Summary: This hike takes you to one of the gems in the Santa Monica Mountains. The hike starts out on the pavement along Winding Way. After about a mile, an obvious trail takes you down into the lovely Escondido Canyon, criss-crossing creek 4 or 5 times. As you approach the base of the lower falls, you can see the water dropping over the lip of the 150 ft upper falls in the distance. The lower falls are about 50 foot high and trickle over a moss covered wall into a lovely shallow pool. This is the turn around point for those not comfortable with a bit of rock scrambling.
To get to the upper falls, take the trail to the right of the lower falls up an obvious gully. At the top of the gully, go left and follow the stream over some small cascades and boulders to the base of the upper falls. This is an amazing site, with water tumbling over 3 or 4 tiers, finally falling into a deep pool.
Attempts to climb beyond the base of the upper falls could result in serious injury!
Trailhead: From Kanan Road, drive south a mile or so on Pacific Coast Highway (1) to East Winding Way and turn left. The signed parking lot is on the left side of Winding Way. The trail actually follows the paved Winding Way for about a mile, after which you will see an obvious trail to the left. Follow the trail until it hits the stream, then just follow the trail upstream until you come to the lower falls. (Lat:34.0258 Lon:-118.78376)
Trail Guides for Escondido Falls:
by Tom Stienstra & Ann Marie Brown (Foghorn Press)
Day Hikes Around Los Angeles
by Robert Stone (Day Hike Books, Inc.)
Afoot & Afield In Los Angeles
by Jerry Schad (Wilderness Press)
Best Seasons: Spring,
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs,
Ranger Contact: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy - (310) 589-3200
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Jim Zuber, who has posted 104 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 20 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Samantha on 7/19/2012
Very nice, just got back, and for July, there was still a nice "Trickle" of a Waterfall to enjoy :-) The Hike in, is a nice shaded walk in the park really, but later you'll be traversing some boulders, following a rope over more boulders to the Upper falls. I climbed up and sat inside the small cave there, it was very peaceful & calming. Although, you will get "Soaked to the skin" climbing up there... be prepared to get very Wet!!! Very nice Hike, will do this again, when the Waterfall is a full force, and take the other ropes on the Right to go up even higher!!
Reviewed by JW on 6/14/2012
Horrible trail. NO WATERFALL! JUST MOSS AND MOSQUITOS! NO PARKING. Poison oak EVERYWHERE. Slippery rocks. Dangerous cliffs. RATTLE SNAKES. Several people have been bitten by rattle snakes this summer and one almost died. Muddy and not enjoyable. Overall this was a HORRIBLE trail. NOT SAFE FOR CHILDREN OR ADULTS.
Reviewed by Leah on 3/29/2012
Please note that children under the age of 10 should not hike above the lower falls!!! My son got 4 stitches today after getting hit in the head by falling rock on the trail right after the rope bridge. Serious hazard for little ones, but not so much for grown-ups.
Reviewed by Taylor on 10/29/2011
Natasha, looks like you followed the herd and went on a busy day for all hiking trails. the ocean veiws can be seen along the road before getting to the dirt trail and also after the first waterfall. also the water flow for all waterfalls at this time of year is minimal due to it being the dry season. i really suggest a return trip on a weekday in early spring to really grasp the beauty of this area
Reviewed by Carol on 10/20/2011
We packed out most of the trash from the rope stretch back to the street. I wasn't brave enough to collect trash above the rope. It's a very dangerous trail past the rope, which I should definitely not have hiked alone. I was stupid for doing it, but my companions were smart enough to quit at the ropes. Bring a walking stick to jam into the loose gravel or to dig a rock into a handhold at a few otherwise difficult spots.
Reviewed by Natasha on 9/11/2011
Overrated, over-crowded, whimpy, no ocean views. So many beautiful hikes in Malibu, this isn't one of them.
Reviewed by ndn on 7/17/2011
cool hike. a ways up on the 1 if you're coming from santa monica, the other reviews describe how to find it. walking the paved path isn't miserable, rather, it's quite pretty and there's awesome ocean views. the path is easy to find, but hang left to get to the falls!! it's really awesome. don't stop at the bottom, keep going!! the falls aren't just some babbling river, but they're not roaring or anything either. just go to take it all in and have a little adventure. i came home tired and dirty :)
Reviewed by Hatter on 7/6/2011
Me and my girlfriend hiked this trail last Saturday, finding parking in the parking lot right off PCH was easy. We hiked up the paved road to the Trail head "i wont count the road as a trail". the min we walked it there where groups of people all over the trail (it was 4th of July weekend ), but after a while the crowds got smaller. once we got to the falls it was pretty much a younger crowd, nice laid back every one was talking with each other & just enjoying the sights..we made it to the top of the falls with the help of the handy ropes people have left behind...all in all, great trail, great sights, CLEAN TRAIL TOO. going back again
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