Eaton Canyon Falls Pasadena Waterfall hike San Gabriel Mountains

The forty-foot tall Eaton Canyon Falls fills the amphitheater at the top of Eaton Canyon Trail, tumbling into a wide pool that you can rest alongside or wade in. The waist-deep water is so refreshing, you are likely to see hikers in bathing suits on a warm day. The trail to Eaton Canyon Falls can be summed up this way: 1.1 miles of wide flat dirt trail that can feel uneventful, followed by 0.65 miles of single track up a narrow canyon that is adventurous and fun (forming a 3.5 mile round trip hike with 375 feet of elevation gain).

The trail starts in Eaton Canyon Nature Area, a place you might go to walk your dog or push around one of those BOB strollers with the big rubber wheels. The easy path draws many visitors to the park for just that purpose. Follow the trail along a typically dry creek bed, Eaton Wash. There are a few shady thickets and plenty of sun along the way.

The trail crosses Eaton Wash after 0.2 miles and turn left below a canopy of trees. At 0.55 miles from the start, you will come to a junction with the Horse Trail. Stay to the left to continue up Eaton Canyon Trail. The Horse Trail (Walnut Canyon Trail) heads up the side of the canyon to the east, reaching Mount Wilson Toll Road after 0.6 miles.

When you’ve hiked 1.1 miles up Eaton Canyon Trail, you will come to another marked junction, just below a white concrete bridge on Mount Wilson Toll Road. The trail to the right at the split connects to the Toll Road, a wide dirt hiking trail running all the way to the summit of Mount Wilson. Mount Wilson Toll Road can be used to reach Henninger Flats, a scenic perch covered in pine trees with a visitor information center, campground, lookout tower, and tree nursery operated by the Los Angeles County Fire Department. To reach Eaton Canyon Falls, stay to the left, following an arrow for the waterfall, and pass below the bridge to enter the San Gabriel Mountains.

Once you pass beneath the bridge, the hike changes drastically. You are suddenly hiking up a canyon, crossing from bank to bank up a winding creek. Be especially careful on this section of the trail, which crosses rugged terrain. This enjoyable stretch is over far too quickly as the falls are just 0.6 miles past the bridge.

Eaton Canyon
Eaton Canyon Falls

The trail is well marked and easy to follow, ending at Eaton Canyon Falls. Along with a powerful waterfall, spring brings a bountiful bloom to the park. Fern leaf phacelia, chia, and other flowers are everywhere. No fee or permit is required to visit Eaton Canyon Falls, so get out and enjoy!

To get to the trailhead: Take the Altadena exit off the 210 Freeway in Pasadena. Head north on Altadena Drive. The Eaton Canyon Nature Area is a couple miles up the road on the right past New York Drive. Pull into the park, leave your vehicle in the lot by the nature center and start hiking north.

Trailhead address: 1750 North Altadena Drive, Pasadena, CA 91107
Trailhead coordinates: 34.177202, -118.096485 (34° 10′ 37.92″N 118° 05′ 47.34″W)

Use the map below to create your own directions:

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Photos

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These photos were taken in April of 2009. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Henninger Flats hikeHenninger Flats via Mount Wilson Toll Road
This 6-mile round trip hike ascends 1,325 feet to a trail camp, tree nursery, lookout tower, and visitor center on a landing in the San Gabriel Mountains operated by the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The hike can easily be extended to 8.7 miles by exploring a loop above Henninger Flats.
santa anita canyonSanta Anita Canyon Loop
This 9.5-mile loop visits two peaceful creeks in sylvan canyons, passing a 60-foot waterfall and plenty of beautiful wilderness.
Sturtevant Falls HikeSturtevant Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains
This 3.25-mile hike visits a 60-foot waterfall and a lush cottage-lined canyon.
Mount WatermanMount Waterman in the Angeles National Forest
This 5.5-mile hike gradually ascends 1300 feet, passing through a pine forest to reach the round summit of Mount Waterman.
Cooper Canyon angeles waterfallCooper Canyon Falls
This 3-mile hike leaves from Buckhorn Campground and visits a short waterfall in an enchanting glen of tall pines.
dawn mineDawn Mine
This 6-mile hike from Millard Campground leads past Millard Falls to an old gold mine.
Rubio Canyon Trail Los AngelesRubio Canyon Trail
This 1.3-mile round trip hike ventures into a rustic canyon to a double waterfall.
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Explore other destinations in the range.
Similar Trails
fish canyon fallsFish Canyon Falls
This 4-mile hike starts at a rock quarry with restricted access and ends up at a multi-tiered 80-foot waterfall.
millard fallsMillard Falls
This one mile hike visits a 50-foot waterfall up one of the most scenic canyons in the range.
Monrovia Falls hikeMonrovia Falls
This 1.6-mile to 3-mile hike in Monrovia Canyon Park follows an enchanting canyon up to the base of the 30-foot waterfall.
san antonio fallsSan Antonio Falls
This 1.4-mile hike visits a multi-tier waterfall along the trail to Mount Baldy.
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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.
thousand oaks hikeParadise Falls
This 40-foot waterfall is located within Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks and is reachable via several trails.
los angeles waterfallMore waterfalls around Los Angeles
Explore other waterfalls in the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains.
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16 Comments on Eaton Canyon Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains

