Fish Canyon Falls San Gabriel Mountains Angeles National Forest Hike

Fish Canyon Falls is an eighty-foot tall three-tiered beauty in the San Gabriel Mountains near Azusa. Spring is the perfect time to visit the dynamic waterfall, but access is limited because there is a rock quarry blocking the trailhead. The creation of the quarry resulted in decades of disputed access to what was once one of the most popular destinations to the range. The quarry chewed up the first mile of the trail, reducing the trek to Fish Canyon Falls to four miles round trip with 400 feet of elevation gain. Even in it’s abbreviated form, this still deserves to be one of the most highly regarded hikes in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Since the quarry operators will not allow you to just stroll through their active work zone, there are only certain days when the quarry opens the trailhead to hikers. Typically, hiking to Fish Canyon Falls is permitted two Saturdays per month throughout the spring. The calendar of these dates is available on the quarry website.

After checking in at the quarry parking lot, a shuttle will drive you to the trailhead. From there, hike straight up the canyon to the falls. The trail takes the left bank of the canyon and climbs above the creek past seasonal wildflowers like sunflowers, wishbone bush, blue dicks, and wallflowers. The trail dips back to the creek where sycamores, bays, and alders provide relaxing shade. Boulders in the creek create small rapids and pools that make the creek that much more soothing.

Fish Canyon Trail
Fish Canyon Trail

The trail climbs gradually up the canyon through sun and shade. After a creek crossing, the trail switches to the right bank and approaches Fish Canyon Falls. It is quite a sight! Water tumbles from the lip of the canyon to an upper pool, then pours down a short falls before streaming down the third and longest tier. There is a decent sized pool at the base of the falls and plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy a snack. The pool beneath the upper falls is not accessible to hikers, but could make for an adventurous climb for those with proper gear.

Fish Canyon Falls
Fish Canyon Falls

The trail ends at the falls, so return the way you came. An alternative to the trail is rock-hoping down the creek. You will not find a path, but most of the creek can be crossed easily enough. With a little bushwhacking you can add some variation to the hike. Along with extra fun and exercise, you will also enjoy enjoy added shade along the babbling creek.

Fish Canyon Falls
Sunflowers along the trail

The parks department built a trail over Van Tassel Ridge to circumvent the quarry to access Fish Canyon. By all accounts this path adds a brutal couple of miles and some serious elevation gain to this otherwise pleasant trek. The trail is also reported to be steep, narrow, and dangerous. The best way to Fish Canyon Falls is through the quarry, so circle a day on their access calendar and plan a visit. There is no fee or permit required to visit Fish Canyon Falls (which should not be confused with the Fish Canyon Narrows on the west side of the Angeles National Forest), so get out and enjoy!

To get to the quarry and trailhead: make your way to the intersection of the 210 and 605 freeways in Azusa (east of Pasadena). Exit to Huntington Drive and head east. After a few blocks, make a left on Encanto Parkway. The quarry is about one mile up the road.

Trailhead address: 3901 Fish Canyon Road, Azusa, CA 91702
Trailhead coordinates: 34.156722, -117.92507

Use the map below to create your own directions:


View Los Angeles Hikes in a larger map

Photos

Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls
Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls
Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls
Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls
Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls   Fish Canyon Falls

These photos were taken in March of 2009. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Azusa Peak Garcia Trail Azusa Peak (and Glendora Peak) via Garcia Trail
This 2 2/3-mile or 4 2/3-mile hike ascends Garcia Trail to “the A” and one or two picturesque summits along Glendora Ridge Motorway.
Smith MountainSmith Mountain
This 7-mile hike ascends 1,800 feet to a 5,111 foot summit with panoramic views over the San Gabriel Mountains.
Bridge to Nowhere hikeBridge to Nowhere
This adventurous 10-mile round trip hike reaches an abandoned and out-of-place bridge with a unique history.
Sturtevant Falls angeles hikeSturtevant Falls
This 3.25-mile hike visits a 60-foot waterfall and a lush cottage-lined canyon.
Hermit Falls malibuHermit Falls
This 2.5-mile heads down canyon away from Sturtevant Falls toward a 30-foot waterfall. The lush canyon and the babbling creek are quite calming.
Santa Anita Canyon angeles hikeSanta 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.
baldy loop angeles hikeMount Baldy Loop
This 11.3-mile hike incorporates the Devil’s Backbone and the Baldy Bowl – Ski Hit Trail into one see-all loop.
Angeles hikeMore trails in the San Gabriel Mountains
Explore other destinations in the range.
Similar Trail
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 Falls Los AngelesSan Antonio Falls
This 1.4-mile hike visits a multi-tier waterfall along the trail to Mount Baldy.
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.
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.
rose valley fallsRose Valley Falls in the Los Padres National Forest
This 1-mile round trip trail leads to the lower tier of a lovely two-tier 300-foot waterfall.
tangerine fallsTangerine Falls in Los Padres National Forest
This 2.5-mile hike visits a beautiful waterfall on the edge of Santa Barbara.
los angeles waterfallMore waterfalls around Los Angeles
Explore other waterfalls in the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains.

11 Comments on Fish Canyon Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains

  1. Tjis is a great hike! who’s coming on Saturday?

  2. FISH CANYON FALLS SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS

  3. tookta says:

    Fish Canyon Falls is one fun trail. Now, is a good time to be up there. It is such a beautiful waterfall today.

  4. luu_agnes says:

    To Whom It May Concern,

    Just wonder how often the shuttle runs, from when to when ?

    Thanks !

    Agnes

    • hikespeak says:

      The shuttle will be running tomorrow and drives back and forth uninterrupted throughout the day for hikers.

      • peter calfo says:

        this is a very dangerous hike you have to be well experienced. i stopped right when i got to a really steep, wide trail after a chain fence.

  5. Patrick says:

    BE AWARE: The shuttle only runs on SATURDAYS.

    Otherwise, you’ll have to hike a rigorous 4.5 miles from the parking lot just before the quarry to the falls. According to the copies of the trail map with directions conveniently available for hikers at the start of the trail, the hike is broken up into four stages.

    STAGE ONE: Trailhead parking lot to top of Diamond Head (1.1 miles, 860′ elevation gain, 30-40 mins).
    STAGE TWO: Diamond Head to Angeles National Forest boundary (0.8 miles, 520′ elevation gain, 25-35 mins).
    STAGE THREE: Angeles National Forest boundary to the main Fish Canyon Trail (1.1 miles, 1,100′ elevation loss, 30-40 mins).
    STAGE FOUR: Fish Canyon Trail to Fish Canyon Falls (1.5 miles, 400′ elevation gain, 40-50 mins).

    We had to bail out early as we did not expect any of this, but the trail looked like a great hike and fun time.

  6. Corey says:

    I’m one of those types who when told something is strenous and possibly dangerous I just have to prove something. I’m an intermediate hiker – really don’t know what would qualify that but I’m just guessing. That hike kicked my %}^*#!! And I got all the way to a dried up waterfall, not even a trinkle and the creek was dry.

    But I did it!! Where’s my envy me shirt? Now let’s hope that all that poison oak I brushed will get me.. The trail is not maintained.. Not dangerous if you be careful, but is STEEP – beautiful panoramic views of SGV.

  7. Noe says:

    Does anyone know if the trail will be open soon? Or if there is a work around for the whole vulcan thing

Ask a question or share your experience

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