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.
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.
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 view the trail and get directions:
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