Stoddard Canyon Falls

Angeles National Forest / Mt Baldy, California, USA

About Stoddard Canyon Falls


Hiking Distance: about 1.2 miles round-trip
Suggested Time: allow 1.5-2 hours

Date first visited: 2024-04-28
Date last visited: 2024-04-28

Waterfall Latitude: 34.21983
Waterfall Longitude: -117.66539

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Stoddard Canyon Falls was one of those waterfalls that largely escaped our attention prior to the COVID-19 pandemic even though it was on the slopes of the well-visited Mt Baldy.

When I first became aware of this place during the COVID-19 pandemic, I got the sense that it was one of those locals-in-the-know kind of spots since it wasn’t in any of my guide books nor my topo maps.

Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_059_04282024 - Stoddard Canyon Falls
Stoddard Canyon Falls

In fact, according to my topo maps, it turned out that Stoddard Canyon Falls was in Barrett Canyon and not Stoddard Canyon as I would have expected.

I think it’s this apparent misnaming of the waterfall that made this place even trickier to find on a map without already being told in advance or given GPS coordinates.

What’s even more amazing about this place’s obscurity was that it essentially sat next to a paved road that might have been the old Mt Baldy Road running parallel to the Barrett-Stoddard Road.

The Barrett-Stoddard Road used to go to Stoddard’s Camp, which was an 1886 retreat that was one of the first resorts set up on the slopes of Mt Baldy.

Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_032_04282024 - The trail to Stoddard Canyon Falls was on a paved road opposite San Antonio Creek from the Barrett-Stoddard Road
The trail to Stoddard Canyon Falls was on a paved road opposite San Antonio Creek from the Barrett-Stoddard Road

In any case, as soon as I started seeing a listing (or at least a posting of it) on AllTrails, I knew that it was a matter of time before this place blew up.

Sure enough, as of Summer 2023, it showed up on the socials (and even on the LA Times; though there were some postings about it on the internet since 2017), and now this place has become quite popular.

We managed to confirm its popularity when we first came here in late April 2024, despite the conditions being a bit dangerous (which I’ll explain later).

Now the main drop of the Stoddard Canyon Falls was said to be about 40ft tall on San Antonio Creek, but I understand that if the plunge pool was deep enough, then some daring folks would actually use the waterfall as a water slide!

Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_108_04282024 - Even if getting to the main waterfall was too risky (like it was in high flow when this photo was taken), there were still opportunities to swim or at least cool off further downstream
Even if getting to the main waterfall was too risky (like it was in high flow when this photo was taken), there were still opportunities to swim or at least cool off further downstream

Even if you didn’t partake in using this waterfall as a water slide, there were plenty of plunge pools and sections on this hike where it was possible to cool off and go for a swim further downstream of the main falls.

In any case, I can just imagine that this waterfall’s popularity combined with the rugged terrain that it’s situated in would make future accidents and more aggressive land management policies an eventuality.

Heck, it was already pretty obvious that urban blight definitely hit this canyon hard though it had been tagged even before it blew up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accessing Stoddard Canyon Falls

On paper, it seems pretty straightforward to reach the Stoddard Canyon Falls from the trailhead (see directions below).

Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_076_04282024 - Getting in front of the main drop of Stoddard Canyon Falls requires stream- and boulder scrambling due to a combination of rugged terrain and the creek's orientation facing away from the trail
Getting in front of the main drop of Stoddard Canyon Falls requires stream- and boulder scrambling due to a combination of rugged terrain and the creek’s orientation facing away from the trail

After all, the waterfall seems to be just about 0.6-mile from the trailhead along a partially-paved Barrett-Stoddard Road, which is now a hiking trail.

However, the waterfall resides in a narrow and rugged canyon so in order to even get in front of it, we have to go into the bottom of that terrain, and that’s where variables come into play.

First, in order to get into the canyon, we had to walk nearly a mile along the partially-paved road, where we had to watch out for potholes, eroded off sections, and sections buried by landslides.

Along the way near some stone railings at a bend, we could already spot where the brink of the main drop of the Stoddard Canyon Falls was.

Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_004_iPhone_04282024 - Even though San Antonio Creek was in high flow, one woman managed to get to a rock above the brink of the falls via a scramble that I'd imagine water sliders would be taking to access
Even though San Antonio Creek was in high flow, one woman managed to get to a rock above the brink of the falls via a scramble that I’d imagine water sliders would be taking to access

This was also the spot where people would enter the “slide” though no one did that on our first visit due to the high flow of San Antonio Creek.

Eventually after continuing further on the paved road, we got to a part where we could essentially scramble down to the level of San Antonio Creek.

There are steep paths to choose from with the closest ones to the main falls being very sketchy (i.e. loose rocks and steep terrain) while we found the approaches further downstream to be more manageable (albeit still not without risk).

Once at the level of the creek, we’d have to scramble upstream in the creek (involving clinging to slippery ledges, climbing intermediate waterfalls, and even crossing the creek a few times).

Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_080_04282024 - Some parts of the road (or hiking trail) were both eroded and buried under landslides, which resulted in obstacles to overcome
Some parts of the road (or hiking trail) were both eroded and buried under landslides, which resulted in obstacles to overcome

After 0.3-mile of creek scrambling and mild bouldering, we’d eventually reach an alcove at a dead-end right where the main waterfall drops into.

Overall, this hike would take about 1.2 miles in total, which I’d imagine would take about 90 minutes to two hours to complete comfortably.

Best Time To Visit Stoddard Canyon Falls

It turned out that on our first visit to Stoddard Canyon Falls, which happened in late April 2024, we didn’t make it to the end.

This was due to high water flow from a lot of the snow that accumulated during February and March, where we got pretty much a year’s worth of precipitation within less than 2 months.

Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_099_04282024 - Getting up to the main drop of Stoddard Canyon Falls requires a combination of stream scrambling and clinging to ledges, which carried a lot of risk when the water levels were high (like in this photo)
Getting up to the main drop of Stoddard Canyon Falls requires a combination of stream scrambling and clinging to ledges, which carried a lot of risk when the water levels were high (like in this photo)

I saw how the water levels were at least thigh-deep to waist-deep with a strong current, which was too much risk that I was willing to take on.

Thus, I’d imagine that this would be a more appropriate scramble to attempt during the Summer months on a wet year like during our first attempt.

That way, we could take advantage of how the snowmelt would have mostly been exhausted and not as much water would be funneled into this narrow gorge (except during a flash flood from a pop-up thunderstorm).

Indeed, my general sentiment would be to do the nearby San Antonio Falls when the snowmelt volume would be high (especially the Spring months).

Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_105_04282024 - San Antonio Creek had a lot of water so the depth was at least thigh-deep with a strong current during our late April 2024 visit
San Antonio Creek had a lot of water so the depth was at least thigh-deep with a strong current during our late April 2024 visit

However, do Stoddard Canyon Falls when the snowmelt volume would be much lower (typically in the Summer months or earlier on a year with less precipitation).

As a point of reference, the year 2024 was pretty much like 2023 (i.e. heavy precipitation years), so I’d bet that the late Summer months would be that sweet spot of not having too much waterflow while also getting relief from the Summer heat.

In drier years (such as the drought years of 2007-2009, 2012-2016, and 2020-2022), there may not be that much water in San Antonio Creek by mid- to late Summer.

Authorities

Stoddard Canyon Falls resides in the San Bernardino National Forest near Mt Baldy in San Bernardino 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.

Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_004_04282024 - On our late April 2024 visit, we managed to find parking across the Barrett-Stoddard Road turnoff. The spots filled up really fast because this area was only half full when we first showed up!
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_009_04282024 - Looking back at the descending ramp in context with the busy limited parking area near the trailhead for Stoddard Canyon Falls on our late April 2024 visit
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_012_04282024 - An unpaved road continued beyond the nearest trailhead parking, went by this substation, and ultimately arrived at an unpaved parking area across San Antonio Creek
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_018_04282024 - It looked like the parking situation was tight enough that some people managed to park illegally over the red lines right at the Stoddard Canyon Falls Trailhead during our late April 2024 visit
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_021_04282024 - Julie and Tahia starting on the paved road that was now the Stoddard Canyon Falls Trail
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_027_04282024 - Julie and Tahia continuing to walk along the paved road that was the Stoddard Canyon Falls Trail
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_028_04282024 - Looking upstream towards some remnant snow on the mountaintops in the distance as seen from the Stoddard Canyon Falls Trail during our late April 2024 visit
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_029_04282024 - Context of the unpaved spillover parking on the other side of San Antonio Creek seen early on during our hike to the Stoddard Canyon Falls in late April 2024
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_030_04282024 - Julie and Tahia continuing along the mostly-paved trail leading closer to Stoddard Canyon Falls
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_045_04282024 - Context of some tagged pipe fronting San Antonio Creek and a road bridge with an interior that appears to have been tagged with graffiti
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_046_04282024 - Zoomed in focused look at the tagged road bridge near the Stoddard Canyon Falls Trail
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_054_04282024 - Looking down towards a couple that was scoping out the access to the brink of Stoddard Canyon Falls despite the high flow of San Antonio Creek during our late April 2024 visit
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_056_04282024 - Looking back at the context of the paved Stoddard Canyon Falls Trail with a ledge that people followed to get down to the brink of the Stoddard Canyon Falls
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_057_04282024 - Context of the bend in the road pretty much adjacent and above the main drop of Stoddard Canyon Falls, which was unseen from this vantage point
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_063_04282024 - Looking down towards the brink of Stoddard Canyon Falls in high flow during our late April 2024 visit
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_012_iPhone_04282024 - Portrait look down at the brink of Stoddard Canyon Falls in high flow as seen in late April 2024
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_074_04282024 - Looking down at a couple of dudes who managed to make it to the front of the Stoddard Canyon Falls, but given the amount of people here, it was telling that very few people made it that far during our late April 2024 visit
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_016_iPhone_04282024 - Context of the alcove containing the main drop of the Stoddard Canyon Falls during our late April 2024 visit
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_078_04282024 - Continuing along the Stoddard Canyon Falls Trail beyond the bend in the road with a glimpse of where the main drop of the falls was at
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_081_04282024 - Closer look at the road erosion and the steepness of the cliff below it, which made descending to the San Antonio Creek rather sketchy here
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_084_04282024 - Looking back at the eroded road partially buried by a landslide on the way to the Stoddard Canyon Falls
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_086_04282024 - Looking at the context of the Stoddard Canyon Falls Trail and some neighboring mountains in the distance
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_088_04282024 - Looking right down at the approach that I ended up taking to get down to San Antonio Creek from the paved road
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_017_iPhone_04282024 - More contextual look back at the 'easiest' approach to San Antonio Creek, which shows that even this way was steep and slippery (so imagine just how much dicier the other approaches would be that were closer to the falls)
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_091_04282024 - Looking at the scramble in front of me alongside and within San Antonio Creek in high flow as seen in late April 2024
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_094_04282024 - Getting to a part where the people that went ahead of me during our late April 2024 visit ended up stopping due to the deep and fast-moving creek crossings that they had to tackle to continue further upstream to the Stoddard Canyon Falls
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_097_04282024 - Context of the narrowing of Barrett Canyon and the inevitable crossings of San Antonio Creek to get up to Stoddard Canyon Falls (as seen in late April 2024)
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_100_04282024 - Looking ahead at a family that was crossing the creek on the way back after an unsuccessful attempt at getting up to the main drop of Stoddard Canyon Falls in late April 2024
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_101_04282024 - Back on the paved road as I made my way back to the trailhead after deciding it wasn't worth the risk to push my luck going up to the base of Stoddard Canyon Falls in high flow in late April 2024
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_102_04282024 - Looking down at the context of people besides San Antonio Creek in high flow not really chancing it going further upstream during our late April 2024 visit
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_103_04282024 - Another contextual look at San Antonio Creek where people stopped while surrounded by mountains and forest scenery in late April 2024
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_110_04282024 - Some fallen boulders on the pavement reminding us that things can and do fall from the mountain when you have steep terrain like this at Stoddard Canyon Falls
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_116_04282024 - During our visit in late April 2024, we saw lots of people dressed as if they were going to play in the water, but they were clearly unprepared for the rugged terrain they'd have to get through in order to earn it
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_122_04282024 - By the time we got back to this look into the base of the main drop of Stoddard Canyon Falls, we saw that there were now three other people that made the sketchy scramble to the end during our late April 2024 visit
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_123_04282024 - Following Julie past this buried part of the paved road on the way back to the trailhead for Stoddard Canyon Falls during our late April 2024 visit
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_124_04282024 - Looking back at a larger group of unprepared people who are probably about to get a bit of a reality check when it comes to getting up to the base of Stoddard Canyon Falls in late April 2024
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_136_04282024 - Closeup look at a lizard that we spotted on the paved Stoddard Canyon Falls Trail in late April 2024
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_138_04282024 - Almost making it back to the trailhead for Stoddard Canyon Falls to end our unsuccessful late April 2024 visit
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_139_04282024 - When we almost made it back to the trailhead for Stoddard Canyon Falls, we saw that the parking situation was definitely a lot worse than when we got started during our late April 2024 visit
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_140_04282024 - Finally making it back to the trailhead for the Stoddard Canyon Falls in late April 2024
Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_146_04282024 - Looking south at a somewhat blind turn near where we had to cross the Mt Baldy Road to get to our parked car at the end of our late April 2024 visit


