Millard Falls

Angeles National Forest / Altadena, California, USA

About Millard Falls


Hiking Distance: 1.2 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 45-60 minutes (base)

Date first visited: 2002-12-29
Date last visited: 2020-06-09

Waterfall Latitude: 34.21877
Waterfall Longitude: -118.14194

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Millard Falls was a local waterfall that really felt like one of the more family-friendly adventures when it came to waterfalling in the Southland.

Not only was the hiking short and the terrain more-or-less flat, but it also helped that the falls had nice dimensions to it (said to be about 60ft tall).

Millard_Falls_17_066_02192017 - Millard Falls in unusually very high flow
Millard Falls in unusually very high flow

Moreover, the waterfall’s distinguishing feature was the boulders wedged at its brink, which actually split the falling water into more-or-less of a contorted Y shape.

Aside from the waterfall, the canyon scenery encompassing the falls was scenic in its own right.

We were literally surrounded by impressively tall mountains with nearly vertical rock walls enclosing the canyon around us.

This provided that rugged beauty that you can only find in Nature when it’s relatively untouched and unspoiled by people.

Millard_Falls_16_127_01302016 - Julie and Tahia enjoying Millard Falls in more 'normal' flow in January 2016
Julie and Tahia enjoying Millard Falls in more ‘normal’ flow in January 2016

That said, the waterfall does sit within the rugged Millard Canyon which has seen its share of wildfires and the resultant landslides (especially with Global Warming exacerbating such conditions).

So accessing the Millard Falls can be a hit-and-miss affair as we once went 13 years between visits from closures due to public safety.

Millard Falls Timing

In addition to the public safety closures, Millard Creek required a certain degree of timing since its stream was considered to be intermittent according to our Topo maps from both National Geographic and Garmin.

In general, in order to see Millard Falls perform, we’d have to first ensure that we’ve had a wet Winter, or at least a storm or two prior to a visit.

Millard_Falls_001_12292002 - The state of Millard Falls when Julie and I first saw it together at the end of December 2002
The state of Millard Falls when Julie and I first saw it together at the end of December 2002

Just to give you an idea of the varying degrees of flow, we have photos of the waterfall fairly low flow from May 2001, late December 2002, and January 2016.

However, we’ve also seen a crazy amount of water in Millard Falls in May 2017, which was an unusually wet year.

So you really have to pay attention to the weather and the rainfall totals.

Then, when the rains have cleared and the trail is open, you don’t want to wait too long thereafter or else risk witnessing Millard Creek return to a more low-flow state or even just trickle or go dry.

Experiencing Millard Falls

Millard_Falls_16_078_01302016 - Tahia enjoying the bottom of Millard Falls
Tahia enjoying the bottom of Millard Falls

I’ve managed to experience Millard Falls in a couple of different ways.

The most obvious way would be to do a short 1.2-mile round-trip hike from its trailhead to its base.

This hike took us about 25-30 minutes in each direction (or about an hour round-trip) at a very leisurely pace.

Since it was the most obvious manner to visit the waterfall, it was also the most crowded and popular option (so don’t expect solitude for long stretches of time), especially since there’s a campground next to the trailhead.

That said, it also popular because almost everything about the excursion seemed to be relatively family-friendly as there was hardly any elevation change and the paths were pretty well-defined.

Millard_025_04232011 - View of Millard Falls as I was approaching its top from the Sunset Trail spur off the Mt Lowe Road
View of Millard Falls as I was approaching its top from the Sunset Trail spur off the Mt Lowe Road

A less obvious way to access Millard Falls would be to do part of the Mt Lowe Road to the Sunset Trail, which provided an elevated view of Millard Falls as well as going to its top and beyond.

This trail took me about 40 minutes round-trip to do, but that also included a lot of pausing to check out the Mt Lowe Railway signs, the views of the Los Angeles Basin, and the unusual views of the waterfall itself.

Because I only pursued this option when the trail to the base of Millard Falls was closed, I’d imagine that it doesn’t get nearly as much foot traffic.

The Base of Millard Falls

Millard_Falls_16_013_01302016 - Tahia enjoying the bottom of Millard Falls
Tahia enjoying the bottom of Millard Falls

The hike to the bottom of Millard Falls began at the main parking lot for the Millard Picnic Area and Campground (see directions below).

From there, we followed an obvious trail that quickly led to the campground area.

