This 2.6-mile round trip hike visits a short waterfall downstream from Sturtevant Falls in the Angeles National Forest. Hermit Falls receives fewer visitors than its neighbor but is a popular swimming hole for cliff jumpers in the spring and summer. The trailhead is at 2,100 feet, while the falls are at 1,500, making this is an upside down hikes where the uphill comes at the end.
To reach Hermit Falls, descend the paved road from Chantry Flats. On the downhill side of a horseshoe bend in the road, 0.18 miles from the start, turn right on the dirt trail labeled First Water Trail. Follow this winding single track down into Santa Anita Canyon. The top of the trail is exposed to sun and views, but the lower switchbacks find shade beneath the trees growing along the creek.
First Water Trail
After another 0.55 miles, the trail reaches the bottom of the canyon. Turn right and begin walking south past retreat cabins in the hamlet know as Roberts Camp. After a short distance, the trail along the bank comes to an end above a man-made dam. Rock hope to the other side of the creak and pick up the trail heading downstream. Hermit Falls is half a mile away, and the lush canyon provides a peaceful stroll. The route crosses the babbling creek once more and climbs up the east bank, before dropping down on the pools above the falls.
A check dam in the creek
In the summer, the water above Hermit Falls makes a great swimming hole. There are ledges to jump from and flat stone perfect for sunning. When the flow is sufficient, a pair cascades above the falls form a natural water slide. There is no real trail to the base of the falls, but those up for a technical climb can descend a steep rock face alongside the falls. Cliff jumping is another way down, and while that can be dangerous, you are bound to see hikers engaging in the activity on most weekends when the water is high.
In the spring, crossing the creek along the trail to the falls may require a bit of wading. The flow typically diminishes in summer months, but the trail remains pleasant in July and August when a nice shady hike and a refreshing swim are desirable.
Sliding down the mossy cascade
A visit to Hermit Falls can easily be combined with a hike to Sturtevant Falls or other trails in the area (like Santa Anita Canyon Loop). Be advised that the closure of other trails in the San Gabriel Mountains has made Chantry Flats especially crowded.
To get to the trailhead: Take the 210 east through Pasadena to Arcadia. Exit Santa Anita and head north. Go up the mountain for five miles until the road ends at Chantry Flats. Display your National Forest adventure pass and park your car in the lot.
Trailhead address: Chantry Flats Road, Angeles National Forest, Arcadia, CA 91006
Trailhead coordinates: 34.195515, -118.022503 (34° 11′ 43.85″N 118° 01′ 21.01″W)
Use the map below to create your own directions:
This 3.25-mile hike visits a 60-foot waterfall and a lush cottage-lined canyon.
This 4.25-mile hike follows Lower Winter Creek Trail through a beautiful wooded canyon to a backcountry campground with fourteen first-come first-serve sites.
|Santa 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.
|Upper Winter Creek Trail|
This 2.75-mile long trail can be used to extend Santa Anita Canyon Loop or create a 4.85-mile loop with Lower Winter Creek Trail.
|More trails in the San Gabriel Mountains|
Explore other destinations in the range.
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.
|Cooper Canyon Falls|
This 3-mile hike leaves from Buckhorn Campground and visits a short waterfall in an enchanting glen of tall pines.
|Fish Canyon Falls|
This 4-mile hike starts at a rock quarry with restricted access and ends up at a multi-tiered 80-foot waterfall.
This one mile hike visits a 50-foot waterfall up one of the most scenic canyons in the range.
|Trail Canyon Falls|
This 4-mile hike visits a 40-foot beauty on the east side of the San Gabriel Mountains.
|More waterfalls around Los Angeles|
Explore other waterfalls in the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains.