About Placerita Creek Falls
Placerita Creek Falls (also known as the Los Pinetos Waterfall since it was near the Los Pinetos Canyon) was a quaint and secluded 25ft sloping waterfall.
We definitely had to earn our visit with a bit of a hike and scramble as well as some good fortune with the timing.
Indeed, this was one of those waterfalls that we had procrastinated on visiting for one reason or another as a result of circumstances that didn’t favor it until January 2019.
With the falls being close to the I-5 and Hwy 14 junction in Newhall, we had always had opportunities to check it out, especially when driving up the Hwy 395.
However, we had never bothered to stop by or make the detour due to drought as well as the lack of faith that the falls would be performing when we finally had some time to stop by.
Typically, we’d be on a long drive to reach the Eastern Sierras (especially in the Summer) when the falls would likely not be flowing.
Regardless, when we finally did get a chance to visit the Placerita Creek Falls, we found the experience to be pleasant as we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
That said, we did have to hike a round-trip distance of 2.4 miles from the Walker Ranch Trailhead, which involved a fair bit of stream scrambling and route-finding.
It took us nearly two hours to do the hike as a result of the fairly rough hiking, especially towards the end in the confines of Placerita Canyon.
There also seemed to be more people at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, where a longer 5.5-mile round-trip hike involving the same obstacles we had to go through could have been done for a more involved adventure.
Placerita Creek Falls Trail Description – from the Walker Ranch Trailhead to the Waterfall Trail
From the gate at the Walker Ranch Trailhead, we followed the closed road down to the Placerita Creek basin.
We then traversed a wash that clearly had water in it during our visit, but I’d imagine that at most other times, this wash would typically be dry.
On the other side of the wash, we then kept left at a trail junction.
The right fork of this junction was the so-called Canyon Trail that led past the picnic area and would eventually return to the busy Placerita Canyon Nature Center (i.e. the longer aforementioned hike).
Going past the signage indicating that we were now on the waterfall trail, the open terrain briefly followed alongside Placerita Creek.
Eventually, the trail signage had us going up a slope and some steps before following along a ledge.
The ledge trail eventually descended back down alongside the Placerita Creek after going past some signposted patches of poison oak, which were apparently quite common in this area.
As the canyon walls closed in and the trail once again followed alongside the creek side-by-side, it didn’t take long before we encountered a cascade obstacle.
If we didn’t care about getting our feet wet, I’m sure some people would be tempted to climb directly up this waterfall.
However, we saw that we were able to climb up the left side of this cascade.
Although the footing was slippery, there were enough flat spots to get a foothold to continue climbing.
Placerita Creek Falls Trail Description – the stream scramble adventure
Beyond the first cascade obstacle, the trail pretty much crossed the Placerita Creek several times.
In some stretches, the trail briefly climbed up above the creek’s embankments before going back down and across the running water.
However, there was one particular noteworthy spot where we went up some steps on the left side of Placerita Creek.
Above these steps, the trail narrowly hugged a ledge that became badly eroded the further we went.
Eventually, we saw that continuing on in this manner was unsafe so we had to backtrack and just do the stream scramble once we got back to stream level.
Not long after stream scrambling beyond this misleading stairs to the ledge, the trail then encountered a confluence with some unnamed creek.
We kept right at this junction to continue on the main Placerita Creek.
We did notice that someone put graffiti on a rock saying “Dat Way” leading into the unnamed creek.
Whether there really was something in that direction or if it was just a gangster’s joke would be left to the interested adventurer as we didn’t bother pursuing it.
After a final bend around to the left on Placerita Creek, we finally arrived at the sloping Placerita Creek Falls.
There was a closure sign a few yards before the base of the falls.
However, it appeared to be there to discourage people from getting all the way up to the falls or to attempt to climb beyond the falls.
Placerita Creek Falls sat in the Placerita Canyon County Park near Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County, California. It is administered by the County of Los Angeles. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit their website.
Placerita Creek Falls could be accessed from either the Placerita Canyon Nature Center or from the Walker Ranch Trailhead – both of which were near Newhall in Santa Clarita.
We’ll describe the directions to both since they’re close to each other.
From downtown Los Angeles, we’d drive northwest on the I-5 for about 23 miles before eventually leaving the Los Angeles Basin shortly after the I-405 joins up with it near Sylmar.
Keeping to the rightmost lanes, we then took the Hwy 14 (Antelope Highway) north before leaving the freeway at the Placerita Canyon Road exit (roughly 2 miles from the start of the Hwy 14).
Once on Placerita Canyon Road, we turned right to go east and follow this road for a few minutes.
At about 1.5 miles east on Placerita Canyon Road, there was the well-signed turnoff for the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, which would yield the longer hike to Placerita Creek Falls.
However, continuing on Placerita Canyon Road for another 1.5 miles, we then reached a gate for the Walker Ranch Trailhead.
Since there was no parking allowed around that gate, we had to go a little further to the east where there was a pullout with enough room for perhaps a half-dozen or more cars.
Once we got out of the car, we then walked back towards the gate and descended onto the trail from there.
To give you a sense of context and distances, Santa Clarita was 37 miles southwest of Palmdale, about 110 miles (under 90 minutes drive) south of Bakersfield, and 33 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
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