About Paradise Falls (Wildwood Falls)
Paradise Falls (also referred to as Wildwood Falls) was a lovely 40ft waterfall in the canyons of Wildwood Park.
It was also the first waterfall that Julie and I visited together, 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 and even on subsequent visits when she was old enough to hike unassisted.
We’ve also shared this experience with my parents so visiting Paradise Falls was definitely a family-friendly affair.
Sitting in the Thousand Oaks area well west of the Los Angeles basin, this waterfall also tended to reside in an area with a bit of a hot and dry climate.
However, this seemed like one of the rare waterfalls that somehow managed to thrive in this climate.
Each time we’ve visited Paradise Falls (at least a half-dozen times or more), the waterfall has performed nicely (including a visit in the Autumn so we can confidently say it flows year-round).
Given all these factors, I guess we found it fitting to put this falls on our list of Top 10 Southern California Waterfalls.
Over the years that we’ve hiked to this waterfall, we gravitated towards two different approaches.
The first approach was perhaps the most popular option because it went directly to Paradise Falls.
The second approach was the more scenic route as it allowed us to explore a Native American cave, a narrow canyon alongside Indian Creek, and some additional trail options to vary up scenery on the return hike.
Paradise Falls Trail Description – The Mesa Trail and North Teepee Trail Approach
In my mind, this was the most direct approach to Paradise Falls, and it required only a 2.4-mile round-trip hike from the main parking lot.
It started from the main entrance (see directions below), then followed the Mesa Trail and North Teepee Trail before arriving at Paradise Falls.
This route basically formed an upside-down L shape, and most of its net 250ft drop in elevation came right at the end.
From the main parking lot, we followed the obvious trail to the right.
It briefly climbed a short hill, then it descended towards a wide unpaved road about 0.2 miles from the start.
That road turned out to be part of the Public Access Road to the other parking lot, which we can get more into in the directions section.
But for the intent of the hike from the main parking lot, this road made up about 0.1-mile of the overall Mesa Trail stretch.
The Mesa Trail continued straight past a vehicle barricade while the Public Access Road veered sharply to the left.
So keeping right to stay on the Mesa Trail, we then continued on a flat and open area for the next 0.2 miles.
To our right were the namesake mesas towering over us.
Depending on the conditions, wildflowers could color the foothills yellow and purple.
To our left were some natural gas pipelines as well as prickly bush.
Then, the Mesa Trail made a junction with the North Teepee Trail.
We left the Mesa Trail and took the North Teepee Trail, which passed by a junction with the Stagecoach Bluff Trail before passing by another junction with the Moon Ridge Trail.
The trail then descended steeply at roughly 80-120ft elevation loss to the namesake Teepee.
This sturdy Teepee was not a genuine Native American shelter as it acted more like a resting and picnic area.
It sat at a three-way junction roughly a half-mile from where we left the Mesa Trail.
Next, we’d keep right at the Teepee to follow the Teepee Trail for the next 0.2 miles as the trail continued descending.
We noticed the contours of Wildwood Canyon on our left during this stretch, where we often see wildflowers in bloom here in the Spring.
The trail then reached another signed junction, where we left the Teepee Trail and descended on the direct downhill trail.
After a couple of switchbacks, this downhill trail would intersect with the Wildwood Canyon Trail.
We then continued down steps before reaching the banks of Indian Creek and the plunge pool of Paradise Falls.
The edge of this plunge pool marked the official end of the waterfall trail.
We noticed other trails continuing further downstream into the canyon to attractions like Lizard Roc, but since we didn’t venture further downstream, we can’t say more about that.
A craggy protruding rock blocked the view of all but the very bottom of Paradise 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 this falls, we had the option of extending our hike or just going back the way we came.
This out-and-back hike was by far the most popular way to experience Paradise Falls as evidenced by the increasing volume of people doing it this way over the years.
It normally would take us about 30-40 minutes each way so I’d budget at least about 90 minutes.
Paradise Falls Trail Description – The Wildwood Canyon Trail and Moonridge Trail Approach
This second option for approaching Paradise Falls started from a spillover parking lot (though we have also done it from the main parking lot).
In the past, this spillover lot was labeled “Parking Lot No.1”.
