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Hermit Falls has one of the nicest little swimming holes near LA, and it’s not hard to get to.
A downhill hike through the forest leads to a granite-lined pool fed by a small waterfall.
The trail begins from Chantry Flat, same as the separate hike to Sturtevant Falls.
Though Hermit Falls is a shorter journey, it tends to be less crowded than the ever-popular Sturtevant.
That’s not to say you’ll have it to yourself, however.
Hermit is still a well-known spot, especially among younger crowds that come to swim and kill time during summer. If you are most interested in the waterfall, the best season is spring when it flows the highest, and when fewer people visit.
Stream crossings along the trail can be difficult at that time, however, because they are not bridged.
If you are most interested in swimming, come in summer when it’s hot.
The pools hold cool water all year, but the waterfall slows to a trickle or even dries up by late summer.
Cliff jumping is popular at Hermit Falls, with heights from 5 to 40 feet possible.
The taller jumps are dangerous, however, because the deep-water landing zone is small.
Most of the hike is straightforward, beginning on the paved fire road, then departing at a signed junction for a footpath.
This trail switchbacks down a sunny slope then reaches shade in the leafy canyon bottom.
Turning downstream, the trail passes a few private cabins and check dams, and crosses the stream a few times.
Finally, a short spur trail leads to the waterfall and ends at the uppermost tier.
This is a fine place to relax and dip your feet, but an even better view and more ideal swimming hole are found lower down.
Reaching that spot requires hands-and-feet scrambling down smooth rocks, however.
If you aren’t comfortable with this additional obstacle, you can still enjoy the view from above. The area has suffered some abuse from disrespectful users, unfortunately.
Rocks near the waterfall have been marred by graffiti, and garbage is usually common along the trail.
Please do not contribute to this degradation.
Instead, you can leave the place better than you found it by picking up trash that you find. Hermit Falls remains a pleasant and family-friendly natural getaway, but you should expect to share it with a lot of people on a summer weekend.
It’s possible to find it without the crowds if you come early in the day, on a weekday, or during the off-season.
Chantry Flat and the trailhead are open year-round, from 6am-10pm. Sources: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/angeles/recarea/?recid=41832 https://www.world-of-waterfalls.com/waterfalls/california-hermit-falls/