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Escondido Falls Hike

Escondido Falls Hike

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions to Escondido Falls
  • Where to Park for the Escondido Falls Hike
  • Insider Tips & Recommendations
Total Distance (?)3.7 miles (6 km)
Hike Time1.5-2.5 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Easy
Total Ascent (?)600 feet (183m)
Highest Elevation350 feet (107m)
Fees & PermitsFee for Parking Lot
Dogs AllowedLeashed
Alerts & Closures (?)Escondido Canyon Park
Park Phone323-221-9944
Weather & ForecastLatest Conditions
Stay SafeCopy this webpage link to the clipobard and share with a friend before you hike. Let them know when to expect you back.
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The Escondido Falls hike is an easy way to see one of the most unique and spectacular waterfalls in Southern California. Unlike most falls, Escondido Falls is covered in moss, giving the waterfall a “bearded” look. Overall the trail is easy to follow and is a great beginner and family-friendly hike.

The upper falls, the highest in the Santa Monica Mountains, are now closed and on private property. This guide will get you to the safe and accessible lower falls.

Where is Escondido Falls?

This hike is a little different than most. You’ll park at the official start and then walk along a paved road (on the dirt sidewalk) until you reach the “trail trail” at about 0.8 miles in. Use this trailhead address:
27751 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265

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The official parking lot is just off of the PCH.
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This is a popular hike, and the lot can often be full.
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There’s a self-pay kiosk for the parking lot.
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If the parking lot is full, there is parking along the PCH. Be VERY VERY careful when crossing. The traffic here can be heavy.
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If you do park on the PCH, make sure you are not in a “no parking” zone.

Gear For the Hike

Escondido Falls Hike Directions 1
There are some stream crossings on the hike. Usually you can just hop across, but it makes sense to wear shoes that you are okay with getting wet.

There’s nothing too tricky about this hike and you can do it in fitness clothes or light hiking gear. It can be hot here, so bring at least 1L of water with you.

Griptightone Gpod Tree

Joby GripTight Smartphone Flexible Tripod
Take your selfie stick game to the next level. Part of the fun of a hike is taking pictures, and a flexible JOBY smartphone tripod takes it to the next level. You can use it as a selfie stick, as a regular tripod, but more importantly, as a flexible tripod that can attach to tree branches and other objects. It’s not expensive, and it’s something you can use when not hiking too.

Latest Price – Amazon

Astro Headlamp

Black Diamond Cosmo 300 Headlamp
If something goes wrong and you get lost, sprain your ankle, or get delayed, you might be caught out after dark. And one of the top items that search and rescue departments recommend you carry is a light. Smartphones can work as flashlights, but that drains the battery quickly. It’s better to invest in a reasonably priced and high-quality headlamp like this Black Diamond. It takes AAA batteries, can last 200 hours, and has an emergency strobe. Carry it with you off the trail to use in emergencies as well.

Latest Price – REI | Amazon

Rei Member Card 2

REI Membership Saves You Money Forever
Have you shopped at REI before? They have all kinds of active clothes and gear, from fitness, to hiking, to snow sports, to casual wear. It’s an overall great place to shop (here’s why) and they offer a $30 membership that gets you 10% back on everything for life, along with frequent coupons, free shipping, discounts, and member-only sales. It’s a no-brainer.

REI Membership – REI

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated May 2022.

My May 2022 Top Gear Picks

No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.

Escondido Falls Trail Maps

Click Here To View

Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.

Gaiagps

How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
Here’s what I use. If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 7 or Epix. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.

To access this guide when out of cell phone range on the trail, simply save the webpage on your phone ( iPhoneAndroid ).

Elevation Profile

Escondido Falls Hike Elevation
Here’s the one-way elevation profile. On the road portion of the hike we’ll crest a hill, then descend, and then do a very gentle uphill (which seems flat) to the falls.

3D Map

Escondido Falls Hike 3d Map
We’re going to follow Winding Way, a road, up through the neighborhood, and then get on the trail as it enters Escondido Canyon Park. We’ll follow the trail up Escondido Canyon until we reach the falls.

Hike Brief

Escondido Falls Hike Directions 2
When you hike through Escondido Canyon you’ll see the damage from the 2018 Woolsey Fire. The fire was massive and really did a number on Malibu, including forcing an evacuation of hundreds of thousands of residents.

Escondido Falls Hike Directions

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Video Directions

Turn by Turn Directions

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From the top of the parking area, head up Winding Way.road.
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There’s a dirt trail alongside of the road.
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In a short while you’ll cross over Winding Way.
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The trail markers on the other side of the street.
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Keep hiking up the road, avoiding any driveways or roads going off of Winding Way (they’re private property).
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As you pass the fancy homes, you’ll start to get nice views of the Pacific Ocean.
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At the top of the hill, keep hiking down the road.
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You’ll see a sign for the park at the top of the hill, but the trail starts further down the hill.
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After a few minutes of heading downhill you’ll see the trailhead for the Edward Albert Trail to Escondido Falls.

Edward Albert was an actor, Oxford attendee, godson of Laurence Oliver, and local champion of the outdoors, the environment, and Native American rights. The trail is named in his honor.

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Now you’re on the trail proper. There’s a little downhill before you start up the hidden canyon to the falls.
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As you go downhill, look off to the left. The lush canyon (Escondido Canyon) is where you’ll be hiking.
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At the bottom of the climb, make the hard left.
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You’ll see a trail sign after you make the hard turn. We’ll be heading upstream along Escondido Canyon Creek.
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The trail is easy to follow as it goes up the canyon.
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You’ll do about 4 easy creek crossings as you hike.
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There’s a small side trail off to the left by this big oak. Keep hiking straight upstream.
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When the trail comes to a t-junction, make the left.
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Look up in front of you to the right. If there’s water flowing, you can see the upper falls here.
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And soon you’ll come to the shaded area at Escondido Falls.
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Walk up to the moss and limestone covered falls. If there’s water flowing, you can wade in the pool beneath them. The falls are 50 feet tall.

From here, just turn around and head back the way you came!

The upper falls are located on private property and are not open to the public. Hikers are asked not to climb to the upper falls to preserve the fragile habitat and to avoid the risk of serious fall injuries.Escondido Canyon Park

This guide last updated on March 11, 2022. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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