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Lakeland Village, California, United States

Chiquito Falls

A strenuous 9 mile out-and-back hike that visits two beautiful seasonal waterfalls in Orange County.

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 (5 votes, 4 reviews)
Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 8.6 miles / 13.8 km
Duration: Half day
Dog Friendly
 
Overview: When you think of hiking in Orange County, you don’t usually envision dramatic waterfalls. But during the spring, there are a number of wonderful seasonal waterfalls that are just a hike away. One of my personal favorites is Chiquito Falls.

This hike is a 9 mile out-and-back route with nearly 3,000′ of vertical elevation gain. And it’s a waterfall two-fer. You not only get the beautiful serenity of Chiquito Falls at the turnaround point, but you’ll also soak in San Juan Falls en route.


Tips: Bring the Ten Essentials. You're in the wilderness.

Watch for rattlesnakes, especially when the temperatures rise.

You'll need an Adventure Pass for parking.

Points of Interest

Parking
map

Trailhead

The trailhead for the San Juan Loop (the trail you'll be using initially) begins in the northeast corner of the parking lot.
Water
map

San Juan Falls

These falls can be crowded on weekends, mainly because they are so close to the trailhead. I suggest skipping these, leaving the crowds behind and enjoying Chiquito Falls
Junction
map

Trail Junction

Watch for a spur to the right, then boulder hop across the creek to pickup the trail.

If you connect back to Ortega Highway, you went too far.
map

Crossing a small tributary

This is usually no more than a trickle at this point. From here on, you'll begin climbing up and enjoy full sun exposure. You brought a hat and sunscreen, right?
Viewpoint
map

Soak in the panoramic view

Looking south, you can see Ortega Highway (now far below you) and Sitton Peak across the way.
Water
map

Chiquito Falls

Watch for the spur to the left that takes you to the top of the falls. The main trail continues on and hooks up with the San Juan Trail.

Chiquito Falls slows to a trickle in the summer, so the best time to visit is in the spring after the winter rains. There are great places to sit and enjoy your lunch, and you can easily boulder scramble to the bottom of the falls for some great photo ops.

From here, you'll retrace your steps to the trailhead.
Pictures in this guide taken by: jeffhester, ladyjayjay

SoCalHiker.net
Reviews
lizebee
Great trail for a day out off of the Ortega. As someone who hikes the area frequently, it is a good trail in the spring (lots of wildflowers and yuccas blooming) and the trail has some great views along the way. Unfortunately the waterfall wasn't flowing but overall the trail is still nice with changing scenery along it. Dog friendly too, even for a chihuahua. :) Happy hiking.
Visited on Apr 14, 2013

by lizebee on Apr 14, 2013
Woodie
I hiked this trail on Dec 31st and even though the falls where dry it was still a nice hike. Trail conditions where great, weather was perfect. Add this one to your list of hikes.
Visited on Dec 31, 2012

by Woodie on Jan 02, 2013
melitele
This summer Chiquito Falls didn't slow to a trickle as much as completely disappeared.
Visited on Jun 18, 2012

by melitele on Jun 22, 2012
jeffhester
I've hiked this twice now. It's best done in the spring when the creeks are running strong.
Visited on Mar 13, 2011

by jeffhester on Mar 15, 2011

Chiquito Falls Trail Map


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About the Author

jeffhester
jeffhester
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I live in Southern California, where most people are completely unaware of the hundreds of great hiking...

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