Eaton Canyon Falls

Angeles National Forest / Pasadena / Altadena / Los Angeles County, California, USA

Rating: 2     Difficulty: 2.5
Eaton Canyon Falls
Eaton Canyon Falls is a pleasant rare year-round waterfall dropping some 30ft or so with a rock wedged right at its brink.

We can vouch for the year-round characteristic of this waterfall because we've made an October visit here following Los Angeles' worst fire during yet another prolonged period of low-rain Winters and very hot Summers. So that's saying something about how special this waterfall is, and in fact, we even included it in our Southern California Top 10 Waterfalls List. However, being close to Pasadena it is an immensely popular local attraction and thus it also has a history of suffering from urban blight.

Such was the case when Julie and I first visited this waterfall way back in 2001. There was graffiti on several rocks along the trail to the falls and even one on that rock wedged at the top of the falls. On a subsequent trip several years later, the caretakers of the area did a great job sandblasting and painting over the graffiti. Still, I reckon it's an ongoing and unpleasant job, and it's too bad some immature gangsters have to exhibit their machismo tendencies and do their best to ruin things for everyone else. Our third trip in October of 2009 illustrated this fact when some of the graffiti started showing up again (at least it wasn't as bad as it was on our first trip though).

From the well-signed Eaton Canyon Nature Center parking area, the trail follows an open shrub area briefly crossing the usually dry wash before following the east bank up into the mouth of the gorge for the first 3/4-mile or so. Eventually, the trail and wash narrows past a bridge (this bridge allows some locals in the know to reduce the hike by starting closer to the canyon than at the Nature Center, but that's kind of cheating and taking away from the experience, we think).

At this point, the trail follows the stream (that seemingly suddenly appears) within the mostly shady canyon. The trail crosses this stream a handful of times. Usually, you can get through them without getting your feet wet by a little bit of nifty rock hopping. But if you're unsure about your dexterity and balance, then a hiking stick might help you out in those sections.

In addition to the stream crossings, there may be a few more minor obstacles involving a mini-climb here or there along with unforeseen detours. Eventually after about a half-mile or so into the canyon, the trail ends right before the Eaton Canyon Falls. The overall length of the trail is about 1.5 miles each way (or 3 miles round trip; assuming you didn't take the shortcut).

The falls is usually very popular on the weekends so it's not often you have this place to yourself. Still, it's a great introductory hike to one of Los Angeles County's more scenic spots, and I'm sure it'll draw a few pleasantly surprised reactions from those who haven't seen waterfalls in the local area before.

Directions: To visit this waterfall, look for the Altadena Drive exit (if you're headed east) or the Sierra Madre exit (if you're headed west) along the 210 Freeway. Then, drive north on Altadena Drive about 1.6 miles to the Eaton Canyon County Park, which is on the right.




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PHOTO JOURNAL
Unusual direct view of Eaton Canyon Falls in February 2012
We learned on one particular busy weekend that if finding parking at the main car park was a lost cause, there might be overflow parkingWe learned on one particular busy weekend that if finding parking at the main car park was a lost cause, there might be overflow parking

Looking across a dry wash near the main car parkLooking across a dry wash near the main car park

The busy trailheadThe busy trailhead

Just past the end of the parking lot and the start of the trail, this sign pretty much summed up the possible hazards encountered on the Eaton Canyon Falls TrailJust past the end of the parking lot and the start of the trail, this sign pretty much summed up the possible hazards encountered on the trail

Approaching the bridge at the end of the wash and the mouth of the canyonApproaching the bridge at the end of the wash and the mouth of the canyon

One of a handful of stream crossingsOne of a handful of stream crossings; hiking sticks recommended if you have a baby in tow

Graffiti along the trailGraffiti along the trail

Deep in the canyonDeep in the canyon

It can get pretty busy hereIt can get pretty busy here

Contextual view of the fallsContextual view of the falls (in February 2012)

A dog having a howling good time at the fallsA dog having a howling good time at the Eaton Canyon Falls

Approaching Eaton Canyon Falls in 2001Taking a trip down memory lane. Approaching the falls in 2001.

On one of our excursions to Eaton Canyon Falls, the canyon got loud as a rescue chopper was circling the canyon apparently trying to help out someone that was either stuck or overcome by the heatOn one of our excursions to Eaton Canyon Falls, the canyon got loud as a rescue chopper was circling the canyon apparently trying to help out someone that was either stuck or overcome by the heat


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS

Having fun checking out the dog enjoying a swim at the base of the falls


Left to right sweep of the falls starting from the crowd relaxing at the falls to the canyon above the falls itself as seen from the furthest end of the amphitheater


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MAP OF THE FALLS

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TRIP REPORTS
For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES



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NEARBY WATERFALLS


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Only 1 of 7 or 8 (Eaton Canyon Fall) 
I used to hike Eaton Canyon in the early 70's. The falls you are showing here is only one of seven or eight. Don't know if it's still there but years …

Trash and Water 
We have decided to start hiking this Summer to embrace nature and give us something to do. So we purchased a book which lists several hiking trails that …

A Wet Day (Eaton Canyon Falls) 
First, thanks for this cool website its nice to know about hidden gems in our backyard. We went on May 24th, 2008 and had the pleasure of seeing a …

Hot (Eaton Canyon Falls) Not rated yet
I went there in October and when you go on there are so many tiny waterfalls but the big one is worth the hike. But go to Santa Monica waterfalls, too. …

Slippery and wet (Eaton Canyon Falls) Not rated yet
It was beautiful! The hike was easy outside of a few slips. Arriving @ the fall was well worth it. Breath taking. First time ever hearing about it. Can't …

Eaton Fall - Taller than 30 feet Not rated yet
Hi, I am certain that Eaton Fall is at least 50 feet based on my personal experience; and the guy who wrote "Trails of the Angeles" says it is 60 …

Eaton Canyon Falls Not rated yet
Nice Falls !!. Hike was easy . the last 1/2 mile to the falls is more difficult. Go in the morning cause it can be crowded.

A natural wonder Not rated yet
Our first trip to an actual waterfall. This was better than we expected. It is a challenging hike for beginners but so worth it. Definitely recommend it …

Amazing Experience (Eaton Canyon Falls) Not rated yet
We took our family on a hike to see Eaton Canyon Falls in June 2009. On the hike we saw many interesting animals like a blue tailed skink lizard, frogs …

Good experience, Decent Falls!!! Not rated yet
Eaton Canyon is pretty close to Los Angeles and is a great place to hike. It's a very good falls with a good hike for about 1.5-2 miles ending at …

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