Eaton Canyon Falls

Angeles National Forest / Pasadena / Altadena, California, USA

About Eaton Canyon Falls


Hiking Distance: 3 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 90 minutes

Date first visited: 2002-02-24
Date last visited: 2016-12-10

Waterfall Latitude: 34.19657
Waterfall Longitude: -118.10216

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 once we’ve made an October visit following Los Angeles’ worst fire during yet another prolonged period of low-rain Winters and very hot Summers.

Eaton_Canyon_025_02042012 - Eaton Canyon Falls is very popular
Eaton Canyon Falls is very popular

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.

Eaton_Canyon_Falls_025_12102016 - There always seems to be a constant graffiti problem at the Eaton Canyon Falls, which makes me wonder if the City of Altadena should implement a fee system to curb it and keep maintenance costs manageable
There always seems to be a constant graffiti problem at the Eaton Canyon Falls, which makes me wonder if the City of Altadena should implement a fee system to curb it and keep maintenance costs manageable

Still, I have to believe it’s an ongoing and unpleasant job.

It’s too bad some immature gangsters have to exhibit their machismo tendencies and do their best to ruin things for everyone else.

Sometimes I wonder if they should collect park fees to ensure that there’s funding to maintain the trails while limiting the urban blight problem.

To further illustrate this urban blight battle, on our third trip in October of 2009, we saw some of the graffiti starting showing up again (at least it wasn’t as bad as it was on our first trip though).

The Hike to Eaton Canyon Falls

Eaton_Canyon_Falls_006_12102016 - Julie and Tahia crossing the usually-dry Eaton Canyon Wash on the way to the east bank where the Eaton Canyon Falls Trail continues
Julie and Tahia crossing the usually-dry Eaton Canyon Wash on the way to the east bank where the Eaton Canyon Falls Trail continues

From the well-signed Eaton Canyon Nature Center parking area, the trail follows an open shrub area briefly crossing the usually dry wash.

On the other side of the wash, the trail then follows 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, where we followed a trail descending alongside the creek.

There was a separate path leading up to the bridge, which would allow some locals in the know to access the trail from some residences (but that’s kind of cheating and taking away from the experience, we think).

Eaton_Canyon_Falls_14_041_04062014 - Julie and Tahia following the Eaton Canyon Falls Trail as it pretty much followed the east bank of the dry Eaton Canyon Wash and approached the mouth of the canyon. Notice the bridge at the base of the mountains up ahead
Julie and Tahia following the Eaton Canyon Falls Trail as it pretty much followed the east bank of the dry Eaton Canyon Wash and approached the mouth of the canyon. Notice the bridge at the base of the mountains up ahead

Once within the shady confines of the narrowing canyon walls, the Eaton Canyon Falls Trail pretty much follows the stream.

Throughout the hike, the wash had been mostly dry, but within Eaton Canyon, it seemed like the stream suddenly made an appearance and would persist the rest of the way up to the falls.

Anyways, 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.

Eaton_Canyon_016_02042012 - Julie trying to negotiate one of a handful of stream crossings within Eaton Canyon, where brought along hiking sticks and wore sturdy boots (since we were carrying precious cargo)
Julie trying to negotiate one of a handful of stream crossings within Eaton Canyon, where brought along hiking sticks and wore sturdy boots (since we were carrying precious cargo)

But if you’re unsure about your dexterity and balance, then a hiking stick as well as Gore-tex hiking boots 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).

Eaton_Canyon_048_02042012 - Direct view across the plunge pool at the Eaton Canyon Falls
Direct view across the plunge pool at the Eaton Canyon Falls

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.

Additional Waterfalls above Eaton Canyon Falls

Finally, we’ve had website visitors and contributors making us aware that there were more waterfalls further upstream of the main Eaton Canyon Falls.

Unfortunately, the US Forest Service prohibit going up there because of a combination of steep terrain, erosion, and undefined trails.

Eaton_Canyon_Falls_14_074_04062014 - On one of our excursions to Eaton Canyon Falls, the canyon got loud as a chopper was circling the canyon apparently attempting a dangerous rescue within the confines of Eaton Canyon
On one of our excursions to Eaton Canyon Falls, the canyon got loud as a chopper was circling the canyon apparently attempting a dangerous rescue within the confines of Eaton Canyon

Almost all of the deaths and rescues that have occurred were as a result of people who have attempted to pursue these upper waterfalls.

Thus, we can’t vouch for going up there since we’ve never tried it, and we’re probably not going to either.

Authorities

Eaton Canyon Falls is technically in the Angeles National Forest near Altadena in Los Angeles County, California. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service, but the trailhead resides in the Eaton Canyon Nature County Park. For information or inquiries about this area as well as current conditions, visit the Eaton Canyon Natural Area website or the USDA Forest Service website.

