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 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.

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Eaton Canyon Falls is very popular

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).

The Hike to Eaton Canyon Falls

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.

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Julie trying to negotiate one of a handful of stream crossings within Eaton Canyon

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.

Authorities

Eaton Canyon Falls is technically in the Angeles National Forest, 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.

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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. So this is how we’re describing the directions.

Driving west along the 210 Freeway, 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.

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

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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