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Switzer Falls

Angeles National Forest

Hike down a forested canyon to find multiple waterfalls and small swimming holes.

Hiking Moderate

5.8 km
234 m
234 m
1-2 hrs
Low Point
853 m
High Point
992 m
Switzer Falls Map

This hike right off the Angeles Crest Highway has excellently varied scenery, waterfalls, and swimming holes. It is one of the most popular waterfall hikes in the area. The trail starts along a bouldery creekside in the forest, climbs to sunny slopes with elevated views, then goes back down to the creek with cold pools beneath lovely cascades.


It begins from the popular Switzer Picnic Area. From the parking lot, the trail immediately enters the forest and crosses a bridge over Arroyo Seco, which, despite its name, is almost always flowing with water. This is the same creek that the waterfall is on, so the amount of water under the bridge crossing indicates how much will be in the falls. Very low flow means If the stream is rushing at high volume (typical in early spring), expect a more impressive waterfall but a tougher hike. The trail crosses the stream more times, but with no more bridges, so high flows make it difficult. Regardless of volume, it’s a good idea to wear sturdy shoes that can get wet.

The trail meanders alongside the creek, with these occasional crossings, in shady forest before ascending the hillside to steeper and sunnier terrain. There are drop-offs to one side of the trail, but it’s wide enough to be safe and is protected by a fence in some places. At a trail junction in a clearing that overlooks the canyon and surrounding mountains, take the left turn that descends back to the creek. In the canyon bottom, the trail turns again and goes upstream to reach the falls.

Switzer Falls is a series of waterfalls, and the trail ends at the bottom-most one—an angled drop over polished white stone. More waterfalls, including a much taller one, exist upstream, but reaching them is more difficult. It’s possible to scramble an unofficial route above the lower waterfall, but slipping and falling is a real hazard. A safer option that leads to better swimming holes is following the trail downstream and exploring the lower canyon. The most obvious and safest route, however, is the one mapped here, which turns around where the trail meets the first waterfall.

Parking at Switzer Picnic Area can be scarce, so arrive early if you can. Note that open hours are 8am-6pm in summer and 8am-4pm in winter. Outside of those times, the entry gate is closed and locked, so plan your arrival and hiking time accordingly. Like most trailheads in Angeles National Forest, a California Adventure Pass is required for entry.

Sources: https://www.world-of-waterfalls.com/waterfalls/california-switzer-falls/ https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/angeles/maps-pubs/?cid=stelprdb5318323



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between March and November


  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area