Etiwanda Falls

North Etiwanda Preserve / Rancho Cucamonga, California, USA

About Etiwanda Falls


Hiking Distance: 3 miles round trip (or over 5 miles round trip depending on parking situation)
Suggested Time: 2-3 hours (or over 4 hours depending on parking situation)

Date first visited: 2015-02-01
Date last visited: 2021-02-27

Waterfall Latitude: 34.18595
Waterfall Longitude: -117.52302

Waterfaller Newsletter

Get over the hump of the mid-week blues! Subscribe and get exclusive curated content delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.

Etiwanda Falls was one of those waterfalls that Julie and I had previously overlooked over the years even though it wasn’t far from places like Bonita Falls and San Antonio Falls.

However, we started to get tired of seeing the same local waterfalls over and over again, especially in light of the increased frequency of droughts in California due to Climate Change.

Etiwanda_Falls_137_02012015 - Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda Falls

Thus, it was about time that we finally resumed our search for local waterfalls we hadn’t done before, and that was when we pursued visiting this waterfall for the first time in early 2015.

Etiwanda Falls was actually a series of three drops with a cumulative height of about 50ft or so.

Each drop was probably 15ft, 10ft, and 25ft, respectively, from what I could tell though it was really the upper two drops that were the most visible of the lot.

However, waterfall attributes aside, the one thing that struck me about this waterfall excursion was that it was pretty much situated in a desert environment.

Etiwanda_Falls_153_02272021 - This tier of Etiwanda Falls could very well be the tallest of the lot
This tier of Etiwanda Falls could very well be the tallest of the lot

We noticed that there were a lot of new housing developments in and around Rancho Cucamonga (including around the trailhead for the falls), which conspired to conceal or make this desert environment a little less obvious.

Indeed, it was pretty clear that this area tended to see more heat waves and gusty Santa Ana winds than rainy days.

So it was one of those places that I would’ve least expected to encounter a waterfall (and a real popular one at that!).

Nevertheless, while the dimensions of this waterfall didn’t knock our socks off, I felt the real appeal of doing this hike had to do with more of the sights along the way.

Etiwanda_Falls_051_02012015 - Looking back at the dusty and hazy basin of the Inland Empire from the Etiwanda Falls Trail
Looking back at the dusty and hazy basin of the Inland Empire from the Etiwanda Falls Trail

Indeed, we enjoyed the sweeping views of the Riverside basin (smog haze notwithstanding) as well as the foothills fronting the San Bernardino Mountains.

Contrast Between Desert and Oasis

Further reinforcing the fact that we were indeed in the high deserts, we experienced an example of its extremes on our first visit in late January 2015.

That was when we were blasted with very strong Santa Ana winds that probably had gusts of around 50-70mph.

Such winds easily knocked down trees, made flying pebbles sting as they were kicked up and flung towards us, and made it hard for us to stand up straight.

N_Etiwanda_009_01242015 - Intense and gusty Santa Ana winds in late January 2015 adversely impacted our first attempt at hiking to Etiwanda Falls
Intense and gusty Santa Ana winds in late January 2015 adversely impacted our first attempt at hiking to Etiwanda Falls

Under such conditions, we aborted that first attempt to hike to Etiwanda Falls for fears that the power lines nearby might get knocked over.

Fortunately, our retry of this excursion a week later took place without the strong winds, and we also did this hike again 6 years later under some benign conditions preceding another wave of Santa Anas!

In any case, we were then exposed to the arid conditions while being beat down by temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s with little shade throughout the hike.

I can’t imagine how unbearable the hike would be later in the year when the temperatures could easily soar in the 90s or 100s.

Etiwanda_Falls_158_02012015 - Lots of people playing in the water further upstream from the Etiwanda Falls
Lots of people playing in the water further upstream from the Etiwanda Falls

So given how this environment contrasted with an oasis-like canyon containing a waterfall, perhaps it shouldn’t have been surprising that Etiwanda Falls was very popular.

In fact, I’d argue that it was more of a play waterfall where lots of people were playing in the cool water convergence of a side unnamed creek and East Etiwanda Creek just upstream of the falls itself.