There were some toilet facilities there as well as picnic tables and room for tents to be set up.

I’ve been here on weekends where this campground was packed even when the trail to the falls itself was closed.

Millard_Falls_16_032_01302016 - For the most part, the trail to the base of Millard Falls was pretty straightforward, and our daughter didn't have much difficulty doing it under her own power
For the most part, the trail to the base of Millard Falls was pretty straightforward, and our daughter didn’t have much difficulty doing it under her own power

That said, on one of our most recent visits, the campground was pretty much empty even though the trail to the falls was re-opened.

In any case, just before the dirt road passing by the campground dipped into a creek ford, a signposted trail pointed us to go right, which promptly started us on the trail within Millard Canyon.

For the most part, the trail was pretty obvious to follow despite the canyon walls closing into a relatively narrow passageway.

We were able to keep our feet dry throughout the trail except for a couple of pretty easy creek crossings.

Millard_Falls_16_044_01302016 - Tahia going across Millard Creek in normal flow, which are usually quite easy to cross under such conditions
Tahia going across Millard Creek in normal flow, which are usually quite easy to cross under such conditions

When Millard Creek would have heavier flow, then I can see where it might be trickier to keep the feet dry on those creek crossings or where the trail abutted against the creek itself.

Anyways, the trail pretty much meandered about the canyon for the next half-mile or less.

We spotted some interesting grandfathered wooden cabins perched high up on the canyon cliffs as well as an interesting mine shaft.

The trail undulated while twisting and turning with the curves of the canyon.

Millard_Falls_16_028_01302016 - An interesting mine shaft that we noticed while hiking to Millard Falls
An interesting mine shaft that we noticed while hiking to Millard Falls

However, the trail would make an abrupt end right at the Millard Falls where the canyon walls would box itself in with vertical rock walls.

Given the presence of a few large boulders on the ground around the falls, we were cognizant of the potential for rock falls.

In fact, upon closer inspection of the top of the waterfall itself, we could see at least two or three large boulders wedged against each other.

While they look pretty securely wedged in, you never know how Mother Nature can change the circumstances over the years so we tried to limit the amount of time spent directly underneath the waterfall.

Millard_Falls_008_12292002 - Looking up at the jumble of boulders wedged above Millard Falls
Looking up at the jumble of boulders wedged above Millard Falls

Each time we’ve been to the bottom of this waterfall, we’ve noticed folks standing near the boulders at the top of the falls.

While it may be tempting to find a way to scale the vertical rock walls to get up there, it’s actually not a smart thing to do given the risk of injury or death as a result of the steepness of the canyon walls here.

I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s definitely not necessary, which you’ll see in the next section below.

The Top of Millard Falls

Before the Station Fire in 2009, I had never contemplated visiting Millard Falls in any other way than from the obvious trail to its base.

Millard_039_04232011 - Context of Millard Falls in high flow as seen from a trail skirting the canyon rim
Context of Millard Falls in high flow as seen from a trail skirting the canyon rim

However, ever since the resulting closure of that trail, it opened up my mind to consider other ways to see and experience the waterfall.

That was how I learned about a trail that took me to the top of the falls.

Little would I realize that parts of the trail I would end up taking would also expose me to some interesting history concerning the Mt Lowe Railway.

This was an engineering attempt in the 1890s at taming the San Gabriel Mountains and essentially creating a “railway to the sky” as well as a city atop Echo Mountain.

Millard_006_04232011 - Looking back towards the Los Angeles basin from the Mt Lowe Road
Looking back towards the Los Angeles basin from the Mt Lowe Road

For a period of about 40-50 years, this was said to be Southern California’s most famous attraction, but Mother Nature didn’t give in very easily.

Eventually, storms would ultimately dislodge some loose boulders that would ultimately smash key parts of the pavilion atop the railway thereby putting an end to the Mt Lowe Railway.

From the gate barricading the start of the Mt Lowe Road near the old Sunset Ridge Station, I walked the Mt Lowe Road as it narrowed to become more or less a mostly paved foot trail.

This road ascended a ridge and veered to the left under some power lines with some sweeping views back towards the Los Angeles basin.

Millard_014_04232011 - Looking back towards the road leading down to the Millard Campground from the ridge above Millard Canyon
Looking back towards the road leading down to the Millard Campground from the ridge above Millard Canyon

Looking back in the other direction, I was able to see the road descending to the Millard Picnic Area and Campground below as well as the Sunset Ridge Station itself, which was a power substation tapping into the high voltage lines in the area.

