I have finally found the perfect family hike and I am so excited to share it with anyone who will listen! Monrovia Canyon Falls is my new favorite hike to do with my toddler (and his friends). It has everything you want in a hike: short and long options, wild animals, plenty of shade and water to frolic in.
I am part of an online hiking group, but have never been able to join on their outings until this week. I am so glad we made it too as this hike has been on my to do list for a long time. But even more than being able to finally meet up with some awesome hiking mommas and do the long awaited Monrovia Falls hike, we saw a BEAR, in the wild, on our trail! Wha?! Don’t let this scare you off though. It was SO amazing and pumped everyone up throughout the entire hike.
There are three different starting points of varying lengths. Here is a map with an overview. The longest hike starts just past the ranger’s station and is 1.7 miles one way. The second option starts near the cabin at the middle parking lot and is 1 mile each way, with the shortest option beginning behind the nature center and is 3/4 of a mile. We had decided in advance to do the middle length hike which is about 2 miles total. This is the perfect length for most toddlers to be able to do. One of the children had never been on a hike before and did the entire thing himself.
Starting the hike from the middle parking lot doesn’t have a lot of elevation gain which makes its pretty manageable for most kids. It is very shaded throughout the hike from this point, so even on a hot LA summer day, it will be bearable. And the scenery is beautiful. Low hanging tree’s creating a wonderful canopy overhead, dramatic ravine’s on the edge of the trail and a bubbling creek all along the way.
My only caveat for this hike is that there are portions where the path narrows to a small lane with a dirt/rock wall on one side and a sloping cliff on the other. If you have a child who does not listen well, this may not be the best first hike.
Keep your eyes peeled and you might even see the bear that we saw several times on our morning hike. Don’t worry though, he didn’t seem to be bothered by us at all. There were several other hikers who we passed along the way who didn’t even see him. If you are feeling nervous, read the signs upon entering and heed the advice to make lots of noise upon seeing a bear. Otherwise, keep an eye out and enjoy seeing an amazing spectacle of nature out in the wild. It was really moving to see a real life bear in the wilds of LA!
Things to note:
- This is not a stroller friendly hike. The path is full of rocks and has steps throughout.
- Parking is $5 cash. There is often no ranger around to provide change, so be prepared with exact change to put in an envelope and in the parking box located at the entrance.
- There is poison oak on the edges of the trail, so stay on the path and tell your little one’s to keep their hands off the leaves as they walk by.
- There are animals at this park – bears, mountain lions, rattle snakes, tons of birds, butterflies and large grey squirrels. Keep your eyes open.
- Weekends are especially busy, so you may have no option but to hike from near the rangers station on the Bill Cull Trail. This will add a bit more elevation, less shade at the beginning and has several sharp steep switchbacks.