Eaton Canyon Trail and Waterfall

As of mid-January, California has received nearly a full season’s worth of rain and snow! More than 300 percent of the state’s normal January precipitation means that the locals are treated to guaranteed snow play in the mountains’ higher elevations. Lush wild greenery and ample waterfalls are also Mother Nature’s gifts to us mere mortals who wish to enjoy an afternoon hike in the local mountains’ lower elevations.

Wait, what?

Yes! Waterfalls do exist in Southern California. However, only a few streams have produced the deluge of waterfalls from my childhood due to the recent drought and water shortages. Two weeks ago, rainfall was aplenty in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is now experiencing its expected balmy sunny weather; this phenomenon is to be short lived as weather forecasts for early February calls for strong rainfall – yeah!

Not to disappoint the family, I planned a day trip to the Altadena/Pasadena area so that we can experience hiking the Eaton Canyon Trail and to also find that elusive Southern California waterfall.

We arrived at the Eaton Canyon Natural Area Park on Saturday afternoon to visit the site’s informative Nature Center.


After conversing with the Nature Center’s Docent, we began our family hike by heading north on the Eaton Trail. We soon noticed many people taking issue with what we eventually learned to be a running stream of water.


We decided to cross. My son and husband did so effortlessly. My daughter and I, however, were more timid to the moving waters. Eventually, we crossed the stream.


We were thereafter treated to Eaton Canyon’s beautiful landscape.


Eventually, we noticed the running stream from earlier in the hike to our left, as well as the two men who were inspired to create something artistic. Can you see the photographer and the musician paying homage to the water muse below?


We soon reached the 3 way junction, and proceeded to enter down into the canyon.


From here, the hiking trail follows the stream within the shady canyon. The trail crosses the stream about five times. My family crossed through the stream a handful of times without getting our feet wet. How? By rock hopping, log balancing and piggyback rides, of course.


“Is this the waterfall?”


“No, you’re two-thirds of the way there,” we were told by a passerby.

Whew, because this would have been a disappointment.

In addition to the stream crossings, a few more minor obstacles involving a mini-climb here or there, along with unanticipated tripping accidents on the dry riverbeds, came our way. This happened with one of our children, whose foot got caught between two boulders while skipping atop the many boulders. So while we eventually were about 500 feet into the canyon trail leading into the bend where the Eaton Canyon Falls lived, we parted ways while my husband and children stayed behind to tend to my son’s injury.


“Don’t worry, he’ll be fine. He just needs to rest. Take lots of pictures for us,” my husband called out to me as I proceeded to head north towards the falls.

As soon as I could see them no longer, something came over me… this inexplicable feeling of Shinrin-yoku, a Japanese term describing the relaxation gained from bathing in the forest, figuratively or literally. I quickly rushed across the stream without a care in the world whether the water would get me. It felt exhilarating.


My haste paid off. Here is that beautiful Eaton Canyon Waterfall (and maybe half of Los Angeleans standing alongside me, lol).


We were treated to a group of rock climbers being hoisted down from the 44 foot tall canyon above.

The overall length of this beginner-level hiking trail is about 1.5 miles one-way (so a full 3 mile hike). With the exception of the slight derailment of my son getting injured (he’s ok, by the way, just got shaken up by that surprising fall), we leisurely enjoyed the stream crossings and walking hike back to the Nature Center.


We were also treated to this beautiful sunset view before sundown, a sight not normally seen by these beach bums.




Eaton Canyon Falls and Waterfall
1750 North Altadena Drive
Altadena, CA 91001

© Copyright 2012-2017 by Deborah Kuzma, and All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah Kuzma, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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