Continuing along the road-turned-trail for about another 8-10 minutes or so, I then followed a signposted path that forked to the left leaving the Mt Lowe Road.

This dirt trail was the Sunset Trail, and it pretty much skirted the parts of Millard Canyon where the main waterfall trail was directly below.

After roughly 5 more minutes of walking this trail, I started to get eye-level views of Millard Falls in the distance.

Millard_054_04232011 - The trail that left the Mt Lowe Road and went towards the Sunset Trail eventually passing by the top of Millard Falls
The trail that left the Mt Lowe Road and went towards the Sunset Trail eventually passing by the top of Millard Falls

However, given the presence of thick foliage around the base of the falls, I never really got a totally clean view from anywhere along the Sunset Trail.

And as I continued further on the trail, the views became even more obscured, but then I realized that the trail skirted right past the top of the waterfall itself.

So if one wanted to get a closer look at the boulders wedged above Millard Falls, this was the right trail to do it.

Beyond the waterfall, the Sunset Trail then entered deeper along the rim of Millard Canyon before reaching another fork.

Millard_042_04232011 - This was where the Sunset Trail narrowed as it skirted right above Millard Falls
This was where the Sunset Trail narrowed as it skirted right above Millard Falls

One of the forks looked like it went towards someone’s cabin.

The other fork continued the Sunset Trail, which would ultimately rejoin the Mt Lowe Road near the Cape of Good Hope.

This fork was my turnaround point so I can’t make any further comments about that section of the trail.

Overall, this hike took me under 40 minutes round trip though I probably didn’t need to go as far as I did (so it could require even less time than this).

Millard_045_04232011 - Looking over the brink of Millard Falls towards the steep contours of Millard Canyon
Looking over the brink of Millard Falls towards the steep contours of Millard Canyon

Thus, from a difficulty standpoint, I figured it was about the same difficulty as the obvious trail leading to the base of Millard Falls described in the section above.

A Very Wet Adventure to Millard Falls

In February 2017, we took advantage of a break in some saturation rains that seemed to have finally put a dent in our multi-year drought situation in California.

That yielded the state of the Millard Falls that you see pictured at the very top of this page.

Of course, with everything that I had been saying up to this point about this hike being somewhat family-friendly and easy, the hike was definitely more of a wet adventure during that 2017 visit.

Millard_Falls_17_030_02192017 - When Millard Creek was swollen (as it was on this day), there were some crossings where we had no choice but to get wet
When Millard Creek was swollen (as it was on this day), there were some crossings where we had no choice but to get wet

During that visit, Millard Creek was as swollen as I had ever seen it.

Obviously, given the narrowness of Millard Canyon, this would not be the place to be during a downpour as flash flooding would be a killer here.

That said, it was next to impossible to keep our feet dry under the conditions that yielded the photo at the top of this page.

Indeed, the moral of this story is that we urge you to know the conditions and come prepared (or even be prepared to turn back if it’s too dangerous to proceed).

Millard_Falls_17_038_02192017 - Another deep crossing of Millard Creek in flood where people unprepared were definitely going to ruin their shoes to proceed
Another deep crossing of Millard Creek in flood where people unprepared were definitely going to ruin their shoes to proceed

Mother Nature can be very unforgiving, especially under extreme weather conditions when life changing events can suddenly happen without warning.

Authorities

Millard Falls resides in the Angeles National Forest near Altadena in Los Angeles County, California. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website or Facebook page.

