This trail was damaged by the 2009 Station Fire

Trail Canyon Falls San Gabriel Mountains hike Angeles National Forest Big Tujunga Canyon Waterfall

The west side of the San Gabriel Mountains offers less trails than the rest of the range, but it is home to one terrific waterfall. This four-mile round trip hike on Trail Canyon Trail tackles 700 feet of elevation gain to reach a sublime 30-foot waterfall. NOTE: While the Trail Canyon area of the Angeles National Forest reopened to the public in 2012, there is a large wash-out along the trail and other damaged from the 2009 Station Fire that has made it difficult to reach the waterfall.

Approach this waterfall via Trail Canyon Trail (a trail so good they named it twice). After 3/4 of a mile walking past cabins along a dirt road, a single track will emerge on the left. Take this trail and follow Golden Creek up a canyon shaded with alders and sycamores.

Golden Creek
Golden Creek

The trail crosses the stream a few times before climbing the wall of Big Tujunga Canyon. Glimpses of the falls can be seen ahead. The trail makes its way around the canyon and opens up on a large granite landing above the falls. This is a great spot to stop for a snack and enjoy the creek. Ahead, the trail continues up to Tom Lucas Trail Camp.

For a real view of the falls, backtrack along the trail to a footpath leading down into the canyon. The path descends a steep bank of dirt through brush, and should only be attempted by able hikers wearing shoes with good traction.

After dropping to the canyon floor, you will be greeted with an outstanding view of Trail Canyon Falls. The 30-foot waterfall spills over a smooth wall into a shallow pool. In winter or early spring, when rain water fills the creek, the waterfall is quite impressive.

Trail Canyon Falls
Trail Canyon Falls

Considering the effort it will take to get back up the trail, break for a moment and enjoy. An alternative return route is to bushwhack and rock-hop down the creek to get back to the trail. Dogs are welcome on this hike, and it is free to park at the trailhead (a National Forest Adventure Pass is no longer required).

To get to the trailhead: From the 210 Freeway in Sunland, between Pasadena and the junction of the 5 and 405 Freeways, head north on Sunland Boulevard until it becomes Foothill Boulevard. After another mile, turn left on Mount Gleason Avenue. One and a third miles later, make a right on Big Tujunga Canyon Road. After 3.4 miles, turn left up a hard-to-spot road (a sign for Trail Canyon Trail is visible from the opposite direction). Follow this road for half a mile to a large parking lot.

Trailhead address: 19600 North Trail Canyon Road, Angeles National Forest, Tujunga, CA 91042
Trailhead coordinates: 34.305323, -118.255444 (34° 18′ 19.16″N 118° 15′ 19.59″W)

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


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Photos

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These photos were taking in March of 2008, prior to the Station Fire, which closed the trail for two and a half years. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Verdugo mountain trailHostetter Fire Road to Verdugo Peak
This 7.5-mile round-trip hike starts on the north side of the range and ascends La Tuna Canyon to reach the highest summit in the Verdugo Mountains.
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This 5.33-mile round trip hike in Placerita Canyon Natural Area follows Canyon Trail to the ruins of Walker Ranch and Waterfall Trail to an elusive falls in a sylvan canyon.
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This 4.5-mile hike starts out above and finishes below a 50-foot tall waterfall.
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Explore other destinations in the range.
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9 Comments on Trail Canyon Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains

  1. Dan Lauf says:

    I was following up on this posting and seeking out an Adventure Pass. According to the USDA Forest Service this trail is Free and does NOT require the pass. The site mentions recent changes so maybe this has become free after posting.

    http://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/r5/home/?cid=stelprdb5404142&width=full#aanf

  2. charity says:

    I was just curious to find out if it’s still difficult to reach the waterfalls per your note on your website. I would love to go hiking to this place but don’t want to hike only to find out I can’t reach the waterfalls? Thank you in advance for your help :)
    Charity
    NOTE: While the Trail Canyon area of the Angeles National Forest reopened to the public in 2012, there is a large wash-out along the trail and other damaged from the 2009 Station Fire that has made it difficult to reach the waterfall.

    • Yasha says:

      Yes, it is very difficult to reach the falls. This will not change, as the trail is not maintained. Half way to the falls, the trail begins switch-backing up the left-hand side of the canyon. This stretch of the trail is impassible, without running the risk of falling into the abyss. It is extremely dangerously narrow, and should you trip, there is nothing to break your fall.

      I accessed the falls yesterday through an alternative route: I resorted to traveling off of designated trails. I literally scrambled along the side of the stream, and in some cases in the stream, to the base of the waterfall. It was fairly difficult scrambling and bush-whacking, because there is no clear path there. There are too many thickets. I got scratched all over the place. It was worth it though. The falls were quite a spectacle. There was a moderate amount of water, considerably less than the pictures above. It was still very pretty.

      Should you attempt this scrambling/bushwhacking, be very careful about tripping on slabs of rocks along the stream if you get your boots wet in the stream, as I did. I tripped a few times, but I was not quite as careful as I would have been if I had more daylight. Allow at least four hours before the gate closes.

  3. debbie says:

    can you please confirm or deny if a adventure pass will be necessary in June. We plan to come with our Cub Scout pack and need the details to prepare all in advance. Parking fee? and or pass necessary ?

    Thank you

  4. Linda says:

    Has anyone done the hike recently? Is the fall still visible? Saw a yelp posting from 2 weeks ago and poster said there was no fall.

  5. DAVID says:

    I hiked it today 7 – 26 – 2013 no-falls. We haven’t had any rain in like 4 or 5 months. You have to go in winter if you wanna see some big time falls! The trail is washed out in like 7 or 8 places watch your footing on this trail please.

  6. A says:

    No falls, but there should be water in the creek still, correct?

  7. Vallyhiker says:

    On May 3, 2014, I hiked to the fall. The first 0.5 miles appear to be treacherous due to fallen trees, crossing streams, etc. After that the trail seem to be more well defined and normal. The only thing is that you need to scramble to get to the canyon floor to enjoy the fall from the bottom. It looked really steep, so I passed andto decided to stay at the top area of the fall – ample fresh and clean water to enjoy.

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