Eaton Canyon Falls Pasadena Waterfall hike San Gabriel Mountains

The forty-foot tall Eaton Canyon Falls fills the amphitheater at the top of Eaton Canyon Trail, tumbling into a wide pool that you can rest alongside or wade in. The waist-deep water is so refreshing, you are likely to see hikers in bathing suits on a warm day. The trail to Eaton Canyon Falls can be summed up this way: 1.1 miles of wide flat dirt trail that can feel uneventful, followed by 0.65 miles of single track up a narrow canyon that is adventurous and fun (forming a 3.5 mile round trip hike with 375 feet of elevation gain).

The trail starts in Eaton Canyon Nature Area, a place you might go to walk your dog or push around a stroller with the big serious wheels. The easy path draws many visitors to the park for just that purpose.

Follow Eaton Canyon Trail north along a typically dry creek bed, Eaton Wash. You’ll pass a few shady thickets and plenty of sun along the way.

The trail crosses Eaton Wash after 0.2 miles and turns left below a canopy of trees.

At 0.55 miles from the start, come to a junction with the Horse Trail and stay to the left to continue up Eaton Canyon Trail. Horse Trail (also known as Walnut Canyon Trail) heads up the side of the canyon to the east, reaching Mount Wilson Toll Road (a toll-less hiking trail) after 0.6 miles.

When you’ve hiked 1.1 miles up Eaton Canyon Trail, you will come to another marked junction. Just below a white concrete bridge on Mount Wilson Toll Road, you will hit a split. The trail to the right connects to Mount Wilson Toll Road, a wide dirt hiking trail that runs all the way to the summit of Mount Wilson. The trail also reaches Henninger Flats, a scenic perch covered in pine trees with a visitor information center, campground, lookout tower, and tree nursery operated by the Los Angeles County Fire Department. To continue to Eaton Canyon Falls, stay to the left, following an arrow for the waterfall. Pass below the bridge to enter the San Gabriel Mountains.

Once you pass beneath the bridge, the hike changes drastically. You are suddenly hiking up a canyon, crossing from bank to bank up a winding creek. Be especially careful on this section of the trail, which crosses rugged terrain. This enjoyable stretch is over far too quickly as the falls are just 0.6 miles past the bridge.

Eaton Canyon
Eaton Canyon Falls

Eaton Eaton Canyon comes around a bend to the left and hits the back of the canyon, where Eaton Falls makes a 40-foot single drop into a wide shallow pool. Have a seat on a boulder or a log and admire the waterfall. You can also pop off your boots and wade into the water to get a little closer.

Continuing above Eaton Canyon Falls is not advised, so turn around at the waterfall for 3.5 mile round trip hike with 375 feet of elevation gain.

Eaton Canyon Falls is well marked and easy to follow. Along with a powerful waterfall, spring brings a bountiful bloom to the park, filling the park with fern leaf phacelia, chia, and other flowers.

Dogs are welcome in Eaton Canyon Park and on Eaton Canyon Trail to the waterfall. No fee or permit is required to visit Eaton Canyon Falls, so get out and enjoy!

Sunflowers Eaton Canyon
Sunflowers along Eaton Canyon Trail

To get to the trailhead: Take the Altadena exit off the 210 Freeway in Pasadena. Head north on Altadena Drive. The Eaton Canyon Nature Area is a couple miles up the road on the right past New York Drive. Pull into the park, leave your vehicle in the lot by the nature center and start hiking north.

Trailhead address: 1750 North Altadena Drive, Pasadena, CA 91107
Trailhead coordinates: 34.177202, -118.096485 (34° 10′ 37.92″N 118° 05′ 47.34″W)

Trail Map
View San Gabriel Mountains in a larger map
Elevation Profile
Click or hover over any spot on this elevation profile to see the distance from the start and elevation above sea level at that location, which will be highlighted on the map.

You may also view a regional map of surrounding Los Angeles trails and campgrounds.


Eaton Canyon TrailEaton Canyon Mount Wilson Toll RoadEaton CanyonEaton Canyon FallsEaton Canyon FallsEaton Canyon FallsEaton Canyon FallsEaton Canyon FallsEaton Canyon FallsEaton Canyon FallsEaton Canyon SunflowersEaton Canyon SunflowersEaton Canyon Chia WildflowersEaton Canyon FlowersYellow Wallflower WildflowerLupines WildflowerFern leaf phacelia WildflowerFern leaf phacelia Wildflower

These photos were taken in April of 2009. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Henninger Flats hikeHenninger Flats via Mount Wilson Toll Road
This 6-mile round trip hike ascends 1,325 feet to a trail camp, tree nursery, lookout tower, and visitor center on a landing in the San Gabriel Mountains operated by the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The hike can easily be extended to 8.7 miles by exploring a loop above Henninger Flats.
santa anita canyonSanta Anita Canyon Loop
This 9.5-mile loop visits two peaceful creeks in sylvan canyons, passing a 60-foot waterfall and plenty of beautiful wilderness.
Sturtevant Falls HikeSturtevant Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains
This 3.25-mile hike visits a 60-foot waterfall and a lush cottage-lined canyon.
Mount Waterman hikeMount 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. Add six miles to the hike by dropping across a saddle and climbing to the summit of Twin Peaks.
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This 3-mile hike leaves from Buckhorn Campground and visits a short waterfall in an enchanting glen of tall pines.
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This 6-mile hike from Millard Campground leads past Millard Falls to an old gold mine.
Rubio Canyon Trail Los AngelesRubio Canyon Trail
This 1.3-mile round trip hike ventures into a rustic canyon to a double waterfall.
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Explore other destinations in the range.
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29 Comments on Eaton Canyon Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains

  1. Jeff Parkhurst says:

    would it be good to go here around the first week of oct?? or dangerous? any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  2. I hiked this on a Saturday during the summer and it was incredibly packed. Although that was annoying, it was a testament to how beautiful the trail is. Also, bring a pair of shoes you can get wet, or a pair of sandals so you can ford the river fifteen times without a lot of waiting.

