Escape Los Angeles' City Life At This Magnificent Local-Favorite Waterfall Hike

Hiking along rocky terrain, wading through cool water, and hearing the sounds of a rushing waterfall – this probably isn't a scene you picture close to the heart of Los Angeles. However, the trailhead for the popular Eaton Canyon Falls hike waits less than a half-hour drive from the city. Roads and cars give way to boulders and trees and the namesake falls crashing down into the stream below, making the location ideal for getting away from LA for the afternoon — but maybe not the crowds.


California has gorgeous, otherworldly national parks, but unless you want to drive 12 hours, you should pick something a little closer to the city. Eaton Canyon Falls could be the perfect day trip. In fact, the entire hike only takes about 45 minutes, but it might require more of a time investment if you want to stop, admire the scenery, snap some photos, and enjoy the scenery with your friends, family, or dog. If you prefer solitude in nature, you'll likely have to range farther afield to find it. However, If you come early in the day on a weekday, you could get a little patch of trail for yourself.

Hiking Eaton Canyon Falls

The Eaton Canyon Falls hike starts as more of a walk, traveling along flat land with your fellow nature lovers — and there will be other trekkers. Even if you arrive early, you will likely encounter lots of people already out enjoying the area. However, the trail is fairly wide and flat, so you probably won't have anybody jostling you for space, even on a crowded day.


As the trail continues, it gets more natural. Between walking in the shade of trees and admiring wildflowers, you'll find yourself hopping across streams or, if you prefer, wading into the refreshing water. You'll see some little cascades along the way, but they pale in comparison to the impressive force of nature that awaits you.

While they don't reach the impressive height of the falls at the underrated Devil's Postpile, you shouldn't underestimate the torrents at Eaton Canyon, which boast a height of 40 feet. The water surges down the rocky canyon and into a pool below. Even if you don't want to enter the pool, the sound of the cascades hitting the surface and the spray of the water on your face make the journey worth it.


Staying safe on the trail

While it has a reputation as an easy, fun, and family-friendly trail, the Eaton Canyon Falls hike can get tricky under certain conditions. Though not a wild, rugged trail like California's Lost Coast, its proximity to the hustle and bustle of LA and short distance can deceive visitors. Bad weather introduces the risk of flash flooding on the trail, but enthusiastic hikers often ignore posted warnings and try to see the falls anyway.


Going deeper into nature to get away from the crowds may be tempting. However, you should always stay on the marked trails. Some hikers may try to climb up the canyon in search of more natural wonders; yet, as soon as you step off the path, this goes from a generally safe to a risky endeavor. People have gotten injured and even died attempting to climb sheer canyon walls and scramble up steep rocky slopes. As long as you stay on the trail, Eaton Canyon Falls is an easy day trip from LA.