As a result of this apparent paradox of a waterfall in a desert environment, seeing Etiwanda Falls perform meant timing a visit for the melting of snow accumulated in the San Bernardino Mountains.

If we’ve had a low precipitation Winter, then the waterfall may flow best in late January through February or March, but if we’ve had a heavy snowfall year, then I can foresee this waterfall flowing well into the brutally hot Summers here.

Hiking to Etiwanda Falls

Etiwanda_Falls_013_02012015 - Starting on the hike to Etiwanda Falls through the trailhead at the North Etiwanda Preserve in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains
Starting on the hike to Etiwanda Falls through the trailhead at the North Etiwanda Preserve in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains

The hike began from the designated parking lot for the North Etiwanda Preserve (see directions below) next to some seemingly newly-built homes.

From there, we then walked directly north past a wide gate at the far northern end of the unpaved parking lot and fire road (called Decliff Drive on Google Maps) running parallel with the power lines.

We then continued hiking on the somewhat rocky but slightly uphill Etiwanda Trail, which also seemed to be more like a fire road as it went past a large water tank, then continued to snake before some impressive foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains.

The impressive scenery helped to keep our minds off the hot and sweaty uphill nature of the hike as it was pretty much all unshaded and exposed to the sun.

Etiwanda_Falls_296_02012015 - Approaching a lookout shelter with interpretive signs at the North Etiwanda Preserve, whose access involved a separate trail that also paralleled the Etiwanda Falls Trail
Approaching a lookout shelter with interpretive signs at the North Etiwanda Preserve, whose access involved a separate trail that also paralleled the Etiwanda Falls Trail

We also made sure to stay on the main trail (very important when hiking with kids like we were) to minimize the threat of surprising a rattlesnake hiding in the thick desert shrubs on either side of its path.

A little before the quarter-mile post (elevation 2153ft), there was a turnoff on the left leading to a shelter that contained a bunch of interpretive signs (though most of them were defiled with graffiti).

We reached the next post at a half-mile (elevation 2247ft) from the trailhead after about 30-40 minutes into the hike.

I’m sure we could’ve gone faster than this, but the pace tended to be slower when hiking with kids, especially given the persistent elevation gain.

Etiwanda_Falls_073_02012015 - Deeper into the hike to Etiwanda Falls, the trail ascended into the undulating foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains
Deeper into the hike to Etiwanda Falls, the trail ascended into the undulating foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains

At about 0.6-mile from the trailhead, we then proceeded past a small signed pillar fronting an open gate just beyond an apparent four-way intersection.

And at that point, the trail narrowed a bit more while the slope of the ascent became noticeably steeper.

After another half-hour from the gate (or an hour from the trailhead), we then reached a yellow gate towards the top of this somewhat steeper ascending part of the trail.

The, the climb somewhat flattened out at this point, and I was able to peer over my shoulder for glimpses of the impressive views of the basin.

Etiwanda_Falls_083_02012015 - Looking back at a vista of Rancho Cucamonga from a lookout spot where there was graffiti that said 'Frank's Rock'
Looking back at a vista of Rancho Cucamonga from a lookout spot where there was graffiti that said ‘Frank’s Rock’

Less than five minutes after the yellow gate, there was a short spur trail leading to a vista point to better enjoy the views of the Inland Empire.

This spot had a rock with graffiti that said “Frank’s Rock” though I doubted whether that was really the official name or not (I didn’t see the same graffiti the next time I came here 6 years after my first visit).

Anyways, after a brief climb on the main trail, it then started to curve left just as we reached some kind of water contraption or weir.

Accessing the main section of Etiwanda Falls

Beyond the weir, the main trail veered to the left away from the contraption before bending back to the right as it made one last short climb to the end of the official Etiwanda Falls Trail.

Etiwanda_Falls_087_02012015 - The family making a final uphill push to reach the Etiwanda Falls
The family making a final uphill push to reach the Etiwanda Falls

Indeed, it was only at that point that the trail eventually started to disappear as it descended towards the East Etiwanda Creek, the stream responsible for Etiwanda Falls.

