Go chasing waterfalls!
Waterfalls have a kind of magic about them. They’re often hidden away, cascading off cliff edges or bursting through fissures, creating a natural oasis below. Sure, the quest to reach them can sometimes involve an arduous journey of blood (the knee graze), sweat (the California sun), and tears (additional water supply). But as soon as you hear the rushing waterfall in the distance, the excitement takes over and makes the trek just as rewarding as eventually cooling off underneath the water. In fact, even if the water happens to be too icy or restricted in some way, the sound and sight of gushing water is the natural therapy we need right now.
1. Escondido Falls
As you descend into the Santa Monica Mountain valley, you’ll come across some of what nature best has to offer as you stroll along a winding creek. From large inviting oak trees to the plethora of flowers and butterflies that boarder this beautiful trail, be sure to take time to breathe this sliver of L.A. nature in! A trickling waterfall that rolls along a mossy green rock wall is the main sight here, where hikers can snap IG stories in awe as falling water surrounds a small creek breathing life into the surrounding greenery.
27807 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265. See it on Google maps.
2. Paradise Falls
On your way to this relaxing pool of water, you’ll pass a magnificent tipi that stands at the midway point. As you ascend into the canyon, you’ll begin to hear the rushing sounds of the waterfall – it pulls into a pond that eventually runs into a creek. Use stepping stones to cross through a line of cattails below the pool to get the best view of Paradise Falls from the opposing bank so you can truly soak it all in!
After closing earlier this year (due to excessive waste), the trail leading to the waterfall is open again. To keep this open for the public to enjoy, make sure you don’t overstay or leave anything behind when you leave.
928 West Avenida De Los Arboles, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360. See it on Google maps.
3. Sturtevant Falls
Your hike will take around an hour and thirty minutes and starts on a paved road down to quaint little cabins a quaint collection and oak trees covered in ivy. You also have the choice of taking a dirt trail down the mountain and following a pristine creek. There’ll be soothing sounds from the creek accompanying your hike with some rock hopping at a few of the creek crossings to keep things interesting. This 60-foot waterfall is considered one of the most beautiful in the Angeles National Forest and we’re pretty sure you’ll agree once you make it there. Hermit Falls is also a close alternative if you’re up for a real challenge.
Note: The Chantry Flat parking lot is currently only open on weekdays.
Chantry Flat Rd, Arcadia, CA 91006, USA. See it Google maps
4. Trail Canyon Falls
While it’s said to be around a 5-mile hike, it can feel like a lot more in the California heat. It’s a challenging hike with little to shade you on your journey and it involves some serious elevation (around 700 feet of it) to reach the beautiful 30-foot waterfall. You’ll have two options to get down to the bottom of it and one involves a rope. Its Y-shaped fall is pretty all year round but during the summer months, there’s not much water. So if you’re up for it, pack lots of water and head out early mornings or after 4 pm. Otherwise, save it for early Spring.
19600 North Trail Canyon Road, Angeles National Forest, Tujunga, CA. See it on Google maps
5. Black Star Canyon
This elusive waterfall in Black Star Canyon is best seen after some rainfall. Hiking through these parts can be tough but you’ll be rewarded with impressive red rock cliffs, views of Irvine Lake and the Pacific Coast. To get to the falls involves some boulder hopping up the stream which is tricky if it has just rained, but worth it. The unique feature its second outlet or “cave” that is only accessible when there isn’t much water, so there’s a plus if you come during dryer periods. It’s filled with history and unique plant species (there’s poison oak, so proceed with caution).
10499, 10967 Black Star Canyon Rd, Silverado, CA 92676, United States. See it on Google maps.
6. Solstice Canyon Falls
When you’re not up for an entire obstacle course but still want to enjoy the relaxing sounds of flowing water, and a fun place to explore then Solstice Canyon is for you. Take a winding trail (more like a driveway) under the shade of the sycamores, oaks, and alders passing several ruins. This includes the Roberts Ranch House, which is also known as the Tropical Terrace. The house was built in the 1960s and burned down by wildfires in 1982. Leading up to it there’ll be exotic plants, lovely pools, a 30-foot waterfall (if it has rained), and a hidden statue of the Virgin Mary just before you cross the creek.
3455 Solstice Canyon Rd, Malibu, CA 90265, United States. See it on Google maps
7. Hermit Falls
For those looking for the outdoor challenge and a lovely swimming hole as the payoff, you’ll want to wake up really early, pack some supplies and head to Hermit Falls. While the graffiti may put some off this series of clear pools to choose from and large boulders to climb over is a must for thrillseekers—and those looking for an alternative to the beach.
Chantry Flats Road, Angeles National Forest, Arcadia, CA 91006. See it in Google maps.
8. The Grotto
Head to the Santa Monica Mountains and go boulder hopping to get to this waterfall (best visited after rainfall) enveloped by huge rocks. You’ll need to take a 3-mile hike through the canyons and meadows where you’ll get stunning views of the Sandstone Peak. Gloves and good shoes are recommended, it’s also worth a visit in the spring when wildflowers takeover.
12896 Yerba Buena Rd, Malibu, CA 90265, United States. See it Google maps.
9. Heart Rock Falls
It’s plain to see where it gots its name and the scenic hike to this truly unique rock formation is also a quick trail. The drive to get it from L.A., however, is a little long but definitely worth it. This is one spot that’s still worth heading to even if the harsh weather has reduced the cascade to a trickle.
Route 138, San Bernardino National Forest, Crestline, CA 92325. See it on Google maps.
10. Monrovia Falls
One of the best things about Monrovia Falls is that it flows almost year-round. Then, of course, you have the gorgeous hike with a trail that’s mostly shaded by a canopy of trees, sweeping views and deer frolicking through the land. Bears have also been spotted wandering through the woodland.
200 North Canyon Boulevard, Monrovia, CA 91016. See it on Google maps.
Featured Image: @mayajade via Instagram