To get to Stoddard Canyon Falls, we’d pretty much follow the same directions as that of San Antonio Falls to at least get to Mt Baldy Road.

So we’d basically take the 210 East Freeway, get off at Base Line Road, then head north on Padua Road, which hooks up with Mt Baldy Road.

Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_006_04282024 - The ramp leading down to the closest parking to the trailhead for Stoddard Canyon Falls
The ramp leading down to the closest parking to the trailhead for Stoddard Canyon Falls

From there, we’d then follow Mt Baldy Road towards the Barrett-Stoddard Road turnoff (6 miles from the Padua Road-Mt Baldy Road intersection).

Note that this turnoff is about 3.6 miles north of the Shinn Road (North Mountain Ave) turnoff, about 1.2 miles south of Baldy Village, and 5.4 miles south of the San Antonio Falls Trailhead.

There is a limited parking area at the base of a ramp immediately to the right after leaving Mt Baldy Road, and this would be the closest parking area for the Stoddard Canyon Falls trailhead.

I saw some people continue beyond this parking area, drive over San Antonio Creek, and then park at an unpaved area shortly after the creek crossing.

Stoddard_Canyon_Falls_015_04282024 - On the other side of San Antonio Creek was another parking area on an unpaved road
On the other side of San Antonio Creek was another parking area on an unpaved road

Finally, we also found parking at a large pullout opposite the turnoff for the Barrett-Stoddard Road (on the west side of Mt Baldy Road).

By the way, it’s worth noting that one name in the road’s nomenclature comes from William H Stoddard, who had set up one of the first resorts in the vicinity of Mt Baldy.

It’s unclear to me where the Barrett name came from though it has been associated with a mine in addition to the canyon that Stoddard Canyon Falls is situated in.

For context, Mt Baldy is 14 miles (over 30 minutes drive) north of Ontario, 43 miles (about 1 hour drive) northwest of Riverside, 47 miles (about 90 minutes drive depending on traffic) northeast of downtown Los Angeles, and 49 miles (about 90 minutes drive depending on traffic) north of Irvine.

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Upstream to downstream sweep above the brink of the main falls in high flow


Short video focusing on the alcove where the main falls spills into with a pair of people managing to make it up there in high water flow

Tagged with: angeles national forest, baldy, rancho cucamonga, fontana, san antonio, claremont, pomona, san bernardino, riverside, southern california, california, waterfall



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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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