There were several scrambling paths leading to more frontal views of the uppermost tier of Etiwanda Falls (see photo at the top of this page).

But for all intents and purposes, the official trail pretty much led us to the brink of Etiwanda Falls.

The dozens of folks who had made it here were pretty much playing in the stream above the falls as the canyon here was wider and more spread out (likely due to the convergence of East Etiwanda Creek with another side stream its west).

Etiwanda_Falls_203_02012015 - The family checking out Etiwanda Falls from a distance
The family checking out Etiwanda Falls from a distance

In any case, the picture you see at the top of this page was merely the uppermost drop of Etiwanda Falls, which was probably about 15-20ft tall at best.

It was definitely the most accessible of the tiers of Etiwanda Falls as it was a short and a relatively simple scramble (just be careful) to get to that frontal view.

There was then a shorter drop a short distance downstream, but that one was harder to appreciate given how steep and precarious the viewing spots were.

In addition to the upper tiers of Etiwanda Falls, there was also a lowermost drop of Etiwanda Falls, which was definitely not safely visible nor accessible from this immediate area.

Etiwanda_Falls_236_02012015 - The mostly downhill hike back to the Inland Empire basin after having had our fill of the Etiwanda Falls
The mostly downhill hike back to the Inland Empire basin after having had our fill of the Etiwanda Falls

So when we had our fill of Etiwanda Falls and the nice convergence of streams further upstream of the main falls, we got to look forward to the all-downhill hike on the way back to the trailhead.

An added benefit of the return hike was that the impressive vistas of the Inland Empire (smog haze and all), which was pretty much consistently in front of us throughout the descent.

When we finally made it back at the trailhead, we had logged about 3 miles round trip, and we had spent roughly three hours away from the car.

Again, because we were hiking with a bigger party that included three kids, we took our time so conceivably, this entire hike could be done in around 2 hours at an unhurried pace.

Etiwanda_Falls_372_02272021 - Over the years, the parking and access situation had deteriorated though I suspect that this was mostly an issue of land management and priorities by the City of Rancho Cucamonga than it was an issue of unsustainable visitation
Over the years, the parking and access situation had deteriorated though I suspect that this was mostly an issue of land management and priorities by the City of Rancho Cucamonga than it was an issue of unsustainable visitation

Finally, there’s one caveat regarding the hiking distances and times mentioned on this page.

That caveat is that the the parking situation here can get intense, especially on the weekends, which I’ll get more into in the directions below.

Just realize that even though the Etiwanda Falls hike can be finished in 2-3 hours, the parking situation could make it such that we’d have to allocate at least 4-5 hours.

Unsanctioned Scramble to the lowermost of the Etiwanda Falls

Behind the water contraption or weir further down from the main Etiwanda Falls was a spur trail veering right, which looked to be an informal trail of use.

Etiwanda_Falls_085_02012015 - Some kind of water contraption where a steep scramble to the lowermost of the Etiwanda Falls started behind it
Some kind of water contraption where a steep scramble to the lowermost of the Etiwanda Falls started behind it

During our 2015 visit, there was no signage prohibiting pursuing these use trails, but on our 2021 visit, there were a handful of signs proclaiming that they were not public access trails urging people to keep out.

Anyways, at the end of this use-trail was also some kind of water gauge or manhole-sized door in the cliff, which pretty much cut off any further progress.

While I could hear the sounds of falling water from the Lower Etiwanda Falls nearby, I wasn’t able to see much of it due to the presence of overgrowth or lots of trees around the falls.

It took some time figuring it out, but I eventually found a spot near the start of the reinforced part of the ledge where it seemed reasonable to scramble down to the base of this elusive waterfall for a cleaner look at it.