Eaton_Canyon_Falls_002_01062018 - Lately we've gotten some friends into waterfalling in our local mountains, and so she would bring her kids along and Tahia would have play dates with them at the Eaton Canyon Falls
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_001_12102016 - Starting the hike to Eaton Canyon Falls from the end of the long parking lot for the Eaton Canyon County Park and Nature Center. This photo and the next series of photos were taken in December 2016
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_003_12102016 - Julie and Tahia walking past a picnic area at the very start of the Eaton Canyon Falls hike
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_010_12102016 - After Julie and Tahia crossed the dry Eaton Canyon Wash, they then went up the Eaton Canyon Falls Trail
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_014_12102016 - Context of Julie and Tahia hiking along the well-used Eaton Canyon Falls Trail, which followed along the east bank of the wide and dry Eaton Canyon Wash
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_017_12102016 - The Eaton Canyon Falls Trail approaches the mouth of Eaton Canyon, which was right where the foot of the mountains up ahead were
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_019_12102016 - Julie and Tahia continuing to hike on the sandy surface of the Eaton Canyon Falls Trail en route to the mouth of Eaton Canyon
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_021_12102016 - A wise sign that we noticed along the Eaton Canyon Falls Trail
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_024_12102016 - Tahia pointing out some unsightly graffiti as we were passing benath the bridge at the mouth of Eaton Canyon
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_031_12102016 - Julie and Tahia walking deeper into the depths of Eaton Canyon in pursuit of the Eaton Canyon Falls
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_036_12102016 - Tahia making her way amongst the boulders strewn around the Eaton Canyon floor as we continued pursuing the Eaton Canyon Falls
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_041_12102016 - This was the flow of Eaton Canyon Falls in December 2016, which was a bit on the low side as the Winter rains haven't really started yet
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_052_12102016 - Eaton Canyon Falls was still a very popular hike even though we actually did our December 2016 hike in the afternoon near the onset of darkness
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_14_004_04062014 - We learned on one particular busy weekend in April 2014 that if finding parking at the main parking lot at Eaton Canyon County Park was a lost cause, there might be overflow parking. This barricade was the one-way exit from this overflow lot.
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_14_010_04062014 - Looking across a dry Eaton Canyon Wash near the main parking lot as we inadvertently pursued a trail alongside that parking lot from the spillover lot. This photo and the next several photos came from our April 2014 visit
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_14_019_04062014 - Julie and Tahia back at the familiar Eaton Canyon Falls Trailhead at the end of the main parking lot
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_14_024_04062014 - Julie and Tahia hiking past some picnic tables nearby the Eaton Canyon Falls Trailhead during our April 2014 visit
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_14_025_04062014 - Tahia pointing out a sign warning of the presence of both poison oak and rattlesnakes at Eaton Canyon
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_14_026_04062014 - 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 Trail
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_14_027_04062014 - Julie and Tahia traversing the Eaton Canyon Wash en route to the Eaton Canyon Falls
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_14_036_04062014 - Julie and Tahia past the Eaton Canyon Wash and now on the very busy and very familiar trail up to the Eaton Canyon Falls
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_14_044_04062014 - Context of that wise sign along the Eaton Canyon Falls Trail about a half-mile before the waterfall
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_14_046_04062014 - Perhaps this shot might give you an idea of how busy the Eaton Canyon Trail can get on the weekends
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_14_050_04062014 - Indeed, it can get pretty busy at the Eaton Canyon Falls
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_14_076_04062014 - Julie returning to the picnic area and the alternate trail leading to the overflow parking lot at Eaton Canyon County Park
Eaton_Canyon_004_02042012 - Julie and Tahia (riding mommy's back) hiking through the picnic and Nature Center vicinity of Eaton Canyon County Park during our February 2012 visit. This and the next several pictures came from this date.
Eaton_Canyon_005_02042012 - Julie and Tahia crossing the familiar Eaton Canyon Wash on our February 2012 visit to Eaton Canyon Falls
Eaton_Canyon_014_02042012 - Approaching the bridge at the end of the wash and the mouth of Eaton Canyon during our February 2012 visit
Eaton_Canyon_018_02042012 - One of a handful of stream crossings that Julie had to negotiate where the hiking sticks helped her balance, especially since we were carrying precious cargo on our February 2012 visit of Eaton Canyon
Eaton_Canyon_022_02042012 - Deep in the Eaton Canyon as we were surrounded by its steep walls
Eaton_Canyon_023_02042012 - Julie approaching the next creek crossing as we were getting closer to the Eaton Canon Falls on February 2012
Eaton_Canyon_034_02042012 - Focused look across the plunge pool at the Eaton Canyon Falls
Eaton_Canyon_041_02042012 - Another look back at the Eaton Canyon Falls in pretty decent flow in February 2012
Eaton_Canyon_086_02042012 - Contextual view of the Eaton Canyon Falls with some people chilling by the plunge pool and one daredevil who made his way underneath the boulder wedged above the waterfall during our February 2012 visit
Eaton_Canyon_027_03242012 - On our March 2012 visit of Eaton Canyon Falls, we noticed someone on horseback riding towards the mouth of Eaton Canyon
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_003_10172009 - Graffiti along the trail to Eaton Canyon Falls when I hiked with some co-workers back in October 2009
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_006_10172009 - This was Eaton Canyon Falls in pretty healthy flow even late in the season on October 2009
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_020_10172009 - Checking out a dog enjoying the plunge pool beneath Eaton Canyon Falls during our visit on October 2009
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_024_10172009 - A dog having a howling good time at the Eaton Canyon Falls during our visit on October 2009
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_004_12042005 - This was Eaton Canyon Falls when we saw it back in December 2005
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_001_scanned_02242002 - Approaching Eaton Canyon Falls in 2002, when we first went here (and it was far less busier)
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_002_scanned_02242002 - Another look at the Eaton Canyon Falls back in February in 2002. Notice how few people were around the waterfall back then!
Eaton_Canyon_Falls_004_scanned_02242002 - Direct view of Eaton Canyon Falls from back in February 2002

