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 2,180 feet, while the falls are at 1,430, 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.
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.
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.
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)
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