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In the San Gabriel Mountains, snowmelt and rainwater funnel down many steep slopes and collect in deep valleys.
One such drainage is Eaton Canyon, where water flows year-round, even in the dry season.
On any day of the year, a shady, streamside hike leads to Eaton Canyon Falls, a waterfall about 40 feet in height that pours from a narrow slot into an emerald pool beneath vertical rock walls. This lovely cascade was a favorite of John Muir himself, and is today loved by countless hikers in the LA area.
This is one of the region’s most popular hikes, and for good reason.
It begins in an easily accessible and free urban park with wildflowers and mountain views, then enters the forested canyon and follows tumbling waters upstream to the falls. The trailhead is in Eaton Canyon Natural Area, a Los Angeles County Park.
Park in the main lot, next to a nature center that is certainly worth a visit.
If that lot is full, an overflow lot is available nearby.
Get there as early as possible because even the overflow lot often fills up. At first, the hike is on a fire road in a broad wash.
A neighborhood lies on one side and the San Gabriel Mountains on the other, with plenty of greenery all around.
You’ll pass through a mix of shady groves and sunny meadows.
The scenery changes suddenly when a tall bridge comes in view.
It’s where a dirt road crosses Eaton Wash, right at the mouth of the canyon.
Pass beneath the bridge to enter Eaton Canyon. The trail becomes narrower and much rockier, so it’s tougher going but nearly all shaded by forest, and the creek babbles alongside.
Work your way gradually uphill, and eventually, the waterfall will appear.
You can relax on large rocks scattered around, dip your feet in the shallow pool, and find photo opportunities.
You are not likely to have this place to yourself, so please respect other users and of course the natural environment.
As always, pack out your trash and consider picking up litter that you find. Sources: https://californiathroughmylens.com/eaton-canyon-falls-la-waterfall https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eaton_Canyon https://www.ecnca.org/hiking_trails/EC_Trail_Map.pdf