Millard_Falls_004_06092020 - On our early June 2020 visit to Millard Falls, the trailhead parking was as busy as I had ever seen it even though it was a Tuesday! I wasn't sure if this was because of school being out, COVID-19 cabin fever, social media, or all of the above. I'd hate to imagine what weekends here would be like these days
Millard_Falls_008_06092020 - Walking on the trail between the picnic area by the lower parking lot and the Millard Campground during our early June 2020 visit. By the way, the next several photos were taken from this late Spring early Summer visit during COVID easing
Millard_Falls_010_06092020 - Walking on the wide 'road' leading to the Millard Campground in early June 2020
Millard_Falls_011_06092020 - Looking back up at a trail leading up to the Mt Lowe Road during our early June 2020 visit. One of these days, I'd like to go back there and see what's left of the Mt Lowe Railway and the city in the sky they tried to build up there
Millard_Falls_013_06092020 - Even with COVID-19 going around in early June 2020, there's quite a bit of activity going on at the Millard Campground
Millard_Falls_014_06092020 - Every time we do the Millard Falls hike, there's always this RV parked  on the trail between the picnic area by the lower parking lot and the Millard Campground. Our early June 2020 visit was no different as shown here.
Millard_Falls_015_06092020 - Hiking alongside Millard Creek from the Millard Campground towards the waterfall during our early June 2020 visit
Millard_Falls_016_06092020 - Approaching a tiny cascade on Millard Creek next to some kind of old dam wall where it was tricky to scramble up without touching anything
Millard_Falls_018_06092020 - As time goes on and the popularity of Millard Falls and other Los Angeles waterfalls continue to grow, I see irresponsible behavior like these boys scrambling up the canyon walls and causing fodder for future landslides as they degrade the soil there
Millard_Falls_019_06092020 - Crossing Millard Creek during our early June 2020 visit in seemingly 'normal' flow
Millard_Falls_021_06092020 - It looked like the entrance to the old mine was becoming overgrown in early June 2020 since the last time we saw it
Millard_Falls_025_06092020 - It was a hot day when we hiked to Millard Falls in early June 2020, but it remained cool and shady inside Millard Canyon
Millard_Falls_026_06092020 - It can get a bit tricky to social distance within the confines of the Millard Canyon Trail, especially during our June 2020 visit
Millard_Falls_040_06092020 - Millard Falls in somewhat low flow when we showed up in early June 2020
Millard_Falls_046_06092020 - Looking up at the wedged boulders at the top of Millard Falls during our early June 2020 visit. I wonder when these boulders would finally come crashing down as it appeared to be only held up by another boulder or protrusion
Millard_Falls_019_iPhone_06092020 - Lots of kids crowding around the base of Millard Falls during our early June 2020 visit
Millard_Falls_049_06092020 - This was probably the only moment I had at Millard Falls to take a picture of it without people around though it only lasted for a few seconds during our early June 2020 visit
Millard_Falls_081_06092020 - Just to give you an idea of how crowded it can get at the base of Millard Falls, maybe this picture might shed some light on the social distancing (or lack thereof) that took place on our early June 2020 visit
Millard_Falls_111_06092020 - One things that we didn't notice as much of during our early June 2020 visit to Millard Falls was the presence of graffiti, but we did notice some juvenile tree etching like what's shown here
Millard_Falls_113_06092020 - Looking back at Millard Falls as we were leaving, where I noticed that there was a lot more foliage obstructing any distant views of the falls that we've had in the past during our early June 2020 visit
Millard_Falls_131_06092020 - Closer look at some of the surprising wildlife that I noticed in Millard Canyon despite its popularity
Millard_Falls_132_06092020 - Looking deep into the mine shaft in Millard Canyon looking towards the blocked in section where any further progress was not possible
Millard_Falls_136_06092020 - Heading back past the Millard Campground towards the parking lot on our early June 2020 visit, where we noticed this cabin that I guess we never really paid attention to in the past
Millard_Falls_141_06092020 - Returning to the Millard Falls Trailhead parking at the end of the early June 2020 visit, where we could still see some cars parked illegally but it didn't look like people were enforcing it on this day
Millard_Falls_145_06092020 - The trailhead parking situation at Millard Falls was considerably lighter when we returned to our cars at the end of our early June 2020 visit
Millard_Falls_17_003_02192017 - The first several photos took place in February 2017. This was us getting started at the Millard Falls Trailhead
Millard_Falls_17_005_02192017 - Tahia trying out Mom's trekking poles while pursuing the Millard Falls Trail
Millard_Falls_17_008_02192017 - At the ford, we then went right and followed the sign into Millard Canyon