Etiwanda_Falls_119_02272021 - The use-trail behind the weir eventually led to this reinforced ledge that ultimately ended at a vertical round manhole-sized door in a cliff. Lower Etiwanda Falls was in the dropoffs to the right of this ledge
The use-trail behind the weir eventually led to this reinforced ledge that ultimately ended at a vertical round manhole-sized door in a cliff. Lower Etiwanda Falls was in the dropoffs to the right of this ledge

While it maybe rather steep and full of risk to make it down to the base of the Lower Etiwanda Falls, I noticed a lot of graffiti that was all over the gorge below so people do indeed make it down here from time to time.

One thing I noticed regarding the size of the Lower Etiwanda Falls as compared to main Etiwanda Falls was that the lower waterfall’s width had considerably less volume than the main waterfall further upstream.

I suspect the reason for this is that the vertical manhole at the end of the reinforced ledge path might conceal some diversion infrastructure robbing the lower waterfall of some of East Etiwanda Creek’s flow.

Anyways, overall, this side detour took me on the order to 20 minutes or so, but now that I understood where to go, this side excursion could take even less time than what I’ve quoted here.

Authorities

Etiwanda Falls resides in the North Etiwanda Preserve in Rancho Cucamonga in San Bernardino County, California. It is administered by the San Bernardino County Special Districts Department. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Etiwanda_Falls_003_02272021 - Walking along this trail as I was making my way back up to the North Etiwanda Preserve after finding a rather distant parking spot around a mile from the sanctioned parking lot during our late February 2021 visit
Etiwanda_Falls_008_02272021 - Walking further up along Etiwanda Avenue in pursuit of the North Etiwanda Preserve to finally start the hike to Etiwanda Falls in late Feb 2021
Etiwanda_Falls_010_02272021 - Approaching the apparent 'overflow' parking space, but Rancho Cucamonga policy ended up ticketing all of these vehicles during our late February 2021 visit
Etiwanda_Falls_016_02272021 - Finally approaching the North Etiwanda Preserve parking lot on our late February 2021 visit
Etiwanda_Falls_019_02272021 - The family finally getting to start the gradual uphill hike up to the Etiwanda Falls during our late Feb 2021 visit
Etiwanda_Falls_020_02272021 - Looking back at the difficult parking situation from the Etiwanda Falls Trailhead during our late February 2021 excursion
Etiwanda_Falls_023_02272021 - Just like 6 years ago, the hike to Etiwanda Falls was wide open and unshaded. So this would be a very brutal hike as the mercury rises from Spring through Fall (and even some days in the Winter as Global Warming's effects continue to mess with our climate)
Etiwanda_Falls_025_02272021 - Scenic mountains and foothills kept things interesting in the early part of our late February 2021 hike to Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_031_02272021 - We were actually in the minority as most people visiting Etiwanda Falls on this late February 2021 day weren't wearing masks.  That said, I think the UV from the sun on this wide open shaded trail might have helped to mitigate the chances of spread
Etiwanda_Falls_051_02272021 - Looking ahead at where the Etiwanda Falls Trail started to climb a little more steeply than the gradual incline earlier on
Etiwanda_Falls_073_02272021 - Closer look at some of the wildflowers blooming alongside the Etiwanda Falls Trail during our late February 2021 hike, which attested to the fact that Winter was already over even though we're still technically in Winter
Etiwanda_Falls_083_02272021 - Once we got up to the apex of the moderate climb, the trail then started to level off behind this gate as the sounds of East Etiwanda Creek started to become audible in the canyon below during our late Feb 2021 hike
Etiwanda_Falls_113_02272021 - Context of urban blight still visible alongside the Etiwanda Falls Trail in late Feb 2021
Etiwanda_Falls_117_02272021 - Approaching the weir that might have diverted some of East Etiwanda Creek though I'm not sure what for
