Switzer Falls

Angeles National Forest / La Canada Flintridge / Los Angeles County, California, USA

Rating: 1.5     Difficulty: 2.5
Switzer Falls
Switzer Falls is a popular waterfall sitting deep in Arroyo Seco Canyon in the Angeles National Forest.

The first time we visited this falls was in February 2003 (which was supposed to be the height of our wet season), but it had been a dry Winter and ended up being a pretty disappointing experience. We came back nearly six years later when the falls were flowing pretty well (thanks to a wet February providing some relief to yet another dry Winter) and the experience was almost unrecognizably different!

The falls appeared to be a series of waterfalls tucked away in a rugged canyon. The upper falls seemed to be the main falls sliding some 70ft or so in height with a smaller tier right above it. It was difficult to get a good view of this part of the waterfall because foliage tended to obstruct our line of sight from the trail to the falls itself. Thus, we never really got a clean view of the falls (though it seemed the trees had grown more and obscured what was once a decent view of the upper tier). Since the terrain was dangerously rugged and steep, fences were erected to keep us from trying to scramble down for a better look.

So with that said, there was a lower falls further downstream which the day use trail ended at. This part was actually a pair of tiny tiers totaling some 20ft or 25ft. While we did see someone make it up past these lower falls (probably to get to the bottom of those upper waterfalls), it was still a rough and not-recommended scramble to scale the falls and do the sttream walking further upstream (unless you knew what you were doing, I suppose).

The hike to the falls was a fairly hilly 3.6 miles return. I understand that it that additional hiking might be required if the gate at the entrance was closed or the main parking lot was full (though fortunately, this didn't happen to us the two times we've come here).

Most of the up-and-down climbing occured in the last mile where the trail hugged the cliff and provided gorgeous views of the rugged San Gabriel Mountains wilderness. When the falls had healthy flow on our second visit here, we had numerous stream crossings (we counted at least over a half-dozen). With some nifty rock hopping, we were able to stay dry though Gore-tex boots and hiking sticks certainly helped our confidence and balance.

Conversely, when the falls were trickling on our first visit, I didn't recall there being any stream crossings that conspired to wet our socks.

Directions: You can drive to the car park at the Switzer Picnic Area off Hwy 2 (Angeles Crest Highway) barely a quarter-mile or so after the Clear Creek Station. The Clear Creek Station is about 9.5 miles from the Hwy 2 exit from the I-210.

If you didn't purchase an Adventure Pass prior to driving up here, they do sell some at that Clear Creek Station.




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PHOTO JOURNAL
Gorgeous canyon scenery at the crest of the Switzer Falls Trail
The car parkThe car park

Crossing over the footbridge to begin the hikeCrossing over the footbridge to begin the hike

Julie tries to keep her feet dry on this stream crossingJulie tries to keep her feet dry on this stream crossing, which was one of a handful of them

The trail meanders alongside the creek for a bitThe trail meanders alongside the creek for a bit

Julie surveys another stream crossingJulie surveys another stream crossing to see how best to keep her feet dry

Top down angled view of the Upper Switzer Falls through a small opening in the foliageTop down angled view of the Upper Switzer Falls through a small opening in the foliage.

Julie at the crest of the trail with a nice view of the canyonJulie at the crest of the trail with a nice view of the canyon. It's mostly downhill from here to the base of the lower waterfall.

Julie's now hiking and scrambling upstream towards the base of the lower waterfallJulie's now hiking and scrambling upstream towards the base of the lower waterfall

We noticed this old piece of machinery by the creekWe noticed this old piece of machinery by the creek. We're not sure if it has historical significance or if someone just left it here.

Another look at the lower drop of Switzer Falls.  It looked like at least one person used that fallen log to scale the falls and continue further upstream.Another look at the lower drop of Switzer Falls. It looked like at least one person used that fallen log to scale the falls and continue further upstream.

Top down view of Upper Switzer Falls when it was flowing fairly wellTop down view (on the way back to the car park) of Upper Switzer Falls when it was flowing fairly well.

Top down view of Upper Switzer Falls during a dry winterTop down view of the upper falls (what's left of it) during a dry winter in Feb 2002.

At the base of the lower falls when it wasn't flowing very wellAt the base of the lower Switzer Falls when it wasn't flowing very well back in Feb 2002.


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS

Slow and very deliberate sweep from the plunge pool to the blue sky


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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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