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Eaton Canyon Falls was in the suburb of Altadena, which itself was just north of Pasadena (also further north of downtown Los Angeles).

We generally make the approach from the east at the I-605/I-210 interchange near Duarte and Monrovia.

Eaton_Canyon_002_02042012 - Looking towards the end of the long parking lot for the Eaton Canyon Nature Center and the Eaton Canyon County Park
Looking towards the end of the long parking lot for the Eaton Canyon Nature Center and the Eaton Canyon County Park

So this is how we’re describing the directions.

We’d drive west along the 210 Freeway, and then we looked for the Sierra Madre exit (it would be Altadena Drive exit if you’re headed east).

Once on the exit, we continued driving straight until we were able to turn right onto Altadena Drive.

We then drove north on Altadena Drive about 1.6 miles to the Eaton Canyon County Park, which was on the right.

Eaton_Canyon_Falls_14_001_04062014 - This was the unpaved overflow parking lot at the Eaton Canyon County Park, which I'd imagine would be open on weekends
This was the unpaved overflow parking lot at the Eaton Canyon County Park, which I’d imagine would be open on weekends

Note that since Eaton Canyon Falls is a very popular spot, especially on the weekends, they sometimes open up an overflow parking area in an unpaved lot, which has a separate one-way exit.

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


Right to left sweep from within the crowd to the falls itself as it ends showing some people who have somehow made it to the top. This shows how resilient the falls are even in the dry Winter of 2012


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


Bottom up sweep of the falls from an angle


Bottom up sweep of the falls while looking directly at it

Tagged with: pasadena, altadena, san gabriel, angeles national forest, los angeles, california, southern california, waterfall



Visitor Comments:

Hot (Eaton Canyon Falls) April 25, 2013 2:46 pm by Isabel Luna - 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. ...Read More
A natural wonder May 12, 2010 6:34 am by T and M - 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 to everyone. Unlike other reviews, we did not find any trash nor graffiti. Pictures do not do justice to the beauty. Go and see for yourself!! ...Read More

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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Only 1 of 7 or 8 (Eaton Canyon Fall) February 16, 2012 7:21 am by Paul - 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 ago there were some old wooden stairs that went 3/4 up the side of the canyon. At the top of the stairs was a… ...Read More
Eaton Fall – Taller than 30 feet June 22, 2011 1:59 am by Patrick - 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 feet, I believe. Additionally, there are many more falls above Eaton Fall. (I have included two pictures of the first one above it.) There were… ...Read More
Trash and Water July 26, 2009 6:58 am by Isabel Lamas - 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 lead to waterfalls and such. We started our hike late which made the ordeal a little more challenging due to the hot weather. The trail takes you… ...Read More
Amazing Experience (Eaton Canyon Falls) July 17, 2009 2:44 am by _Anonymous12 - 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 and a water snake. It was the most amazing feeling to swim in clear water and to stare up at this beautiful waterfall. Then to… ...Read More
Good experience, Decent Falls!!! April 2, 2009 8:03 pm by Kris - 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 its base. The trail is pretty good and the small streams that you pass through while hiking leaves a pleasant feeling. A group of people… ...Read More
A Wet Day (Eaton Canyon Falls) August 4, 2008 7:06 am by Rafique Sheikh - 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 running stream all the way to Eaton Canyon Falls which were flowing well. Because of kids we chose to start at the Midwick drive trail which… ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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