want to see beautiful cascading waters, you don’t need to drive far.

The Los Angeles metropolitan area is bordered to the north by the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains, with smaller ranges running through the basin. 

Those ranges provide plenty of snow-covered peaks, rivers and streams, hiking trails, and shady valleys with waterfalls. 

In the following pages, I will take you on some of the most popular waterfall hikes.

Sturtevant Falls

turtevant FallsSturtevant Falls Hiking Trail is located in the foothills above Arcadia and Pasadena in the heart of the Angeles National Forest.  This is only one of many hikes available in the Chantry Flats area, but it is my favorite hike because of the reward at the end of the hike – the waterfall. Read more here Sturtevant Falls

Eaton Canyon Waterfall

nullEaton 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. Read more here Eaton Canyon Waterfall

Millard Canyon Falls

Millard Falls - AltadenaThe area above Pasadena is full of canyons and waterfalls, and Millard Canyon offers a quick route to a nicely flowing waterfall.

Depending on where you park, you can choose between a 4-mile hike or a 2.5-mile hike.

The trail meanders along a creek, and you must cross the stream multiple times along the way. 

There is also some rock scrambling, so it is unsuitable for the elderly or little children. 

Older kids (5 and up) love crossing the stream or walking through it. Read more here Millard Canyon Falls

Monrovia Falls

nullCanyon Park is another hidden gem in Southern California where you can enjoy nature, have a picnic, or go on a hike to a waterfall. Canyon Park is situated at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and is operated by the city of Monrovia.

For my family, the best feature of the park is the hike to the year-round Monrovia Falls. There are 3 different trailheads for this hike. You can start from near the entrance gate for a 1.7-mile moderate hike (one way). Read more here Monrovia Falls

Paradise Falls

Paradise Falls, caAt the end of August in Southern California, you don’t expect to find running water and a beautiful cascading waterfall – but that is exactly what we found during our hike through Wildwood Regional Park in Thousand Oaks, California.

Our surprising waterfall was hidden within a deep valley at the park – near Avenida De Los Arboles and North Big Sky Drive intersection. Free parking is available off West Avenida De Los Arboles.

The park has many trails to choose from. Some of them are dirt access road – mainly used by bikers, and others are foot trails of varying difficulty. Read more here Paradise Falls

Escondido Falls

Escondido Falls trail is a moderate hike with trees, a creek, and a nice reward at the end. When the falls are flowing, they are beautiful. 

The waterfall has an easy-to-reach lower tier that is 50 feet tall and a harder-to-reach upper tier that’s 150 feet tall and stunning.

Expect to hike for 3.8 miles to the base of the falls with about a 400-foot elevation gain. Most of the trail is shaded and runs along a creek. Expect to cross the creek several times – some crossings are precarious – but this is part of the fun. Read more here Escondido Falls

San Antonio Falls

nullThe San Antonio Falls are a good destination by themselves. There is running water year-round cascading down a 400 ft cliff, but most people only see the lower part of this waterfall. We intended to explore all 4 sections of the falls.

Our guides, Ian and Kyle, started the trip by giving us detailed safety instructions and explained the equipment we will be using. Most notable safety tips: Bring lots of water, wear sunscreen, pay attention to guide instructions, watch out for rattlesnakes, wear clothes and shoes that can get wet. Read more here San Antonio Falls

Switzer Falls

Switzer Falls California - at the poolWalking through this gully in the San Gabriel Mountains, it is hard to believe I am still in drought-stricken Southern California.  

Right from the start of this hike to Switzer Falls, I can hear the sounds of running water and birds declaring their contentment with this hidden nature enclave.

The trail starts from the Switzer picnic area in the Angeles National Forest and is about half an hour's drive from downtown Los Angeles. Read more here Switzer Falls

Further away

For even more stunning waterfalls, head to Yosemite National Park and visit majestic falls like Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls, Bridalveil Fall, and Nevada Fall.