About Paradise Falls (Wildwood Falls)
Paradise Falls (also referred to as Wildwood Falls) was a lovely 40ft waterfall in the canyons of Wildwood Park. Sitting in the Thousand Oaks area, we found it wasn’t too far east of the popular shopping outlet at Camarillo.
This was the first waterfall that Julie took me to. And we had such a positive experience that we wound up seeing others in the greater Los Angeles area!Years later, we brought our daughter when she was only a year old since we didn’t have much difficulty in doing the trails to reach the falls. A couple years afterwards, we came back as our daughter could walk the whole trail on her own.
So given all these factors, I guess we found it fitting to put this falls on our list of Top 10 Southern California Waterfalls.
In the many times we’ve done this excursion, we’ve found that the shortest route required only a 2.4-mile round-trip hike. However, on our first few visits to Paradise Falls, we happened to take longer trails each of which presented new surprises or things we hadn’t noticed before.
We’ll start by describing a slightly longer loop hike that we did on our second visit because it seemed to encompass the best of what Wildwood Park and Paradise Falls had to offer.
The shortest and most direct trail only took us about 30-40 minutes in each direction. The longer trail took us between 2-3 hours at a more leisurely pace.
The Start of the Hike
From the official parking lot (see directions below), we went past a vehicle barricade and then followed a kind of wide fire road towards the junction between the Mesa Trail and the spur trail (i.e. the continuation of the fire road) leading south towards the Parking Lot No. 1.
I used to think they didn’t allow vehicular access to Parking Lot No. 1 until I noticed private vehicles going there on a visit in 2014. So I guess as long as the gate barricade wasn’t closed, then we could have driven to that other lot.
Anyhow, during this initial stretch of the hike, we enjoyed the scenery as dry rocky cliffs towered over residences with semi-arid native vegetation flanking the trail and fire roads.
Over the years, it seemed like they cleared and widened the trail because Julie and I still remember our first time we did this trail back in 2001. Back then, we heard hissing rattlesnakes hidden within a much thicker grove of brush flanking the trail. So we made sure to stay on the trail.
The Preferred Loop Route via Los Arboles Nature Center
From the Parking Lot No. 1 and its vicinity, we could have taken a more direct “shortcut” along the Moon Ridge Trail. However, we thought it was a bit narrow and too up-and-down for our mood.
So we descended further along a fire road that zigzagged its way down towards Indian Creek. Along the way, we briefly explored a spur trail that led to an attractive Indian Cave.When the trail reached the bottom of this descent, we noticed a bridge that crossed the creek and led to the Los Arboles Nature Center. We didn’t go inside so we can’t say more about it.
Continuing along the main trail, which now followed along the creek, we eventually got to where the canyon narrowed. The trail then hugged a fenced ledge perched above Indian Creek as well as some upper cascades. We also passed over the top of Paradise Falls.
Along this stretch, we saw some ducks chilling out by the creek during the peace of the morning.
Back in 2001, Julie and I spotted a rattlesnake basking in the sun at the very top of the falls. That pretty much dashed any thoughts we had of going to the waterfall’s brink at the time.
In any case, this just shows you the diversity of life that call this area home. To spot the wildlife, timing has a lot to do with it. In most of our visits, we’ve come in the morning when it tends to be quieter.
Shortly after this narrow canyon section, the trail descended some steps right to the base of Paradise Falls. I didn’t recall these steps existed back in 2001, which shows just how things can change for better or worse as time goes on.
At the base of the falls, the edge of its plunge pool marked the official end of the waterfall trail. We noticed other trails continuing further downstream into the canyon to attractions like Lizard Rock. But since we didn’t venture further downstream, we can’t say more about that either.A craggy protruding rock blocked the view of the all but the very bottom of the falls. So that compelled us to cross the creek while trying to keep the feet dry (Gore-tex boots helps).
Once we got to the other side, we enjoyed full frontal views of Paradise Falls (as you can see at the top of this page). I’d imagine that depending on Indian Creek’s flow, this stream crossing can be shallower or deeper than what we’ve described.
Thus, you may want to assess your situation before you decide to cross.
After having our fill of Paradise Falls, we went back through the narrow canyon skirting above Indian Creek. Right after the narrow section, we then went left and ascended a hill that led up to a teepee.
Note that there were two other trails that also led to this spot, which reinforces what we mentioned earlier about being able to choose your route to get from the trailhead to the waterfall.
Continuing back along the uphill trail, it eventually flattened out then gently descended to its junction with the Mesa Trail. Once we returned to the Mesa Trail, we followed it back to the parking lot.
We should mention that it was a good thing we had gotten an early start. That’s because the car park was quite full when we returned, which attested to the popularity of the falls.
The Shortest Route to Paradise Falls
When we aren’t looking to extend our hike, we often choose this 2.4-mile round trip direct approach. I believe this could very well be the official trail to the waterfall though I never recalled this trail designation on our first few visits.
Basically from the parking lot, we’d go up the short hill and follow the wide fire road (the Mesa Trail) ignoring any of the spurs nearby. Eventually after roughly a half-mile, we’d reach a fork where a branch veered to the left.Taking the left fork, we trail then gently climbed and curved before reaching its apex. Right afterwards, the trail made a fairly steep descent towards the teepee and picnic table.
There was enough loose gravel on this descent to make the footing a little on the dicey side. A good pair of hiking boots or shoes should do a better job of gripping the surface. Yet even with shoes that fit the purpose, we’ve found that it can still be slippery here.
From the teepee, we’d go right for a short distance before taking a narrow spur trail descending to the left. This trail eventually went down to the steps that went directly to the base of Paradise Falls.
After having our fill of the falls, we’d return the way we came.
Paradise Falls resides in Wildwood Park, which is part of the Conejo Recreation and Park District. For information or inquiries about this park as well as current conditions, visit the Conejo Recreation and Park District website.
To get to the trailhead from Los Angeles, take US 101 into Thousand Oaks and exit at Lynn Road. From there, you head north (turning right from the off-ramp assuming you’ve exited the 101 west), then hang a left at Avenida de Los Arboles. Park at the car park for the Wildwood Park just as the road is about to turn right into a residential area.