Millard_Falls_17_011_02192017 - On this particular day, Millard Creek was in high flow so some of the intermediate cascades actually looked more substantial than we had ever seen them
Millard_Falls_17_012_02192017 - Mom carrying Tahia across an already unusually-deep crossing of Millard Creek during our February 2017 visit
Millard_Falls_17_013_02192017 - More intermediate waterfalls on Millard Creek while hiking alongside it during our February 2017 visit
Millard_Falls_17_017_02192017 - Context of the Millard Falls Trail skirting alongside a rushing Millard Creek in unusually high flow during our February 2017 visit
Millard_Falls_17_018_02192017 - Another one of the tricky crossings of Millard Creek in high flow during our 2017 visit
Millard_Falls_17_020_02192017 - There were lots of dead falls that washed along the flooded Millard Creek during the 2017 Winter when we had a lot of rain
Millard_Falls_17_022_02192017 - Mom and Tahia traversing this log-assisted crossing of Millard Creek in high flow
Millard_Falls_17_032_02192017 - Continuing along the fairly busy Millard Falls Trail in February 2017
Millard_Falls_17_035_02192017 - Julie and Mom with Tahia riding Mom's back to get over some more of the trickier crossings of a flooded Millard Creek in February 2017
Millard_Falls_17_040_02192017 - I had never seen one of these totem boards of a fallen log before, but we happened to notice it during our February 2017 visit of Millard Falls
Millard_Falls_17_041_02192017 - Context of us continuing deeper into Millard Canyon en route to Millard Falls in 2017
Millard_Falls_17_043_02192017 - Finally starting to approach a very full Millard Falls, but the remaining stream obstacles almost guaranteed more wet feet at this point
Millard_Falls_17_046_02192017 - Another look at people slowly making their way further upstream to the flooded Millard Falls
Millard_Falls_17_051_02192017 - Finally standing before Millard Falls like we had never seen it before in February 2017
Millard_Falls_17_074_02192017 - Broad view of Millard Falls in very high flow during our visit in February 2017
Millard_Falls_17_077_02192017 - Tahia getting blasted by the spray from a swollen Millard Falls during an unusually wet Winter season in the Southland in 2017
Millard_Falls_17_080_02192017 - Contextual look at the flooded Millard Falls in very high flow during our visit in February 2017
Millard_Falls_17_089_02192017 - On the return hike from Millard Falls in February 2017, Mom gave up on keeping her feet dry and she now made sure Tahia didn't suffer by helping her through the tricky obstacles
Millard_Falls_17_091_02192017 - Context of more people getting through the swollen Millard Creek as we were returning from Millard Falls in February 2017
Millard_Falls_17_094_02192017 - Looking back at Julie and Tahia with Tahia riding Mom as they continued to navigate the tricky crossings of a swollen Millard Creek in 2017
Millard_Falls_17_096_02192017 - A stretch of relatively easy walking on an otherwise adventurous Millard Falls hike in February 2017
Millard_Falls_17_100_02192017 - Mom giving Tahia a ride as we were approaching the next crossing of Millard Creek on the return hike in 2017
Millard_Falls_17_104_02192017 - The family continuing to make their return alongside Millard Creek in full spate during our February 2017 visit
Millard_Falls_17_106_02192017 - Context of Mom crossing a log-assisted traverse of Millard Creek in high flow during our February 2017 visit
Millard_Falls_17_107_02192017 - Finally making it back to the Millard Campground thereby ending our dramas inside Millard Canyon during our February 2017 hike
Millard_Falls_16_002_01302016 - It got pretty busy at the parking lot near the Millard Campground when we showed up in late January 2016. This photo and the next several photos were taken from that 2016 visit to Millard Falls shortly after they finally re-opened the trail since its closing following the 2009 Station Fire.
Millard_Falls_16_009_01302016 - Here's Julie and Tahia on the brief trail bridging the Millard Falls Trailhead with the Millard Campground
Millard_Falls_16_014_01302016 - This was the Millard Falls trail, which began just before the ford of Millard Creek
Millard_Falls_16_021_01302016 - Julie and Tahia getting past one of the pretty easy stream crossings of Millard Creek (at least when it wasn't flooded)
Millard_Falls_16_023_01302016 - High up on the canyon wall was what appeared to be an old wooden cabin, which was something we didn't notice the first time we did this trail 13 years ago!
Millard_Falls_16_025_01302016 - The Millard Falls Trail skirted by some lush area where Millard Creek clearly nourished the foliage with its waters
Millard_Falls_16_036_01302016 - Tahia walking on the Millard Falls Trail, which skirted alongside Millard Creek in this stretch shown here.  I can see in times of flood, the water could very well get onto the trail itself here though it was pretty tame on this January 2016 visit
Millard_Falls_16_046_01302016 - Tahia continuing along the Millard Falls Trail within the steep Millard Canyon
Millard_Falls_16_050_01302016 - Tahia doing another crossing of Millard Creek in pretty low flow in January 2016
Millard_Falls_16_053_01302016 - The walls of Millard Canyon were getting increasingly rockier the deeper we went
