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, including a 2.15-mile out and back hike or a 2.55-mile loop that visits a small cave. It is a downhill hike from the trailhead to Paradise Falls with 260 feet of elevation change. Adding a visit to Wildwood Park’s other main attraction, Lizard Rock, is a good way to extend the hike to 4.35 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 area for Wildwood Park. Pass through a few junctions over the first 0.35 miles and turn left at a split onto North Tepee Trail, following an arrow for Paradise Falls. Stay straight through three junctions over the next 0.4 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 tepee, and drop into the canyon for 1/8 of a mile on Tepee Trail. At the next sign for Paradise Falls, turn left down a single track cutting down the canyon. At the next junction, turn right onto Wildwood Canyon Trail and make an immediate left to continue descending to Paradise Falls. Pass through a picnic area to arrive at a pool below Paradise Falls, 1.07 miles from the start.
Paradise Falls plunges 40 feet into a large pool. Left of waterfall 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).
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. This stretch of Wildwood Canyon Trail borders the creek and passes through a shaded picnic area. After 1/4 mile, the trail meets a junction with the other end of Tepee 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, a single track ventures up toward the cave. Take this short detour to climb through a small tunnel in the rock face that may have once be occupied by Chumash Indians. The trail to Indian Cave adds 0.2 miles round trip to the hike.
Back at the four-way junction, you could turn either way to return to the trailhead in another 3/4 of a mile. For one 2.55-mile loop, make a left turn (originally on your right) and follow Wildwood Canyon Trail across North Fork Arroyo Creek. On the other side, turn left up Indian Creek Trail, which stays in the shade as it heads out of the canyon.
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, and turn left to hike less than 0.2 miles back to the trailhead.
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. 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.
The basic directions for one loop to Paradise Falls and Indian Cave are:
- Begin hiking west on Mesa Trail
- Turn left onto North Tepee Trail (0.35 miles)
- Reach a T-junction in front of a recreated tepee and turn right onto Tepee Trail (0.75 miles)
- Turn left down a trail to Paradise Falls (0.88 miles)
- Turn right on Wildwood Canyon Trail (0.99 miles)
- Turn left down a trail to Paradise Falls (1.01 miles)
- Enjoy Paradise Falls (1.07)
- Hike back up to Wildwood Canyon Trail and turn right (1.13)
- Stay to the right on Wildwood Trail (1.15 miles)
- Pass a junction with Tepee Trail (1.4 miles)
- Reach a 4-way junction and proceed straight on Indian Cave Trail (1.6 miles)
- Explore Indian Cave (1.7 miles)
- Return to the junction and turn left, which was originally on the right (1.8 miles)
- Cross a bridge over North Fork Arroyo Creek and turn left up Indian Creek Trail (1.82 miles)
- Ascend to Avenida De Los Arboles and turn left (2.4 miles)
- Return to the trailhead (2.55 miles)
No fee or permit is required to visit Paradise Falls in Wildwood Park. Dogs and bikes 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)
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