  3. Brendan Cartwright says:

    This was a beautiful, scenic hike that started easy and got more rugged as we neared the waterfall. There was plenty of running water in the end of June, but there were way too many people to truly enjoy the beauty of the hike. When we reached the waterfall, there were at least 200 people crowding around it. Be careful crossing the stream, those rocks can be slippery!

  4. It is a lovely hike but I would like to check it out during the week instead of the weekend. It was incredibly busy here today, Sunday. It was still nice but at the actual falls there was 150 people which was really too may. (People were littering. I picked up what I saw.) It is so lovely and cool as soon as you reach the wooded areas.

  5. Marisa says:

    I hiked this trail over the weekend and LOVED it. It wasn’t too crowded, but the creek was pretty dried up because it’s the middle of August. Lots of smaller trails off the main trail you can check out, too! Would love to do this again in the autumn and spring when there’s more water.

    You can check out some pics and a full review on my trip here:

  6. Rene says:

    Hey folks – Eaton Canyon is beautiful, but *please* go only on the marked trails. There is *no* safe trail to the second waterfall, and every year, folks die trying to get there. Most recently, a 17-year-old girl fell and died. Enjoy the canyon, but stay alive! If nothing else, think what pulling your mangled corpse out of the canyon will do to the rescue crews,

  7. Kim says:

    There is no maintained trail to this waterfall on Forest Service Land. The trails are user created and have become very dangerous due to people climbing the unstable rock. People come to this area unprepared and with little thought for safety causing multiple rescues each week and 8 fatalities in the last three years. Please take this hike off your list.

    • Kristin says:

      I think you are thinking about the upper falls hike, which is indeed very dangerous. This lower falls hike is relatively easy and beautiful (though very crowded on the weekends).

  8. Ruby Theophile says:

    I am a participant in a 12 week exercise program for pre-diabetics conducted by the kinesiology dept. of Cal. State Northridge. We are in the 11 week and the program has been granted for an extension. Most of the exercise takes place inside, with the exception of walks, jogs,etc. outside on the facility premises. Recently we went on a 6 6mi. hike in Echo Canyon. We are looking for other exercises to do outside the classroom that would be in keeping with the physical fitness goals of the program. In past years I’ve gone on day hikes in the Angeles Forest conducted by the Forest Rangers and Sierra Club. Does anyone know if these day hikes are stll being done?

  9. Julez says:

    Will there still be a lot of people around this time of year (MARCH)? And is the waterfall still running? I’m planning to go here for Spring break.

  10. stephswilliams says:

    They have done a lot with this trail and looks a lot better than it did a year or so ago with the graffiti and rundown facilities. The trail IS rocky, but definitely manageable for someone with good health, balance and proper foot ware. We walked it just today after the rain last night and witnessed several small rock slides, so do be careful and keep your eyes and ears open.

    The best time to go is during the week between 7:30-10:00AM. Any later and you start to run into crowds. I would never do this hike on the weekend, the trail is too crowded and not enjoyable once you get to the falls (which become a swimming hole/hang out area).

    If you must go on a weekend, I recommend going right at sunrise or at 8AM at the very latest to enjoy a quieter hike.

  11. FredChung says:

    Are the falls running now (June)?

    • Tami says:

      Yes, I was there about 2 weeks ago and there was plenty of water at the falls and people rock climbing down the face of the falls.

  12. Larry says:

    was there June 28, to many people, litter all over. people just don’t care.

  13. Richard says:

    Is it safe walking to the 1st waterfall? I know going up the 2nd is very dangerous. Any comments? Thanks.

  14. Irene says:

    Hi I wanted to visit and was wondering if anyone has taken a child…my daughter is 7 and just wanted to know if it was safe enough for her?

  15. Emira says:

    where does Eaton Canyon begins, starting from San Fernando Valley

  16. john gatturna says:

    What is difficulty and length of this hike?

  17. Maria Hauser says:

    Please could you tell me how long of a hike is from the parking lot to Eaton Falls? thank you

  18. Cass says:

    I just went out there Yesterday (Saturday). It was packed. I am a first time hiker and it was not to difficult. I would say its about 3 miles round-trip. And yes, it is safe for your children if supervised. There was many children hiking with their parents.

  19. Ambar says:

    Just did Eaton Canyon today. Boy, was it packed! Kids, Grannies and everyone in between. Still, it’s a pleasant and easy hike, the falls had some water and there is plenty of shade still. I suspect it will be brown and dry within a month or so, but enjoy it while you can!

  20. Shirah says:

    I want to make sure the hike to the waterfall is still open. Also, is there water? And, any ideas how crowded it will be on Mother’s Day? Thanks.

  21. frank says:

    CAn you fish?

  22. Kellie says:

    I would not recommend this hike to anyone. The trail was PACKED there were hundreds of people. It was extremely dirty and the entire trail smelled of dog poop. I will never go back here.

  23. […] Rundown for the Eaton Canyon Trail […]

  24. Ben Jackson says:

    I was there today. I believe they have CLOSED the upper falls due to injuries and deaths. There’s a whole bunch of signs saying as much. The lower falls are nothing like the pictures on this page. Just basically a creek with a bit of running water. It’s a nice enough hike and some nice water under the bridge, but this is NOT the falls you think it is from this entry.

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