Millard_Falls_16_055_01302016 - Tahia continuing further along the Millard Falls Trail on this slight climb though this trail was pretty much flat the entire way
Millard_Falls_16_059_01302016 - Tahia hiking beneath some rocky cliffs along the Millard Falls Trail as we were getting closer to the end during our January 2016 visit
Millard_Falls_16_064_01302016 - Context of Tahia about to approach the dead-end of the Millard Falls Trail as she was surrounded by the narrowing cliffs of Millard Canyon
Millard_Falls_16_070_01302016 - Tahia finally arriving at the base of Millard Falls in our January 2016 hike
Millard_Falls_16_075_01302016 - You can see in this photo that some folks managed to make it above Millard Falls, but I'd imagine that they did so from a separate trail and not this one to the base
Millard_Falls_16_088_01302016 - Looking at the full context of Millard Falls in its January 2016 flow
Millard_Falls_16_157_01302016 - Last look back at Millard Falls before heading back in January 2016
Millard_Falls_16_165_01302016 - Context of Julie and Tahia heading back in Millard Canyon after having had their fill of the Millard Falls in January 2016
Millard_Falls_16_190_01302016 - One of the nice things about the return hike to the Millard Falls Trailhead was the chance to see and enjoy Millard Canyon from a different perspective (i.e. when we look the other way)
Millard_Falls_16_201_01302016 - Julie and Tahia almost back at the mouth of Millard Canyon during our January 2016 visit
Millard_Falls_16_216_01302016 - Our visit to Millard Falls in January 2016 happened to be in the afternoon so we got this nice view towards the setting sun over La Canada-Flintridge as the clouds created a sort of god-beam-like effect
Millard_Falls_16_223_01302016 - Heading back down the Chaney Trail Road after having had our fill of Millard Falls on our January 2016 visit
Millard_004_04232011 - The Millard Falls Trail was still closed as of April 2011 so I had to find another way
Millard_009_04232011 - The next few photos came from my visit in April 2011 when I couldn't go down to the base of Millard Falls, but I did try to experience it in a different way from above Millard Canyon. This was the view of the Mt Lowe Road shortly after the closure gate
Millard_011_04232011 - Walking along a ridge flanked by wildflowers while beneath power lines while on the narrowing Mt Lowe Road
Millard_012_04232011 - Leaving the Mt Lowe Road for the narrower Sunset Trail en route to the top of Millard Falls in April 2011
Millard_013_04232011 - The Sunset Trail skirted the rim of Millard Canyon as I was pursuing the alternate view of Millard Falls in April 2011
Millard_015_04232011 - Continuing along the Sunset Trail flanked by hints of wildflowers as I pursued the top down view of Millard Falls in April 2011
Millard_018_04232011 - Looking towards a smaller cascade that might have been a side creek ultimately feeding Millard Creek as seen in April 2011
Millard_021_04232011 - Finally starting to see Millard Falls from a higher vantage point in my April 2011 hike
Millard_043_04232011 - This was as far as I went beyond Millard Falls, where the trail on the right went to someone's cabin while the trail on the left went elsewhere
Millard_048_04232011 - Last look back at Millard Falls during my April 2011 hike
Millard_Falls_001_02282010 - In February 2010, we scoped out Millard Canyon to see if it was possible to visit Millard Falls after the Station Fire happened a few months before the rains finally came, but we were already stopped short by this closure gate on the Chaney Trail
Millard_Falls_003_02282010 - Walking the Chaney Trail Road though you'd typically drive it to the campground or other trailheads. The Chaney Trail just so happened to be closed on this particular day in February 2010
Millard_Falls_004_02282010 - Looking back towards Altadena on the Chaney Trail as we were walking the closed road in February 2010
Millard_Falls_005_02282010 - A sign indicating the closure of the Millard Falls Trail as of February 2010 due to landslides and mudflows in the aftermath of the Station Fire
Millard_Falls_006_02282010 - Just to give you an idea of how much the Station Fire affected the area, here's a juxtaposition of the bare burn area against the spared vegetated area as seen in February 2010
Millard_Falls_009_02282010 - More closure signs and threats of fines for entering the Millard Falls Trail in February 2010
Millard_Falls_012_02282010 - Looking towards fencing and all sorts of infrastructure set up to prevent people from accessing Millard Canyon after the Station Fire as of February 2010
Millard_Falls_013_02282010 - Some heavy duty Caterpillar machinery to move away a lot of the debris washing into and out of Millard Canyon after the Station Fire
Millard_Falls_015_02282010 - Looking back towards Altadena as we headed back from our futile visit to Millard Falls in February 2010
Millard_Falls_014_12292002 - Contextual view of Millard Falls from its base as seen back in December 2002. Note that the tree in this photo is no longer there!
Millard_Falls_010_12292002 - Examining the algae growing on the rock wall behind Millard Falls as of December 2002

