About Newton Canyon Falls
Newton Canyon Falls was one of those waterfalls that somehow eluded us many years ago on our first attempt.
But after finding it recently, we wondered how on earth we managed to miss it.
Maybe it had something to do with the fact that our previous attempt occurred in late Spring during a pretty dry Winter so perhaps it wasn’t flowing back then.
Nonetheless, on our most recent visit in 2010, we came during early Spring after a very wet Winter so for sure we weren’t going to miss it this time around!
This waterfall was somewhat hidden from the Backbone Trail alongside the Kanan Road, which links Hwy 1 to the 101 Freeway through the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Hiking and Scrambling to Newton Canyon Falls
After parking the car (see directions below), we followed the Backbone Trail downhill past a creek (usually dry) and towards a trail sign at a fork.
Since the Kanan Road was perched alongside and above the Backbone Trail during this stretch, it was quite noisy given the amount of traffic that the road sees.
In any case, at the fork, the Backbone Trail continued to the right, but we took the trail of use to the left.
After a minute or two on this branch trail, we had to look for one of several scrambling trails that branched to the left.
With some trial and error to find the scrambling route that we were most comfortable with, we eventually reached the bottom where we immediately were next to a stream.
Next, we pretty much scrambled our way upstream (both alongside it as well as inside it) which involved going over some deadfalls and termite-rotted trees.
After a couple of minutes of this, we were right before the base of Newton Canyon Falls.
The total hiking distance for just this falls was about a mile round trip, which was both short and sweet.
Extending the Excursion to Zuma Canyon Falls
There were actually more waterfalls in the area, but we didn’t have the time to do them nor did we feel like partaking in additional scrambling.
As suggested in our California Waterfalls book, we could have followed the stream downstream towards the top of more cascades eventually getting to another 25ft waterfall known as Zuma Falls.
Plus, had we continued on the Backbone Trail, we could’ve seen the Upper Zuma Falls which was dry on our first visit (and we didn’t take photos of it so no evidence of that either).
After 2.5 miles on the Backbone Trail, we could’ve ultimately connected with the Encinal Canyon Road.
Newton Canyon Falls resides in the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area near Malibu in Los Angeles County, California. It is administered by the the MCRA as well as the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit the MCRA website or NPS website.
There were a couple of ways to access the nearest parking lot for the Newton Canyon Falls.
Accessing Newton Canyon Falls from the coast
The first time we drove to Newton Canyon Falls, we came from the Highway 1, which began as the 10 Freeway westbound ended near the Santa Monica pier.
We then followed Hwy 1 for roughly 17 miles, where we then turned right onto Kanan Dume Road and followed it for a little over 4 miles.
We went past a tunnel where the parking lot and trailhead was close to the tunnel exit on the left side of the road.
Overall, this 24-mile drive would take about an hour.
Accessing Newton Canyon Falls from the 101
For a more Los Angeles-centric approach, we could also have also taken the 101 from its junction with the 405 freeway, which was just north past Westwood (of UCLA fame) and the Sepulveda Pass.
Anyways, we took the Kanan Road exit off the 101 Freeway, and we followed this road roughly 8 or 9 miles south past two tunnels and eventually reaching the trailhead parking for the Backbone Trail on our right just before the third tunnel.
This 38-mile drive (from the 10/405 junction via the 101 Freeway) would also take about an hour.
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