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Altadena, California, United States

Eaton Canyon

A short trip into Eaton Canyon for an accessible waterfall. Great wildflowers in the spring, too!

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 (6 votes, 4 reviews)
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 3.8 miles / 6.1 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly
 
Overview: This is a relatively easy less-than-four mile hike to a 40-foot waterfall. Its proximity to civilization and short distance make this a very popular trail for casual hikers, and it can get very crowded on the weekends and on hot summer days - but it's worth a visit even if you have to fight through crowds - especially when spring wildflowers carpet the lower portions of the canyon floor.

This family-friendly trail will be easy for most, although it gets more rugged the closer you get to the waterfall. There are several stream crossings and areas of boulder-hopping, but they should be manageable for most people.

There is also an excellent Nature Center near the trailhead, with great exhibits and many free presentations for those who are interested.


Tips: Try to hike during a weekday, when you won't have to deal with as many other hikers. If you can only hike on a weekend, get to the trailhead as early as you can.

The area near the Eaton Canyon Nature Center and the sections of the trail before the actual canyon have plenty of wildflowers in the spring. Don't forget your camera!

Points of Interest

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Park and Trailhead

Park near the Eaton Canyon Nature Center, hike to the north end of the parking lot and join the wide dirt road heading north.

In the spring, this area can be rich with wildflowers.
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Picnic Area

At about 480 feet, pass a picnic area and continue north on the broad, wide path.
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Cross Wash

Cross a wide and rocky wash to the northeast side.

Depending on the weather and time of year, there may or may not be water flowing here. Most often, there is only a small stream in one of the center channels.

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Stay Left

After crossing the wash, stay left to continue on the main fire road, ignoring the faint trails that head northeast and southeast.
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Continue Straight

Continue straight on the wide dirt road, ignoring the more narrow path heading to the northeast.

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Waterfall Trail

At this three way junction, stay left, following the clearly marked sign for the Waterfall.

Hiking to the right will keep you on the Eaton Canyon Trail as it switchbacks up to the old Mount Wilson Toll Road - a very long and mostly shadeless route to the summit of Mount Wilson.

Continue hiking northwest. The trail gets closer to the wash as it gets closer to the narrowing walls of Eaton Canyon.
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Landslide Debris

Here, the trail passes through the rubble and debris from a recent landslide. The trail may still be under construction, but it should be passable. Continue north.
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Under the Bridge

Keep left at the three way junction here and take the trail that heads under the concrete bridge and into Eaton Canyon.

Up until now, the trail you've been hiking on has been broad and flat. Once it enters Eaton Canyon, however, it becomes much more rugged. You'll be doing a bit more boulder-hopping across creeks and uneven ground. Be sure to wear good boots!
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Eaton Canyon

Here, the trail enters Eaton Canyon proper.

From here on out, the trail is single-track, rocky, and very prone to crossing the Eaton Canyon creek. Be prepared for scrambling, boulder-hopping, or creek-crossing!

In the canyon, the trail is not nearly as well-defined as it is in the southern areas of the park - but don't worry about getting lost. There are no easily-passable side canyons in the lower stretch of Eaton Canyon, so just stay in the main canyon and continue forward and you'll be on the right path.

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Use Trail to Top of Waterfall

Continue on the trail on the canyon floor, ignoring a faint use-trail that scrambles up the west side of the canyon wall here. This use-trail will take you above the waterfall, but the route is very dangerous and should only be attempted by experienced off-trail hikers -- and even then at their own risk. Hikers are injured and killed on this off-trail route almost every year.
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Eaton Canyon Falls

At 1.9 miles, reach Eaton Canyon Falls, a 40-foot cascade into Eaton Canyon.

There's a small, shaded pool at the base of the falls - which can get especially crowded on weekends and hot summer days.

This mist from the falls can significantly cool this area if the sun's not getting through the canyon, so you may not want to linger depending on how many layers you brought with you.

When you're done enjoying the scenery or taking a dip, return back to the trailhead the way you came in.
Pictures in this guide taken by: modernhiker
Reviews
ericko1207
Anyone know if there's water flowing this year? anyone who's been here recently?:) would appreciate the inside scoop, thank you.

by ericko1207 on Apr 04, 2014
dedantz27
Awesome Waterfalls!!!! I don't recommend for young children, under 7, streams can be somewhat difficult for them to cross... If your not paying attention for hidden signs you will completly miss the signage marked for the falls... Once you get to the falls it's a great place to relax and eat lunch before heading back...
Visited on Feb 06, 2011

by dedantz27 on Mar 07, 2011
PaintedRed
The beginning of the hike was easy but I don't recommend taking kids younger than 6, it's hard getting across some of the streams but well work the hike to the falls.
Visited on Feb 06, 2011

by PaintedRed on Feb 25, 2011
MarkEd2010
Hello hikers! Do you guys know whats out there after the second waterfall in Eaton Canyon?

by MarkEd2010 on Jul 22, 2010

Eaton Canyon Trail Map


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