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Over the years, we’ve found a couple of ways to drive to the Millard Canyon area and the Millard Falls Trailhead.

We’ll first describe the way we historically had taken since we’d typically be coming from the east.

Driving from Duarte to the Millard Falls Trailhead

Starting from the I-605 and I-210 junction near Monrovia and Duarte, we headed west on the I-210 for about 10 miles before taking the offramp for Lake Ave near Pasadena.

Millard_Falls_16_218_01302016 - The Chaney Trail road heading into the forest service area as it was about to junction with Mt Lowe Road by the Sunset Ridge Power Station
The Chaney Trail road heading into the forest service area as it was about to junction with Mt Lowe Road by the Sunset Ridge Power Station

Turning right onto Lake Ave, we drove north for about 4 miles to its junction with Loma Alta Drive.

Turning left onto Loma Alta Drive, we followed this residential road for about a mile to the Chaney Trail (it’s just past a blinking yellow light on the right).

Turning right onto Chaney Trail, we then followed this narrow and winding road for a little over a mile to its three-way T-junction with the Mt Lowe Road.

There was a barricade on the right side of the three-way T-junction that prevented further vehicular access on Mt Lowe Road.

Millard_005_04232011 - The gate blocking further vehicular access onto the Mt Lowe Road
The gate blocking further vehicular access onto the Mt Lowe Road

So if the intent was to hike to the top of Millard Falls or explore other parts of the historical Mt Lowe Railway, then we would park in one of the spaces or shoulders around this gate.

We just had to make sure that we didn’t park in one of the painted areas where it was strictly forbidden to park.

The road continued to descend into the base of the canyon after turning left at the T-junction with the Mt Lowe Road.

The parking lot for both the Millard Falls and the Millard Campground was at the end of the road.

Millard_Falls_16_006_01302016 - Looking back at the parking lot for the Millard Falls Trailhead and the Millard Campground
Looking back at the parking lot for the Millard Falls Trailhead and the Millard Campground

We had to display a Forest Adventure Pass in our parked car since we were on National Forest Service land.

An Alternate Approach to the Millard Falls Trailhead

If the above route described involves too much local driving and stoplights, we learned that we could also continue driving on the I-210 west past the Lake Ave exit.

In doing that, then we’d keep right on the I-210 until taking the Lincoln Ave exit.

Once we got off the freeway, we turned right onto Lincoln Ave and followed this street past a few traffic lights to Loma Alta Drive (just under 2 miles).

Millard_Falls_005_06092020 - Even on weekdays, it seemed like it gets pretty busy at the Millard Falls Trailhead parking lot (which I'm sure is exacerbated by social media and
Even on weekdays, it seemed like it gets pretty busy at the Millard Falls Trailhead parking lot (which I’m sure is exacerbated by social media and

Turning right onto Loma Alta Drive, we continued for about 0.6 miles to the Chaney Trail on the left.

If we got to the blinking yellow lights, then we would have missed the easy-to-miss Chaney Trail.

Once on the Chaney Trail, we then followed the directions as given above to both trailheads.

Comprehensive sweep starting from the base of Millard Falls before backing off and doing another sweep in late Spring early Summer flow


Downstream to upstream sweep and vice versa of the falls in unusually high flow


Pretty much checking out the falls in as many ways as I possibly could at its base


Top down sweep of the falls from an alternate viewpoint (nearby the Sunset Trail)

Tagged with: la canada, flintridge, altadena, pasadena, san gabriel, angeles national forest, los angeles, southern california, california, waterfall, lowe, chaney trail



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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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