Cooper Canyon Falls San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Trail Angeles National Forest Waterfall Hike Buckhorn Campground hiking

Cooper Canyon offers a relaxing summer waterfall for those staying overnight at Buckhorn Campground or venturing into San Gabriel Mountains National Monument for a get-away day hike. The three-mile round trip trek descends 745 feet into a mountain canyon through an enchanting old-growth forest to reach a small waterfall.

Those tenting at Buckhorn Campground should feel compelled to experience this trail. For other visitors, drive into the campground and follow signs for the day-use parking.

Locate Buckhart Trail and the north end of the lot and begins down the west side of Buckhorn Canyon. The single track passes through a mixed forest of pines, alders, and oaks. To the right, several footpaths lead down to a small creek. The last such sidetrack drops to an overlook that peers down on a tall slender waterfall. Be careful as you travel on and off the trail; your safety is your responsibility.

Buckhorn Cooper Canyon
A view down Buckhorn Canyon

Stay on the main trail to reach Cooper Canyon Falls. The forest gives way to wide views of Cooper Canyon and Pleasant View Ridge as the trail curves left around a rock wall and descends a gravel slope. On the return, this will be the toughest part of the hike.

The trail turns east down Upper Little Rock Creek, passing through a pacifying glen of pines and ferns. If the falls weren’t so close ahead, this would be a great place to stop and relax, exploring the trees and creek.

Cross over the creek flowing down Buckhorn Canyon and continue to a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. Turn right, away from the Cooper Canyon Trail Campground, and travel east a short distance farther. Pay attention to the left side of the trail to spot where Upper Little Rock Creek tumbles over the falls. A pair of paths break off down the steep slope to the creek. This is the way to the waterfall. Descend carefully. A rope tied to a tree near the bottom helps hikers lower themselves the final ten feet.

Cooper Canyon Waterfall
Cooper Canyon Falls

Below the falls are rocks to relax on and a pool to wade in. Small trout swim in the calm knee-high water. Cooper Canyon Falls is little more than thirty feet tall so it will not impress you with its grandeur. Instead, it will seduce you with its serenity.

Cooper Canyon Falls
Cooper Canyon Falls

To return, follow the trail back up the 745 feet of elevation to Buckhorn Campground. The start of this trail is at 6,400 feet and should be free of snow by the end of March. This is a good area to visit in the summer months. When lower elevation waterfalls loose their muster, Cooper Canyon Falls still has a steady flow.

If you are staying at Buckhorn and would like to hike uphill to vast views instead of downhill to the waterfall, consider the trail to Mount Waterman, which starts across the Angeles Crest Highway from the campground.

No permit is needed to hike to Cooper Canyon Falls. Dogs are welcome on the trail, but bikes may find it challenging. A fee is charged to stay overnight at Buckhorn Campground. Alternatively, a National Forest Adventure Pass may be required to park at the trailhead within the campground.

To get to the trailhead: From the 210 Freeway in La Cañada Flintridge, head northeast on Angeles Crest Highway (CA 2) for 35 miles. Pass the Mount Waterman Ski Area and turn left into Buckhorn Campground. Drive through the campground for 0.4 miles following signs for the day-use area. Be sure to display an adventure pass before starting down the Buckhart Trail.

Trailhead address: Angeles Crest Highway, San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, Pearblossom, CA 93553
Trailhead coordinates: 34.3475, -117.9110 (34° 20′ 51″N 117° 54′ 39.6″W)

Elevation Profile
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Trail Map

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These photos were taken in June of 2009, prior to the Station Fire, which closed the trail for a year and a half. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Mount Waterman hike Mount Waterman
The 5.5 to 6 miler can be completed as an out and back hike or a loop, traveling through a pine forest to a round summit.
Twin Peaks Trail Twin Peaks & Mount Waterman
This 11.65-mile hike extends the loop over Mount Waterman by dropping across a saddle and ascending Twin Peaks, a panoramic summit in the center of the San Gabriel Mountains.
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Mount Hillyer Mount Hillyer
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Mount Baden Powell hike Mount Baden-Powell
This 8.25-mile round trip hike ascends 2,834 feet to one of the tallest summits in the San Gabriel Mountains and a monument to Lord Baden-Powell, a BSA icon and the founder of the Scout Movement.
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14 Comments on Cooper Canyon Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains

  1. mune wrote:

    Is Buckhorn campground open to public now? I called clear creek station but no one picked up the phone.

    Does anybody know?

    • Rachel wrote:

      Its closed still we were there a week ago.half the crestline trail is closed. It was difficult to find the new extended reroute to the falls but it possible if u get there early enough. Its now around a 5 mile round trip hike.

  2. […] is a bit difficult, but you should be fine finding it if you follow these directions precisely:  Be sure you pay $5 for an Adventure Pass on your way into the park otherwise you will get a […]

  3. Betty Wagner wrote:

    Is horse bare riding allowed?

  4. Tiffany wrote:

    Has anyone been here recently? I am planning a camping trip for next weekend and I’ve been researching good hiking trails, maybe with waterfalls/rivers/etc if possible. Is this trail still open and is there still a waterfall?

    • Leslie wrote:

      Yes I just completed this trail yesterday. Took us about 2 hours including a short detour left to “Cooper Canyon Trail” towards the Cooper Canyon Trail camp. Instead stay straight on the Burkhart Trail to reach the falls.

      Leslie's ratings for this hike: Leslie gives a rating of 4Leslie gives a rating of 4Leslie gives a rating of 4Leslie gives a rating of 4Leslie gives a rating of 4
  5. Mark Jones wrote:

    Anyone know if any water remains in the falls/pond? Thanks

  6. TonyRasmussen wrote:

    I want to backpack in to coopers trail camp and see the waterfall. i would like the hike out the next day to be easier. which trailhead should I enter from? cloudburst or buckhorn? Can you park overnight for free at either? what is the mileage to campground and falls from cloudburst? is the elevation increase very much? any answers would be extremely helpful. Thank you.

  7. Luis Lopez wrote:

    hello there, i want to go with my kids this Sunday. where do i purchase the adventure pass?
    Please let me know, thank you…..

  8. […] Cooper Canyon Falls. November 15, 2015. […]

  9. Andrew wrote:

    I’m planning a trip out to the falls tomorrow and wanted to know if there is anything to watch out for to get there(splits in the trail, hard climbs, ect.)

    Any help is much appreciated!

  10. Michael wrote:

    Just hiked the trail to the waterfalls from the campground yesterday, and there are no trail issues other than the rope at the falls is covered in bees.

  11. Michelle wrote:

    I am going hiking with my kids tomorrow, where do we start the hike to get to the cooper falls?