Switzer Falls San Gabriel Mountains Los Angeles National Forest Pasadena California

Switzer Falls might be the best know waterfall hike in Los Angeles County. This 50-foot waterfall is reachable via a 4.5 mile out-and-back trek that follows a shaded babbling creek down into a wooded canyon. This is one of the most popular hikes in front country of the San Gabriel Mountains. There is a picnic area at the trailhead, which gets crowded too.

The trail to Switzer Falls begins at Switzer Picnic Area, ten miles up CA 2 from Altadena. Cross the bridge and walk down Bear Canyon on a road that was paved 80 years ago (and is losing its battle with nature and time). This first stretch of the hike is in the shade, with a few crossing of the Arroyo Seco and the opportunity to visit resort era ruins.

After a mile (and a few dozen wild blackberries if you are hiking in the summer) the trail leaves the creek and climbs up the canyon wall. You will be exposed to plenty of views and sun as the trail runs along the steep wall of the canyon. From here you will gain a view of the top of Switzer Falls. The trail continues along Bear Canyon and heads back down to the creek. Follow the trail as it turns upstream toward Switzer Falls. Here you will find fellow hikers enjoying the small pools and cascades beneath the falls.

Switzer Falls
Switzer Falls

With a bit of maneuvering, one can climb above the pools and follow the creek a bit further to the base of the falls. It is worth noting, that most hikers do not make it all the way to the falls because there is no trail and the creek is tricky to climb. Other waterfalls in the Angeles are easier to access, but this has not seemed to damper the popularity of the Switzer Falls Trail.

The pools beneath Switzer has been tagged with graffiti, which is something I prefer to leave behind on the streets when I hike to the streams.

To get to the trailhead: From the 210 Freeway in La Cañada Flintridge, take the Angeles Crest Highway (CA 2) northwest for 10 miles to the Switzer Picnic Area. Descent to the parking lot, display your adventure pass and begin hiking. If the lot at the picnic area is full, there is additional parking at the top of the road.

Trailhead address: Switzer Truck Trail, Angeles National Forest, Tujunga, CA 91042
Trailhead coordinates: 34.266239, -118.145708

Use the map below to create your own directions to the trailhead:


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Photos

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These photos were taken in July of 2007 and March of 2009, prior to the Station Fire, which closed the trail for a year and a half. Click to enlarge.
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19 Comments on Switzer Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains

  1. R Peredo says:

    where do we purchase parking and how much? Switzer Falls
    in the San Gabriel Mountains

  2. dabid says:

    This is my first hike since I discovered Angeles Crest Highway and I was completely satisfied. The trail was not bad at all– I would even say easy-moderate hike. The hardest part was leaving the creek and walking back up the trail–this was only a very short part of the hike. Going to the falls was a lot a fun but slightly tricky. I thought I was at the end but then realized that trail continued. This was the part I enjoyed the most since I was hiking up and meandering up the river hoping from stone to stone. When I finally reach Switzer Falls I was impressed. Very Isolated and clean and I was lucky enough to have it to myself. The water was very clear and refreshing. I definitely recommend this one!

  3. Remember that time I sprained my ankle? | Thoughts of the Chronically Indecisive says:

    [...] of us went to Switzer Falls on Monday.  I figured it wouldn’t be a stroll in the park, but nice trails more or less, [...]

  4. Sassyred says:

    Very much enjoyed this hike. Again, goal is to photograph all the waterfalls and did so here. Will probably do this hike again, also, with my Australian Shepherd when he gets a touch older, still a puppy now.

  5. kenya says:

    Could someone give directions coming from Long Beach.

  6. Zoya says:

    are there any snakes?

  7. cindy says:

    What time do the gates of switzer falls close? i just dont want to get stuck walking the big hill:)

  8. Angel Valdez says:

    Adventure pass still required? And per party or each individual needs one?

    thanks.

  9. jessica mendez says:

    could you purchase a parking pass on site?

    • hikespeak says:

      You can purchase an Adventure Pass from the Clear Creek Ranger Station, which is along Angeles Crest Highway about half a mile before the turn for Switzer Picnic Area.

  10. Alida says:

    I am planning a family day hike with parents/children from school. The group could be as large as 30 people. Would you recommend Switzer Falls to be the right type of hike for a large group with children?

    • hikespeak says:

      This trail to Switzer Falls has narrow, steep sections and it’s a bit of a challenge to reach the waterfall. I would recommend Eaton Canyon Falls for a large group with children. Most of the trail is wide and easy, and there is a large area below the waterfall for everyone to gather.

  11. Julez says:

    Do you need an adventure pass for this hike? How much are they? I’m planning to hike where there’s beautiful waterfall with my boyfriend this Spring Break. We’re from Hawai’i and don’t want to get lost along the way or go alone really. I would like to go somewhere with a few people and not too dangerous. Any suggestion would be great.

  12. […] highly recommend a hike to Switzer Falls to introduce you to Angeles National Forest, followed by lunch at Newcomb’s Ranch – a […]

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