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 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 view the trail (in blue) and get directions:
|Henninger 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.
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