  1. Jeff Parkhurst says:

    would it be good to go here around the first week of oct?? or dangerous? any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  2. I hiked this on a Saturday during the summer and it was incredibly packed. Although that was annoying, it was a testament to how beautiful the trail is. Also, bring a pair of shoes you can get wet, or a pair of sandals so you can ford the river fifteen times without a lot of waiting.

  3. Brendan Cartwright says:

    This was a beautiful, scenic hike that started easy and got more rugged as we neared the waterfall. There was plenty of running water in the end of June, but there were way too many people to truly enjoy the beauty of the hike. When we reached the waterfall, there were at least 200 people crowding around it. Be careful crossing the stream, those rocks can be slippery!

  4. jendiamond says:

    It is a lovely hike but I would like to check it out during the week instead of the weekend. It was incredibly busy here today, Sunday. It was still nice but at the actual falls there was 150 people which was really too may. (People were littering. I picked up what I saw.) It is so lovely and cool as soon as you reach the wooded areas.

  5. Marisa says:

    I hiked this trail over the weekend and LOVED it. It wasn’t too crowded, but the creek was pretty dried up because it’s the middle of August. Lots of smaller trails off the main trail you can check out, too! Would love to do this again in the autumn and spring when there’s more water.

    You can check out some pics and a full review on my trip here: http://apartment402.tumblr.com/post/30393381402/eatoncanyon

  6. Rene says:

    Hey folks – Eaton Canyon is beautiful, but *please* go only on the marked trails. There is *no* safe trail to the second waterfall, and every year, folks die trying to get there. Most recently, a 17-year-old girl fell and died. Enjoy the canyon, but stay alive! If nothing else, think what pulling your mangled corpse out of the canyon will do to the rescue crews,

  7. Kim says:

    There is no maintained trail to this waterfall on Forest Service Land. The trails are user created and have become very dangerous due to people climbing the unstable rock. People come to this area unprepared and with little thought for safety causing multiple rescues each week and 8 fatalities in the last three years. Please take this hike off your list.

  8. Ruby Theophile says:

    I am a participant in a 12 week exercise program for pre-diabetics conducted by the kinesiology dept. of Cal. State Northridge. We are in the 11 week and the program has been granted for an extension. Most of the exercise takes place inside, with the exception of walks, jogs,etc. outside on the facility premises. Recently we went on a 6 6mi. hike in Echo Canyon. We are looking for other exercises to do outside the classroom that would be in keeping with the physical fitness goals of the program. In past years I’ve gone on day hikes in the Angeles Forest conducted by the Forest Rangers and Sierra Club. Does anyone know if these day hikes are stll being done?

  9. Julez says:

    Will there still be a lot of people around this time of year (MARCH)? And is the waterfall still running? I’m planning to go here for Spring break.

  10. stephswilliams says:

    They have done a lot with this trail and looks a lot better than it did a year or so ago with the graffiti and rundown facilities. The trail IS rocky, but definitely manageable for someone with good health, balance and proper foot ware. We walked it just today after the rain last night and witnessed several small rock slides, so do be careful and keep your eyes and ears open.

    The best time to go is during the week between 7:30-10:00AM. Any later and you start to run into crowds. I would never do this hike on the weekend, the trail is too crowded and not enjoyable once you get to the falls (which become a swimming hole/hang out area).

    If you must go on a weekend, I recommend going right at sunrise or at 8AM at the very latest to enjoy a quieter hike.

  11. FredChung says:

    Hello,
    Are the falls running now (June)?

    • Tami says:

      Yes, I was there about 2 weeks ago and there was plenty of water at the falls and people rock climbing down the face of the falls.

  12. Larry says:

    was there June 28, to many people, litter all over. people just don’t care.

  13. Richard says:

    Is it safe walking to the 1st waterfall? I know going up the 2nd is very dangerous. Any comments? Thanks.

  14. Irene says:

    Hi I wanted to visit and was wondering if anyone has taken a child…my daughter is 7 and just wanted to know if it was safe enough for her?

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