The forty-foot waterfall in Eaton Canyon fills an 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 hike 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 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!
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: 34.1772, -118.09649 (34° 10′ 37.9″N 118° 05′ 47.4″W)
You may also view a regional map of surrounding Los Angeles trails and campgrounds.
|Henninger 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 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 in the San Gabriel Mountains |
This 3.25-mile hike visits a 60-foot waterfall and a lush cottage-lined canyon.
|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. Add six miles to the hike by dropping across a saddle and climbing to the summit of Twin Peaks.
|Cooper Canyon Falls |
This 3-mile hike leaves from Buckhorn Campground and visits a short waterfall in an enchanting glen of tall pines.
|Dawn Mine |
This 6-mile hike from Millard Campground leads past Millard Falls to an old gold mine.
|Rubio Canyon Trail |
This 1.3-mile round trip hike ventures into a rustic canyon to a double waterfall.
|More trails in the San Gabriel Mountains |
Explore other destinations in the range.
|Fish Canyon Falls |
This 4.8-mile round trip hike leaves from an active rock quarry and progresses up a beautiful canyon to a mesmerizing multi-tiered waterfall.
|Millard Falls |
This one mile hike visits a 50-foot waterfall up one of the most scenic canyons in the range.
|Monrovia Falls |
This 1.6-mile to 3-mile hike in Monrovia Canyon Park follows an enchanting canyon up to the base of the 30-foot waterfall.
|San Antonio Falls |
This 1.4-mile hike visits a multi-tier waterfall along the trail to Mount Baldy.
|Escondido Falls |
This 3.8-mile out and back hike visits a 200-foot waterfall that is split into two tiers. The upper tier is 150 feet tall and stunning after a rainstorm.
|Paradise Falls |
This 40-foot waterfall is located within Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks and is reachable via several trails.
|More waterfalls around Los Angeles |
Explore other waterfalls in the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains.