Everyone woke up early, ready to “go go go” as my little one likes to say. It was a cool foggy morning, so we decided to head out to Eaton Canyon Falls for a hike. It had been on my to-do list for ages and it looked like a perfect morning to check it out. And right we were. Seeing only 3 other cars there, we knew we would have the trails to ourselves.
This is a very popular hike. Go early on weekends as the parking lot and trail fills up quickly.
Our first welcome to Eaton Canyon was a memorial to Ester, a local teenager who had died here the previous week. It made me wonder if this was going to be safe enough for our toddler, but all the reviews I had read said that kids were often on this trail. I guess we would find out!
Being such a popular trail, I was surprised that it wasn’t sign posted very well. There is one main wide trail with several other trails leading off. We haven’t explored all the other trails, but it looks like you could spend quite a bit of time out here cruising around. If you get confused, follow the crowds or ask around.
There is one area in particular where the signage says that the Eaton Canyon trail leads off to the right (at Walnut Canyon), but to go to the waterfall, you actually need to stay on the large path on the left.
For about the first mile of the trail, it is flat and smooth with only a few gradient changes, but nothing too difficult. There is also almost no shade in this section, so be aware it can get hot quickly! Before you reach the bridge, you will see a small sign (see photo above) and path leading down into the trees and rocks below. This is the trail that you need to take to reach the main waterfall.
Keep an eye out for leaves of three. Poison Oak is everywhere on this trail. Stay on the path and tell the kiddos not to touch the plants.
For my son, this is the point on the trail where it becomes fun. Climbing and zigzagging over rocks in the canyon and splashing through the stream as it crosses the trail before finally ending at the waterfall is the best part. Our son had his water shoes on, so he was able to splash and muddle through the shallow water without a care. This enjoyable stretch is over too quickly though as the falls are just .5 mile from the turn off the main trail.
This is also where the path becomes difficult to maneuver with a stroller if you have one. We saw people carrying their strollers folded up all the way to the waterfall. We once left our son’s push car off to the side, returning for it on the way back out. Best bet is to use a carrier if you need to help a little one.
This is a great hike for most fitness levels. It’s pretty easy, even at 3.5 miles. The first mile or so is a bit uneventful and can be boring for kids. Just reassure them it will become more adventurous for the last .5 mile to the waterfall. Enjoy!
Address: 1750 N Altadena Dr, Altadena, CA 91001
Parking: Free. Arriving anytime after 9 a.m. on a weekend will probably mean that you have to park in the overflow parking area.
Hours: The gate is opened at 7:30 a.m. and closes at sunset.
What to Bring: Food, water, hat and sunscreen. Wear water shoes/clothes to splash in the stream and cool off in the pool at the waterfall.
Share your thoughts.
What’s your opinion on people playing music (out loud) while hiking? This is a common occurrence at Eaton Canyon Falls on the weekends. The unanimous agreement in our family is that it shouldn’t be allowed! As my son says “we want to hear the nature.”