Eaton Canyon Falls Trail: Waterfall Hike in LA

Southern California may not have year-round, roaring waterfalls that central and Northern California have. But it has its own seasonal wonders. And one of the urban waterfalls, worthy of mention, is Eaton Canyon Falls in the LA area.

Last updated: April 26, 2024

Hiking to Eaton Canyon Falls | Roads and Destinations
Eaton Canyon Falls Trail | Waterfall Hike in Los Angeles

Hiking to Eaton Canyon Falls in the Greater Los Angeles Area

A few things define Los Angeles: the Hollywood Sign, Universal Studios, Beverly Hills, Hollywood Boulevard… and hiking. By virtue of its celebrity status and the pressure of leading a healthy lifestyle, the city has become the epitome of health, vitality, youth, and beauty. Its residents, young and old, put on hiking shoes and head out of the door to get their hearts pumping most days of the year.

Hiking is easily one of the most popular things to do in Los Angeles. Needless to say, the city’s location accommodates such needs and demands. But if you want to experience something not quite typical for Southern California during your hiking session, head over to Pasadena, a neighboring city northeast of downtown LA to see Eaton Canyon Falls.

Eaton Canyon Falls Trail

  • Distance: 3.5 miles, round trip
  • Elevation gain: 445 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Time: 2 – 2.5 hours to complete
  • Trailhead: Within Eaton Canyon Natural Area Park, Pasadena
  • Waterfall: 40 feet high

The relatively easy Eaton Canyon Falls hike starts at Eaton Canyon Natural Area and Nature Center, located just off Altadena Drive. The 3.5-mile waterfall trail gets LOTS of attention from beginner and experienced hikers. It’s certainly not one of LA’s crowd-free hikes.

On the other hand, not many visitors hike to this elusive jewel. Tucked away in the stunning San Gabriel Mountains, the waterfall hike is mostly the privilege of the locals.

Eaton Canyon Falls Hike | Roads and Destinations
The easy section of the trail

Hiking Eaton Canyon Falls Trail

A beautiful outdoor adventure for LA’s families with kids, the Eaton Canyon Falls Trail consists of two completely different sections. The first, a little bit longer, runs through the flat area, exposed to the sun. The path is wide, unpaved, and has little to no shade.

Hiking here is easy. The trail suits both beginner and advanced hikers. You will see many dog walkers and families with strollers leisurely strolling along the wide section of the path until the trail veers into the woods.

TIP: Make sure to stock up on water, sunscreen, and head cover. This section of the Eaton Canyon Falls Trail has no shade.

Mt. Wilson Toll Road Bridge | Roads and Destinations
Mount Wilson Toll Road Bridge

Into the Woods

Once you reach the Mount Wilson Toll Road Bridge, the hiking gains new momentum and becomes more interesting. Trees that now grow closer to each other (so that it creates an illusion that you walk into a huge, natural cave) provide more than enough shade to escape the scorching Southern California heat.

Small rocks and middle-sized boulders fill the previously flat path. This section of the trail demands more jumping and climbing and is not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs.

The Best Time to Hike to Eaton Canyon Falls

Yet a pair of water-proof shoes may come in handy here, especially if you hike to Eaton Canyon Falls in spring or early summer. After a rainy winter, the waterfall often floods a good portion of the trail. The rest of the year the area is pretty dry, and the waterfall is just a trickle.

Eaton Canyon Falls Hike | Roads and Destinations
Waterfall hike in Los Angeles

The End of the Hike: Waterfall

For the majority of the hikers, the adventure ends at the bottom of the 40-foot-high waterfall. A few nature lovers continue on to Upper Eaton Canyon Falls. The trail gets even more challenging and may not suit everybody at this point.  

At the first waterfall, a small crowd might have already gathered by the time you arrive. While some people test the water with their feet, others do not shy away from swimming in the ice-cold pool. Spend as much time as you need here, enjoying the mist from the waterfall and the coolness of the wood before heading back to the trailhead the same way you came.

Eaton Canyon Falls Hike | Roads and Destinations
Rocks and boulders on the second part of the trail
Waterfall hike in Los Angeles | Roads and Destinations
Favorite waterfall hike in Los Angeles

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