From this parking lot, we could peer down in the distance at the Teepee picnic area and shelter.
We could also look in the opposite direction at the mesas in the distance towards the Mesa Trail.
Anyways, the hike started off by descending a pair of gentle curves on its way towards Indian Creek.
This descending stretch went for about 0.3 miles to a spur trail just before a footbridge over Indian Creek.
That spur trail led about 0.1-mile to the foot of the Indian Cave, which was basically more like a natural alcove or shelter.
However, there was a small crawl-space opening at its longest end, and there appeared to be a use-trail that continued back uphill from the other end of this opening.
After having our fill of this cave, we went back down and returned to the footbridge.
On the other side of the footbridge, there were other trails like the Indian Creek Trail to the left as well as the Meadows Picnic Area.
There also seemed to be some informal connectors to the Lynnmere Trail.
Just uphill and around a bend was the Meadows Center, which was an amphitheater that would typically host ranger talks or programs under the stars.
There was also a toilet facility with flush toilets.
Back across the bridge, we then followed Indian Creek downstream along the Wildwood Canyon Trail.
After about 0.2 miles from the footbridge, there was a spur trail climbing uphill on the Teepee Trail eventually leading 0.2 miles up to the Teepee itself.
That said, we continued on the Wildwood Canyon Trail where there was a picnic area right at a bend in the trail alongside Indian Creek.
The park map indicated that there was a Little Falls here, but I honestly didn’t see much in the way of a notable waterfall.
Next, the Wildwood Canyon Trail continued into its narrowest section where it followed a ledge flanked by cacti on one side and fences with dropoffs on the other.
Down below us remained Indian Creek but we started to see some small upper cascades of Paradise Falls.
Eventually, the trail would join up with a trail junction connecting the spur trail from the Teepee Trail and the descent to the Paradise Falls.
After having our fill of the falls, we then went all the way up to the Teepee Trail instead of taking the Wildwood Canyon Trail back.
At about 0.2 miles east on the Teepee Trail, we reached the namesake Teepee.
Then, we hiked uphill on the North Teepee Trail for about 0.1-mile before veering onto the Moonridge Trail.
The Moonridge Trail was about a half-mile in distance, and it ultimately took us back to the spillover parking lot.
This trail was much quieter than the other wider trails we had walked on to this point.
Thus, we were able to observe more wildflowers, cacti, and the odd views back towards the mesas since we were hiking on an undulating ridge.
Overall, the distance we covered was probably on the order of a little over 2 miles to cover this entire loop.
Had we started from the main parking lot, then this hike would have been at least over three miles round trip.
Like with the primary option, we spent between 90 minutes and two hours at a leisurely pace.
Paradise Falls resides in Wildwood Park, which is part of the Conejo Recreation and Park District in Thousand Oaks of Ventura County, California. It is administered jointly by the community of Conejo Valley and the City of Thousand Oaks. For information or inquiries about this park as well as current conditions, visit the Conejo Recreation and Park District website.
To get to the Paradise Falls trailhead from Los Angeles, we took the US 101 into Thousand Oaks and exited at Lynn Road.
From there, we headed north (turning right from the off-ramp as we’ve exited the 101 west), then we hung a left at Avenida de Los Arboles.
We followed the Avenida de Los Arboles until the street was about to bend into a residential area.
The main parking lot for Wildwood Park was on the left.
To continue to the spillover parking lot, if the gate was open, there was an unpaved road on the southeast side of the lot.
This “Public Access Road” made a bend to the right before coinciding with the Mesa Trail briefly.
After 0.3 miles from the main parking lot, the unpaved road then veered to the left and continued for the final 0.3 miles to the spillover parking lot (formerly called “Parking Lot No.1”).
Just to give you some context of the driving distances, Thousand Oaks was about 13 miles (15 minutes drive) east of Camarillo, 41 miles (under 60 minutes drive depending on traffic) west of downtown Los Angeles, 56 miles (about an hour drive) east of Santa Barbara, and 81 miles (about 90 minutes drive) northwest of Irvine.
Finally, if you’re looking to find something about the Paradise Falls that was featured in the heartfelt movie Up, you’ll want to check out Angel Falls. You may notice a pretty uncanny resemblance! 🙂
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