La Jolla Canyon Falls

Santa Monica Mountains / Pt Mugu State Park, California, USA

About La Jolla Canyon Falls


Hiking Distance: 1.6 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2009-02-08
Date last visited: 2010-01-24

Waterfall Latitude: 34.09242
Waterfall Longitude: -119.04345

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La Jolla Canyon Falls is another waterfall attraction in Point Mugu State Park nestled within the Santa Monica Mountains (the other waterfall being Sycamore Canyon Falls).

It would typically consist of an upper tier that was about 15ft as well as an apparent lower tier that was slightly taller but harder to reach.

La_Jolla_Canyon_Falls_009_01242010 - La Jolla Canyon Falls in its typical dry or trickling state in January 2010
La Jolla Canyon Falls in its typical dry or trickling state in January 2010

Unfortunately, all three times that we’ve visited this waterfall, we’ve only seen it either trickling or almost dry (see photo above).

Our latest failure with the falls followed five consecutive days of El Nino downpours.

The prior attempt a year earlier to that followed three consecutive days of heavy rains.

Given these developments, I’m inclined to believe this is really nothing more than an ephemeral waterfall and would only put on a show if you got real lucky and timed it just right.

La_Jolla_Canyon_Falls_016_02082009 - La Jolla Canyon Falls also wasn't flowing when we showed up in February 2009
La Jolla Canyon Falls also wasn’t flowing when we showed up in February 2009

With such lack of longevity and unpredictability, La Jolla Canyon Falls probably shouldn’t really count as a legitimate waterfall.

At least it shouldn’t count based on the criteria that we’ve defined in a write-up about how you determine if a waterfall is legit or not.

Who knows?

Maybe the storms just so happened to miss the La Jolla Canyon drainage though I somehow doubt it given the breadth and longevity of these storms.

La_Jolla_Canyon_Falls_022_02082009 - Personally, I found the scenery of La Jolla Canyon to be more alluring than the La Jolla Canyon Falls itself
Personally, I found the scenery of La Jolla Canyon to be more alluring than the La Jolla Canyon Falls itself

Or, maybe climate change already killed off the reliability of this waterfall?

Anyways, we figured you’ll need a year of substantial and sustained rainfall (like the record rains of 2005) in order to revive this waterfall.

Only then would we feel like it would be worth it to pay the $8 day use fee as of 2010 (which was $5 when I revised this page in 2009 following the 2nd attempt).

The hike to the La Jolla Canyon Falls is about 1.6 miles round trip from the well-signed La Jolla Canyon Trail and parking lot.

La_Jolla_Canyon_004_01192019 - The very last time we attempted to visit the La Jolla Canyon Falls in January 2019, the trail was closed so I guess this place just wasn't meant to be
The very last time we attempted to visit the La Jolla Canyon Falls in January 2019, the trail was closed so I guess this place just wasn’t meant to be

There are signs warning you about ticks on this trail.

Having been bit by one of these before, I’d recommend you heed the warnings, stay on the trail, tuck your pants in your socks or boots, and then do visual inspections with your fellow hikers before getting in your car to leave.

Authorities

La Jolla Canyon Falls resides in the Point Mugu State Park near Oxnard in Ventura County, California. It is administered by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

La_Jolla_Canyon_Falls_001_01242010 - On the La Jolla Canyon Trail during our visit in January 2010
La_Jolla_Canyon_Falls_002_01242010 - Twisty rock walls within La Jolla Canyon as we got closer to the La Jolla Canyon Falls in January 2010
La_Jolla_Canyon_Falls_007_01242010 - Looking right at the trickling La Jolla Canyon Falls during our January 2010 visit
La_Jolla_Canyon_Falls_010_01242010 - Looking back down at the La Jolla Canyon Falls and pool after a week of sustained heavy rains but the falls didn't do much during our January 2010 visit
La_Jolla_Canyon_Falls_014_01242010 - This was about as much water as I'd see on La Jolla Canyon Falls during our January 2010 visit, and I had to look REAL closely
La_Jolla_Canyon_Falls_002_02082009 - This was the prices for day use at La Jolla Canyon as of our visit in February 2009
La_Jolla_Canyon_Falls_004_02082009 - Hiking past this sign for the La Jolla Canyon Trail en route to the waterfall in February 2009
La_Jolla_Canyon_Falls_006_02082009 - Dad on the La Jolla Canyon Trail in February 2009
La_Jolla_Canyon_Falls_011_02082009 - Profile view of the pair of tiers that is supposed to be La Jolla Canyon Falls as seen in February 2009
La_Jolla_Canyon_Falls_019_02082009 - Looking downstream from the top of the La Jolla Canyon Falls in February 2009

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The trailhead parking for La Jolla Canyon is just off Pacific Coast Highway between Malibu and Oxnard (about some 16 miles or 25 minutes north of the parking lot for Escondido Falls).

More generally, the drive from downtown Los Angeles to the falls would be 50 miles (nearly 2 hours drive with moderate traffic) via PCH.

La_Jolla_Canyon_002_01192019 - Looking back at the parking lot for the La Jolla Canyon Falls Trailhead in Pt Mugu State Park
Looking back at the parking lot for the La Jolla Canyon Falls Trailhead in Pt Mugu State Park

Alternately, the drive would take about the same mount of time to go a longer route via the 101, which would pass through Camarillo and the outskirts of Oxnard before arriving at the trailhead from the west.

Tagged with: pt mugu, point mugu, state park, malibu, santa monica mountains, ventura, southern california, california, waterfall



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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.
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