Etiwanda_Falls_118_02272021 - These signs used to not be here behind that weir. This use-trail eventually led to the Lower Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_120_02272021 - Closer look at the manhole-sized door at the end of the reinforced ledge just upslope of Lower Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_122_02272021 - Looking down at a steep but more reasonable scrambling path leading down to the base of Lower Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_123_02272021 - Looking down at the steepness of the terrain leading to the base of the Lower Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_124_02272021 - Almost down by the edge of East Etiwanda Creek where I could get a cleaner look at the Lower Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_149_02272021 - Finally a clean look at the Lower Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_134_02272021 - Lots of tagging around the Lower Etiwanda Falls provided evidence that people have definitely been here before
Etiwanda_Falls_141_02272021 - Semi-long exposure shot of the Lower Etiwanda Falls with some unfortunate urban blight next to it
Etiwanda_Falls_155_02272021 - Looking back up at the route that I took to climb down to the base of Lower Etiwanda Falls. Notice the graffiti in the area
Etiwanda_Falls_160_02272021 - Although I had the Lower Etiwanda Falls to myself, I wasn't alone as this army of biting ants kept me company
Etiwanda_Falls_171_02272021 - Looking back at the context of the main trail as I was getting close to the main Etiwanda Falls during our late February 2021 visit
Etiwanda_Falls_191_02272021 - Checking out Etiwanda Falls in late February 2021 flow
Etiwanda_Falls_201_02272021 - Context of the main drop of Etiwanda Falls and an intermediate drop further downstream of it as seen during our late February 2021 hike
Etiwanda_Falls_240_02272021 - Looking at the context of where people were chilling out to enjoy the rewards of their efforts for reaching the Etiwanda Falls as seen on our late February 2021 visit
Etiwanda_Falls_248_02272021 - Looking downstream towards the brink of Etiwanda Falls as people were enjoying themselves around the water during our late February 2021 visit
Etiwanda_Falls_283_02272021 - It was definitely busy on the Etiwanda Falls Trail in late February 2021
Etiwanda_Falls_299_02272021 - Context of the Etiwanda Falls Trail and the Riverside Basin as we made our way back during our late February 2021 visit
Etiwanda_Falls_324_02272021 - Continuing to make our way back down to the flatter parts of the Etiwanda Falls Trail as we were on our way back to the trailhead in late February 2021
Etiwanda_Falls_333_02272021 - The suburban infrastructure near the North Etiwanda Preserve Trailhead was getting closer
Etiwanda_Falls_350_02272021 - Looking back at the gazeebo with interpretive signs during my little detour on our late February 2021 visit to Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_357_02272021 - It turned out that there was this alternate path to the gazeebo to the west of the main trail up to Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_376_02272021 - Even though we were ending our late February 2021 visit to Etiwanda Falls, there were still people parking in this spot despite the fact that the Rancho Cucamonga police were issuing citations
Etiwanda_Falls_381_02272021 - Continuing to walk down Etiwanda Avenue as we pursued the parked car well away from the official North Etiwanda Preserve parking lot during our late February 2021 visit
N_Etiwanda_010_01242015 - On our first attempt at hiking to Etiwanda Falls in late January 2015, we checked out the area around the trailhead as we looked for signs telling us the way to proceed to the waterfall
N_Etiwanda_002_01242015 - Looking towards another gate and trail that appeared to follow the power pylons at the North Etiwanda Preserve. This trail did not go to the Etiwanda Falls
N_Etiwanda_011_01242015 - Gusty Santa Ana Winds made the hiking conditions a bit on the sketchy side so we ultimately turned back and aborted our first attempt at hiking to Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_001_02012015 - Back at the parking lot for the North Etiwanda Preserve as we made another go at hiking to Etiwanda Falls one week after the aborted attempt as the Santa Ana Winds had died down on this day in early February 2015
N_Etiwanda_013_01242015 - This was the first of a handful of gates that we had to get through to reach Etiwanda Falls. This one was at the north end of the parking lot. Note this photo and the rest of the photos in this gallery were taken in early February 2015
Etiwanda_Falls_298_02012015 - Shortly after crossing the first gate on the Etiwanda Falls hike, we noticed this water tank
Etiwanda_Falls_010_02012015 - The Etiwanda Falls Trail passed through mostly open fire road as it headed into the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains up ahead
Etiwanda_Falls_024_02012015 - The initial part of the Etiwanda Falls hike involved a lot of open exposure to the sun as the foothills still seemed pretty far away
Etiwanda_Falls_032_02012015 - The first notable detour on the Etiwanda Falls hike was this spur trail leading to a sheltered lookout with a view back towards Rancho Cucamonga. There were interpretive signs there (albeit they were laced with graffiti)
Etiwanda_Falls_272_02012015 - Closeup look at one of the quarter-mile posts seen along the Etiwanda Falls Trail, which helped us track our progress
Etiwanda_Falls_038_02012015 - As you can see, the hike to Etiwanda Falls continued to be quite exposed to the sun before even getting into the canyons in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains up ahead
Etiwanda_Falls_044_02012015 - As you can see from this photo, the hike to Etiwanda Falls was also both rocky and uphill
Etiwanda_Falls_049_02012015 - We used mile posts like this to track our progress as we still hiked the initial portion of the Etiwanda Falls Trail
Etiwanda_Falls_050_02012015 - Because the Etiwanda Falls Trail was so close to suburbia in the far northeast of the Greater Los Angeles area, there was also the shameful display of urban blight
Etiwanda_Falls_055_02012015 - A short distance after the half-mile post and just beyond a four-way intersection, we passed by the second gate, where the trail started to ascend noticeably more steeply on the way to Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_068_02012015 - This was Julie and Tahia approaching the yellow gate, which marked about the 1.25-mile point of the trail as well as the end of the most of the steep climbing on the way to Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_227_02012015 - Not long after the yellow gate, there was this spur path leading to a nice vista of the Inland Empire near some rock with graffiti indicating it was 'Frank's Rock'
Etiwanda_Falls_074_02012015 - This was the vista towards Rancho Cucamonga from the so-called 'Frank's Rock'
Etiwanda_Falls_078_02012015 - The family continuing to make their way beyond the lookout by 'Frank's Rock' and getting deeper into the canyon containing the Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_221_02012015 - The scrambling path leading closer to the lowermost of the Etiwanda Falls, which began behind some kind of water contraption
Etiwanda_Falls_222_02012015 - Continuing further along the scrambling trail behind the water contraption, the informal use trail that led to this steep descent to the base of the bottommost tier of Etiwanda Falls became more overgrown. It looked doable, but I opted not to go down there
Etiwanda_Falls_086_02012015 - The family makes one last bend in the Etiwanda Falls Trail before the final ascent to the waterfall itself
Etiwanda_Falls_090_02012015 - Our first partial look at the Etiwanda Falls as we were finally starting to approach its top
Etiwanda_Falls_125_02012015 - Frontal view of the uppermost tier of Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_144_02012015 - This photo shows the upper two tiers of Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_149_02012015 - Contextual view of the upper drop of Etiwanda Falls with some bare trees standing above it
Etiwanda_Falls_156_02012015 - Another look down at the upper two tiers of the Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_168_02012015 - Context of Julie checking out the Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_172_02012015 - Looking downstream from the top of Etiwanda Falls
Etiwanda_Falls_224_02012015 - After having our fill of Etiwanda Falls, it was time to make the downhill hike back to the trailhead at the North Etiwanda Preserve parking lot
Etiwanda_Falls_232_02012015 - Context of the Etiwanda Falls Trail as we were headed back to the trailhead
Etiwanda_Falls_250_02012015 - Back out of the canyon and descending towards the North Etiwanda Preserve Trailhead with Rancho Cucamonga and the Inland Empire in the background
Etiwanda_Falls_251_02012015 - Continuing our descent to the Etiwanda Falls Trailhead as the trail gets a little steeper on the return
Etiwanda_Falls_263_02012015 - Approaching the water tank and the housing developments meaning that we were almost done with the Etiwanda Falls hike
Etiwanda_Falls_267_02012015 - This is the view east in the direction of Big Bear (I'd imagine) and the last vestige of south-facing snow as we were near the end of our Etiwanda Falls hike
Etiwanda_Falls_271_02012015 - Making a quick detour to the lookout shelter on the way down to the bottom of the Etiwanda Falls hike
Etiwanda_Falls_298_02012015 - Almost back at the trailhead at the North Etiwanda Preserve thereby ending our Etiwanda Falls hike
Etiwanda_Falls_300_02012015 - Finally back at the parking lot for Etiwanda Falls


The key to reaching Etiwanda Falls was to drive out to the I-210/I-15 junction near Rancho Cucamonga.

From the Los Angeles basin, there were many ways to get there (e.g. going east on the I-210 or the I-10).

N_Etiwanda_004_01242015 - Entering the North Etiwanda Preserve parking lot
Entering the North Etiwanda Preserve parking lot

We’ll describe it in terms of going east from the junction of the 57 and 60 Freeways.

We pretty much continued east on the 60 then went north on the I-15 until we reached the Base Line exit (just south of the I-210/I-15 junction).

We turned left onto Base Line, then followed it for a couple of lights until we turned right onto Etiwanda Ave.

Going north on Etiwanda Ave, the road then veered left onto Wilson Ave (to avoid private property) before we turned right to get back onto Etiwanda Ave.

Etiwanda_Falls_005_02012015 - Looking back at the parking lot for the North Etiwanda Preserve and trailhead for Etiwanda Falls with new housing developments just to the right side of this picture
Looking back at the parking lot for the North Etiwanda Preserve and trailhead for Etiwanda Falls with new housing developments just to the right side of this picture

Etiwanda Ave passed through a housing development before ending at an unpaved parking lot at the well-signed North Etiwanda Preserve.

Overall, the drive from the merging of the 60 and 57 Freeways to the trailhead took us about 45 minutes.

Without traffic the 60/57 junction was probably about 30-45 minutes east of downtown Los Angeles (for a grand total of about 90 minutes of driving between downtown LA and the trailhead).

The Parking Situation At Etiwanda Falls

Something that we personally experienced on our second successful visit to Etiwanda Falls (which happened in late February 2021) was the deteriorating parking situation.

Etiwanda_Falls_015_02272021 - Approaching the gate at the North Etiwanda Preserve, where there's a long queue of people waiting for early risers to vacate their parking spots
Approaching the gate at the North Etiwanda Preserve, where there’s a long queue of people waiting for early risers to vacate their parking spots

The issue is that the only legal parking area for the North Etiwanda Preserve was the sanctioned gated and unpaved parking lot mentioned above.

However, there’s a lot of open spaces outside the reserve, which people would take advantage of when the preserve’s parking lot would be full.

Given the increasing popularity of Etiwanda Falls (as well as all waterfalls throughout Southern California) over the years, the limited parking at the lot became highly competitive.

This was because Rancho Cucamonga police started issuing citations for parked vehicles outside the reserve, which we personally witnessed in action during that visit.

Etiwanda_Falls_012_02272021 - Closer look at one of the many vehicles that was ticketed as it was parked at an apparent 'overflow' parking area that was actually illegal
Closer look at one of the many vehicles that was ticketed as it was parked at an apparent ‘overflow’ parking area that was actually illegal

Despite all the open spaces on the east side of Etiwanda Avenue, the city set up barricades in the immediate area south of the North Etiwanda Preserve’s gated lot, and police appear to be on active patrol.

I was a bit curious as to why the city has chosen to taken this stance on making the preserve an unwelcome place, especially in light of the COVID19 pandemic when more people are looking for places to reconnect with Nature given the closure of indoor spots.

And while I may be off in this guess, I suspect that those open spaces may be owned by the Water District or they may be going to the highest bidder for more lucrative housing developments (given how many more new homes were built in the area in recent years).

Perhaps a better and more transparent solution would have been to charge for visitation (like what they do at Monrovia Canyon Falls), which would subsidize any maintenance work, enforcement staff, and indirectly manage crowds, litter, and urban blight.

Etiwanda_Falls_007_02272021 - This photo should give you an idea of how far I had to walk just to reach the Etiwanda Falls Trailhead after dropping off the rest of the party at the trailhead
This photo should give you an idea of how far I had to walk just to reach the Etiwanda Falls Trailhead after dropping off the rest of the party at the trailhead

But who knows what factored into the current way of doing things, especially when money talks?

What Are The Alternatives To The North Etiwanda Preserve Parking Lot?

One of the Rancho Cucamonga police officers told me that the nearest sanctioned parking area would be at the Day Creek Park on the corner of Banyan Street and Day Creek Road, which was about 2.1 miles in each direction from the trailhead.

Similarly, there’s the Etiwanda Creek Park on East Ave north of its intersection with Banyan Street, and this was about 2.5 miles in each direction from the trailhead.

Furthermore, the officer also told me that there used to be street parking in the residential streets around the North Etiwanda Preserve before “it was ruined”.

Etiwanda_Falls_001_02272021 - One of the residential streets where there weren't signs saying 'Parking By Permit Only'
One of the residential streets where there weren’t signs saying ‘Parking By Permit Only’

Now street parking in those neighborhoods are by permit only, but he did say that if you’re willing to go far enough from the trailhead, you might find streets that don’t require permits (though I’m sure this is a fluid situation).

For the record, I wound up parking about a mile from the Etiwanda Falls Trailhead (this is reflected in the updated difficulty score).

That said, it definitely took a lot of careful studying of the street signs to ensure I wasn’t giving the city any excuse to collect a fine from me.

Finally, I did observe that people still would rather eat the parking fines as the logistical troubles resulting from the limiting of legal parking spots might have been worth paying the amount instead of bending over backwards to avoid it in their minds.

Find A Place To Stay



Booking.com

Downstream to upstream sweep from slightly downstream of the main Etiwanda Falls (in our late Feb 2021 visit) at a ledge


Back and forth sweep of the main Etiwanda Falls from as many spots as I could safely view it across the ravine


Downstream to upstream sweep of the lower drop of Etiwanda Falls with a lot of tagging around it


Left to right sweep starting from upstream then continuing to follow the stream past the falls from its top as seen on our first successful visit in Feb 2015


Side to side sweep showing the front of the uppermost tier of Etiwanda Falls before revealing part of the next tier further downstream

Related Top 10 Lists

No Posts Found

Trip Planning Resources


Nearby Accommodations




Booking.com


Tagged with: north etiwanda, etiwanda, rancho cucamonga, san bernardino, california, southern california, waterfall, los angeles, inland empire



Visitor Comments:

Some more info about San Bernardino Mountains February 12, 2016 1:24 am by Jay - Not a big deal by any means but the picture on your site that shows the snow-covered San Bernardino Mountains with the caption "This is the view east in the direction of Big Bear (I'd imagine) and the last vestige of south-facing snow," captures San Bernardino Peak (left) and San Gorgonio Mountain (right). San Gorgonio… ...Read More

Share your thoughts about what you've read on this page

You must be logged in to submit content. Refresh this page after you have logged in.

Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Etiwanda Falls Should Be a Solid 2 On the Ratings Scale March 21, 2016 6:29 pm by Jason Ethridge - My wife and I visited Etiwanda Falls on the first day of spring and we were pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the canyon (once you get up into it). We braved the descent to the (almost) bottom of the falls (she's a trooper). It is a strenuous scramble, but from here you get a… ...Read More
That waterfall is just the beginning… July 31, 2015 4:30 pm by Justin Williams - I have explored Etiwanda Canyon and Day Creek Canyon quite a bit and there are other water falls further up the canyons that most people never see. The ones to the left are most accessible and a short distance. Several of these have graffiti all over them. But if you follow the canyon up to… ...Read More

Have you been to a waterfall? Submit a write-up/review and share your experiences or impressions

Review A Waterfall

Nearest Waterfalls

The Waterfaller Newsletter

The Waterfaller Newsletter is where we curate the wealth of information on the World of Waterfalls website and deliver it to you in bite-sized chunks in your email inbox. You'll also get exclusive content like...

  • Waterfall Wednesdays
  • Insider Tips
  • User-submitted Waterfall Write-up of the Month
  • and the latest news and updates both within the website as well as around the wonderful world of waterfalls


The Process of How I Earn Income Sharing My Passion Through Lived Experiences

Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning 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.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.