Hermit Falls Angeles National Forest Santa Anita Canyon Waterfall Los Angeles

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 to Hermit Falls
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.

Hermit Falls Trail
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.

Hermit Falls Trail
Hermit Falls

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.

hermit
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:

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Photos

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These photos were taken in May of 2010. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
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33 Comments on Hermit Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains

  1. Kolby says:

    I’m pretty sure this trail is open. Although the boundary for the closed portion of the Angeles NF uses the Santa Anita Canyon, the canyon itself (both up to Sturtevant Falls and down to Hermit Falls) is open.

    • debra says:

      it is open but be careful we went in the early eve a few days ago ..Aug 31st..and we had our 3 little dogs and my 6 year old son..i looked down on the narrow path to see that one of my dogs was standing 3 inches away from a young rattlesnake..the path is very narrow so any of us could have stepped on it..luckily i saw it and we just moved on quickly..
      i’ve hiked off beaten paths and many hikes all over the place and have never almost stepped on a rattlesnake!

  2. hikespeak says:

    Thanks, Kolby! I’ve updated the report and will try to make it out there this spring. I’ve been wondering how much of Santa Anita Canyon can be accessed since it is right on the edge of the closure area.

  3. Mari says:

    Just hiked to lower Hermit Falls this past weekend and it was awesome!! the falls were quite strong due to the storms we had this winter, which made for an amazing view.. the currents were extremely strong, so crossing over was not easy. luckily we were strong enough to lay some logs on the river and used that to cross over. we finally made it to the lower falls and it was well worth it. its an easy hike just a merely 3 miles roundtrip, even my two year old had a blast!!! you can see in the pictures the difference the rains have made on the current..

  4. Michelle says:

    Sounds great. How far is Hermit Falls from LA?

  5. Nick Carlin says:

    Seth, I am going to jump at hermit falls on Thursday. Any advice before I go?
    Nick

    • hikespeak says:

      Have a fun trip and be safe! Jumping at Hermit Falls is at your own risk. I haven’t made the leap from the top of the waterfall myself. There is a pools above the waterfall that seem safer to jump in to, and plunging down the natural waterslides above the watefall can be a blast. Enjoy the hike!

  6. shelby martin says:

    I live in Redondo Beach and I really want to go here fro my birthday! but no car :o does anyone know how I can get here though bus/subway.
    thanks.

    • lee mcgrevin says:

      from redondo beach take the green line (norwalk) to the blue line (los angeles) to the red line (union station) to the gold line (sierra madre villa) from bus terminal at end of gold line take the 487 (el monte) get off at santa anita and sierra madre blvd walk north up hill to chantry flats road . caution chantry flats road is not too safe to walk on at the bottom use care , cheers and happy bday

  7. Carrie says:

    Looking to jump here. Is it really scary or dangerous and are there hotels near by that are decent and nearby? What are water levels at this time of year?

  8. nubie says:

    Just hiked up to Eaton Canyon, it was beautiful and refreshing. How do the hikes compare? I want to take little ones to Hermit Falls.

    • hikespeak says:

      There is more elevation change and more shade on this hike. Also, it’s much harder to get a head on view of the waterfall than Eaton Canyon Falls, so children won’t be able to see it. The hike along the creek above the waterfall is lovely though.

  9. zoobum says:

    I am planing on going up here this weekend. Does any one know of a spot to camp. I have a two person tent and plan on bringing a friend.

    Thanks

  10. Pooks says:

    what do i need to take for the hike.?

  11. Stephanie says:

    I’m thinking of surprising my Boyfriend to go Cliff Jumping for his birthday would this be a good spot? How’s the hike up, he doesn’t like hiking too much and i want the Jump to be the surprise. Is the hike long and will I get lost if I take charge to get him up there?

  12. kelly saunders says:

    hi, is there any age restrictions for cliff jumping? im 12 and me and a group of friends want to go for my birthday! also do you know how deep the water is? and the heights of the cliffs?
    thanks :)

    • hikespeak says:

      Cliff jumping is not an activity that the national forest sanctions. Jumping is at your own risk and peril. Water levels fluctuate and can be lower (more dangerous) late in the summer.

  13. Audrey says:

    Went last month on a weekend and while the hike was nice, I was shocked upon arrival to the waterfall…never seen graffiti and such disrespect out in nature like that. People don’t do that where I come from, but this is LA.
    Lots of drinking and smoking going on, beer cans and other trash collecting at the bottom of the pools. Not surprised that right before we arrived two people were air-lifted out.

    This is a beautiful spot and it’s too bad how people treat it, but once I made myself get over the judgment, it was fun to hangout and cheer people on. Definitely more of a group adventure than waterfalls typically are.
    I will be looking further in the forest next time, hoping less people venture farther in, but I’ll head back here sometime, too.

  14. Montesa says:

    Hi, my friends and I are interested in going to Hermit falls on November 18, 2012. Can someone please tell me if going at this time of the year will be a good idea and if the falls will be strong? We want to have a fun time considering this is our first time going.
    Thank you so much and I hope someone will reply to me soon!

  15. This is a great day out! We were disappointed at first due to not knowing what to expect with parking and population. It should be noted that you should go early in the morning. Parking is extremely limited, and buying a parking pass DOES NOT guarantee you find a place to park. it merely keeps you from getting a parking ticket by rangers. People park in every crevice along the roadway they can find, which can make the drive a little nerve racking. You may have to drive in circles for an hour or so waiting for someone to leave if you don’t get there early. ALSO do not enter the GPS coordinates that are shown here. most popular GPS systems need the actual coordinates to help you find it. in your GPS you can enter these coordinates and it will direct you right to the trailhead: N34* 11.731 X W118* 01.355 for some pics of our trip, go to http://www.facebook.com/BBRStudioServices

  16. Maryanna says:

    is there a possibilty of catching a virus from the water?. I was just there yesterday and my co worker just told me to be careful when entering swamp waters or waters like these.

  17. Ninna krietz says:

    Looking forward to going. I’m so excited to enjoy the whole day : ))

  18. chew says:

    Does anyone know what the water level is like right now? Is it deep enough for the slides and jumping etc.?

  19. Lisa says:

    I was not impressed by this hike. Trails are very narrow and dusty and in some areas dangerous for small kids. It is also really crowded on the weekends, there was tons of trash everywhere (shame on the people who do not respect our planet!) It may have just been the crowd that weekend, but the people who were at the end of the trail by the falls were rude and smoking and my kids who like to hike said it was their “worst hike ever” Parking is also very difficult. I have hiked other trails in this area and I would recommend going to Sturtevant Falls trail where the trail is wider or other trails.

  20. [...] Sunday, a large crew of us did the hour drive from Santa Monica to Arcadia to hike Hermit Falls in the San Gabriels. Parking at Chantry Flats around Noon was totally full so we had to drive back [...]

  21. Joey says:

    Is this a good place for road cyclists to ride up? I haven’t seen any info/videos of people riding up here on a road bike.

    • hikespeak says:

      I have seen people biking up the road to Chantry Flats. The road is very windy with a lot of blind turns, so it’s not the best road to be biking on where there are lots of cars.

  22. Bianca says:

    Anyone know how to get to Sturtevant Falls after hiking Hermit Falls?

    • hikespeak says:

      Hi, After you hike down to Hermit Falls, you can hike back up the canyon on paths through Roberts Camp to get to Gabrielino Trail to Sturtevant Falls. There are paths on both sides of the creek, so all you have to do is keep hiking up the canyon and you’ll get to signs for Sturtevant Falls.

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