Cooper Canyon Falls San Gabriel Mountains Trail Angeles National Forest Waterfall Hike Buckhorn Campground hiking

Cooper Canyon offers a relaxing summer waterfall for those staying overnight at Buckhorn Campground or venturing into the Angeles National Forest for a get-away day hike. The three-mile round-trip trek descends 700 feet into a mountain canyon through an enchanting old-growth forest to reach a small waterfall.

Those tenting at Buckhorn Campground should feel compelled to experience this trail. For other visitors, drive into the campground and follow signs for the day-use parking. Pick up Buckhart Trail and the north end of the lot and begins down the west side of Buckhorn Canyon. The single track passes through a mixed forest of pines, alders, and oaks. To the right, several footpaths lead down to a small creek. The last such sidetrack drops to an overlook that peers down on a tall slender waterfall. Be careful as you travel on and off the trail; your safety is your responsibility.

Cooper Canyon
A view down Buckhorn Canyon

Stay on the main trail to reach Cooper Canyon Falls. The forest gives way to wide views of Cooper Canyon and Pleasant View Ridge as the trail curves left around a rock wall and descends a gravel slope. On the return, this will be the toughest part of the hike.

The trail turns east down Upper Little Rock Creek, passing through a pacifying glen of pines and ferns. If the falls weren’t so close ahead, this would be a great place to stop and relax, exploring the trees and creek.

Cross over the creek flowing down Buckhorn Canyon and continue to a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. Turn right, away from the Cooper Canyon Trail Campground, and travel east a short distance further. Pay attention to the left side of the trail to spot where Upper Little Rock Creek tumbles over the falls. A pair of paths break off down the steep slope to the creek. This is the way to the waterfall. Descend carefully. There is a rope tied to a tree near the bottom to help hikers lower themselves the final ten feet.

Below the falls there are rocks to relax on and a pool to wade in. Small trout swim in the calm knee-high water. Cooper Canyon Falls is little more than thirty feet tall so it will not impress you with its grandeur. Instead, it will seduce you with its serenity.

Cooper Canyon
Cooper Canyon Falls

To return, follow the trail back up the 700 feet of elevation to Buckhorn Campground. The start of this trail is at 6.400 feet and should be free of snow by the end of March. This is a good area to visit in the summer months. When lower elevation waterfalls loose their muster, Cooper Canyon Falls still has a strong flow.

If you are staying at Buckhorn and would like to hike uphill to vast views instead of downhill to the waterfall, consider the trail to Mount Waterman, which starts across the Angeles Crest Highway from the campground.

To get to the trailhead: From the 210 Freeway in La Cañada Flintridge, head northeast on Angeles Crest Highway (CA 2) for 35 miles. Pass the Mount Waterman Ski Area and turn left into Buckhorn Campground. Drive through the campground for 0.4 miles following signs for the day-use area. Be sure to display an adventure pass before starting down the Buckhart Trail.

Trailhead address: Angeles Crest Highway, Angeles National Forest, Pearblossom, CA 93553
Trailhead coordinates: 34.34333, -117.921196

Use the map below to create your own directions:

View Los Angeles Hikes in a larger map
Photos

Cooper Canyon  Cooper Canyon  Cooper Canyon  Cooper Canyon  Cooper Canyon  Cooper Canyon  Cooper Canyon  Cooper Canyon  Cooper Canyon  Cooper Canyon  Cooper Canyon  Cooper Canyon  Cooper Canyon

These photos were taken in June of 2009, prior to the Station Fire, which closed the trail for a year and a half. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Mount WatermanMount Waterman
This 5.5-mile hike methodically ascends 1,300 feet, passing through a pine forest to reach a round summit with big views.
Winston Ridge and Winston PeakWinston Ridge and Winston Peak
This 4.85-mile partial loop bags a summit and a scenic ridge in the high San Gabriel Mountains.
Mount HillyerMount Hillyer
This 6,215-foot summit can be reach from two trailheads for a 3 to 6.25-mile hike gaining between 575 and 1,000 feet.
Vetter Mountain hikeVetter Mountain
This 3.8 or 4.4-mile hike ascends from Charlton Flats Picnic Area to Vetter Mountain, where there are exceptional 360-degree view from the site of an old fire lookout tower.
Mount Baden Powell hikeMount Baden-Powell
This 8.25-mile round trip hike ascends 2,834 feet to one of the tallest summits in the San Gabriel Mountains and a monument to Lord Baden-Powell, a BSA icon and the founder of the Scout Movement.
Angeles hikeMore trails in the San Gabriel Mountains
Explore other destinations in the range.
Similar Trails
fish canyon hikeFish Canyon Falls
This 4-mile hike starts at a rock quarry with restricted access and ends up at a multi-tiered 80-foot waterfall.
Eaton Falls Angeles hikeEaton Canyon Falls
This 3.5-mile hike goes up Eaton Wash to a narrow stretch of Eaton Canyon containing a pleasant 40-foot waterfall.
Trail Canyon Falls angeles hikeTrail Canyon Falls
This 4-mile hike visits a 40-foot beauty on the east side of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Santa Ynez Falls hikeSanta Ynez Falls
This 2.5-mile follows a shaded creek to a gorge containing a short waterfall.
Escondido Falls hikeEscondido Falls
This 3.8-mile out and back hike visits a 200 foot waterfall that is split into two tiers. The upper tier is 150 feet tall and stunning after a rainstorm.
los angeles waterfallMore waterfalls around Los Angeles
Explore other waterfalls in the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains.
Camping
buckhorn campgroundBuckhorn Campground
This 38-site campground is an hour drive up the Angeles Crest Highway from LA and a great weekend spot for summer tent camping.
Horse Flats CampHorse Flats Campground
This 25-site campground in the Angeles National Forest in the San Gabriel Mountains offers first-come first-serve equestrian-friendly sites.
Horse Flats CampCoulter Group Campground
This single-site campground accommodates up to 50 people per night, offering fresh mountain air and sweeping views at 5,300 feet.
Cooper Canyon Trail Cooper Canyon Trail Cooper Canyon Trail Cooper Canyon Trail Cooper Canyon Trail Cooper Canyon Trail Cooper Canyon Trail Cooper Canyon Trail Cooper Canyon Trail Cooper Canyon Trail Cooper Canyon Trail Cooper Canyon Trail Cooper Canyon Trail

5 Comments on Cooper Canyon Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains

  1. mune says:

    Is Buckhorn campground open to public now? I called clear creek station but no one picked up the phone.

    Does anybody know?

    • Rachel says:

      Its closed still we were there a week ago.half the crestline trail is closed. It was difficult to find the new extended reroute to the falls but it possible if u get there early enough. Its now around a 5 mile round trip hike.

  2. [...] is a bit difficult, but you should be fine finding it if you follow these directions precisely:  http://www.hikespeak.com/trails/cooper-canyon-fall/  Be sure you pay $5 for an Adventure Pass on your way into the park otherwise you will get a [...]

  3. Betty Wagner says:

    Hello,
    Is horse bare riding allowed?

  4. Tiffany says:

    Has anyone been here recently? I am planning a camping trip for next weekend and I’ve been researching good hiking trails, maybe with waterfalls/rivers/etc if possible. Is this trail still open and is there still a waterfall?

Ask a question or share your experience

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *