Paradise Falls drops 40 feet into a large pool along the Arroyo Conejo in Thousand Oaks. The waterfall is located within Wildwood Park, and thanks to an almost excessive network of trails, Paradise Falls may be reached via several routes, allowing for a 2.2-mile out and back hike or several loops of 2.5 miles or more. There is 260 feet of elevation loss between the main park trailhead and Paradise Falls. Adding a visit to Wildwood Park’s other main attraction, Lizard Rock, is a good way to extend the hike to four miles or more.
The direction to Paradise Falls is marked at most trail junctions in the park, so it will not be difficult to find. The easiest route is to head straight west on Mesa Trail, the most obvious trail departing the parking lot for Wildwood Park. After 1/3 of a mile, head to the left at a split on to North Tepee Trail, following an arrow for Paradise Falls. Stay straight through three junctions over the next 0.3 miles to come to a T-junction next to a recreation of a tepee. Here you may look down on the V-shaped canyon carved by the Arroyo Conejo. The landscape above the canyon is dotted with cactus and sage, while the creek is lined with sycamores and oaks, creating a riparian oasis. Since most of Wildwood Park can feel like a desert on a hot day, be sure to wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water.
Turn right at the teepe, and drop into the canyon for 1/8 of a mile. At the next sign for Paradise Falls, turn left down a single track cutting down the canyon. At the bottom of the trail, turn right on Wildwood Canyon Trail, and make a quick left to arrive at Paradise Falls, 1.1 miles from the start.
Paradise Falls plunges 40 feet into a large pool. Left of the falls is a rock grotto that looks alien to the surrounding landscape. Use stepping stones to cross through a line of cattails below the pool to get the best perspective of Paradise Falls from the opposing bank, where rock outcroppings create relaxing seats. Unfortunately swimming and climbing around the waterfall is prohibited. Though the water is cold and clear, and deep enough for someone to jump in, there is an advisory against swimming in the creek, which is feed by both natural springs and street runoff (yuck).
The creek above Paradise Falls
Once you leave Paradise Falls, if you don’t wish to return the way you came, there are several other areas of the park to explore. To extend the hike to just over 4 miles, head downstream on Wildwood Canyon Trail, which remains shaded as it follows the stream past a striking number of picnic tables. Hike up to Lizard Rock before returning to the trailhead across the mesa, completing a grand tour of Wildwood Park.
To hike up Wildwood Canyon Trail above the falls, turn right toward another interesting park feature named Indian Cave. The top of Wildwood Canyon Trail also borders the creek and passes through a shaded picnic area. After 1/4 mile, the trail meets a junction with a connection trail on the left, which can be taken to return to the tepee. Continue another 0.2 miles to a four-way junction near Indian Cave. Straight ahead, an single track breaks off toward the cave. Take this short detour if you would like to climb through a small tunnel in the rock face that may have once be occupied by Chumash Indians.
From the T at the end of Wildwood Canyon Trail, turn left to climb back up the mesa for a sun-exposed trek back to the trailhead, or head to the right, for a shaded shaded return along Indian Creek Trail. Both routes are approximately 0.75 miles in length. For the sunny route, turn left, hike 0.3 miles to Moonridge Trail and turn right to return to the trailhead. For the shady route, turn left, cross the bridge over the creek and make an immediate left. Head upstream beneath what seems like a thousand oaks bordering Indian Creek. Cross the creek after a quarter mile. Then stick to the left bank and climb out of the canyon (and back into the sun). At the top of the trail, reach Avenido de los Arboles, turn left and hike less than 0.2 miles back to the trailhead.
The map below offers a visual explanation of all the routes to choose from:
The park’s abundance of picnic tables cannot be overstated. In fact, there are six picnic areas right along the canyon near Paradise Falls. Each table is located in the shade, and on most weekends it is not challenging to find a few that are available.
A picnic area along Wildwood Canyon Trail above Paradise Falls
If you head out to Wildwood Park for a picnic, you will find areas with numerous tables and others with just a couple. The park is designed to accommodate any reasonably sized group. At Sycamore Flats Picnic Area downstream from the falls, there are even public restrooms. Any of the picnic areas would be a great place to stop off for a bite during a hike of the park.
No fee or permit is required to visit Paradise Falls in Wildwood Park. Dogs are welcome, so get out and enjoy!
To get to the trailhead: Take the 101 Freeway to Thousand Oaks to exit 45 for Lynn Road. Drive north for 2.5 miles on Lynn Road, and turn left on Avenido de los Arboles. Drive to the end of the street and park in the lot on the left.
Trailhead address: 928 West Avenida De Los Arboles, Wildwood Regional Park, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
Trailhead coordinates: 34.220053, -118.902723 (34° 13′ 12.19″N 118° 54′ 09.80″W)
Use the map below to view the trail and get directions:
To add extra mileage and views to a visit to Paradise Falls in Thousand Oaks, consider placing Lizard Rock on your itinerary.
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