How To Hike To Eaton Canyon Falls

How to Hike To Eaton Canyon Falls

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions to Hike Eaton Canyon Falls
  • Where to Park for Eaton Canyon Falls Trail
  • Insider Tips & Recommendations
Total Distance (?)4 miles (6.4 km)
Hike Time2 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Easy
Total Ascent (?)500 feet (152m)
Highest Elevation1,370 feet (418m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dogs AllowedLeashed
Alerts & Closures (?)Eaton Canyon Natural Area
Park Phone626-398-5420
Weather & ForecastLatest Conditions

The hike to Eaton Canyon Falls is one of those LA classics you have to do at least once. Eaton Canyon and the falls are spectacular, one of the true gems of the San Gabriels. Even John Muir wrote about Eaton Canyon Falls’s beauty. But its easily accessible location means that you’ll find crowds here, and many people on the trail are not familiar with hiking etiquette. The best time to hike Eaton Canyon Falls is early on a weekday when the canyon is still peaceful, and the masses haven’t yet arrived.

Where is Eaton Canyon Falls Trail?

There are a few ways to get to Eaton Canyon Falls, but the main route starts from the Eaton Canyon Nature Center in Pasadena. Use this address:
Eaton Canyon Nature Center, 1750 N Altadena Dr, Pasadena, CA 91107

Eaton Cayon Entrance
You’ll go down a long driveway to the Nature Center parking areas.
Eaton Canyon Parking
Park as close as possible to the trailhead. It does get very crowded and you may have to park in the overflow parking.
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Here’s the parking leading up to the trailhead. The hike starts at the far end of the parking lot.
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Check the park website before your trip, the hours do occasionally change.
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There are (fairly nasty) toilets at the trailhead.

Gear For the Hike

Eaton Canyon Falls Directions 2
There are many stream crossings. It’s much easier to wear footwear (like trail runners, sandals, or sneakers) that you are okay with getting wet.

Your best bet on this hike is to wear fitness clothes or light hiking gear. You may have to scramble up and down some small rises, so be prepared to get your hands dirty. If you have trekking poles, they can be helpful on the stream crossings. Or, as I said earlier, get comfortable with getting your feet wet and plow through the stream crossings.

Gear 2022 8

I waste my time with lousy hiking gear so you don’t have to. Only the winners get onto my gear page. There’s no fluff, sponsorships, or promotions. It’s just gear I personally use, have tested, and recommend. Right now I’m liking my inReach Mini 2, Garmin Epix, and Lone Peak 6 shoes.
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My September 2022 Top Gear Picks

Eaton Canyon Falls Trail Maps

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Elevation Profile

Eaton Cayon Elevation
This profile is a little deceiving; it’s a gentle climb up to the falls. The first half is largely exposed, and the last mile is shaded.

3D Map

Eaton Cayon 3d Map
The first half is a mellow trail along the (wide) Eaton Wash banks. Then, towards the end, you enter the steeper walls of Eaton Canyon to what’s known as the “lower falls.” When you enter the canyon, you also officially enter Angeles National Forest. Also, note that the different colors are from different satellite photos on Google Earth. It’s not like that in real life.

Hike Brief

Eaton Cayon Historic
Eaton Canyon Falls looks pretty much the same today as it does in this photo from 1898. This photo was taken by Theo Lukens, and the highest point in Los Angeles (city) is named after him. If you want to hike Mt Lukens, I have a guide here.

Eaton Canyon Falls Hike Directions

Video Directions

Have a question about the guide or want to see what other people are saying/asking? View the Youtube comments for this video. Leave a comment and I will do my best to respond.

Turn by Turn Directions

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The trailhead is at the end of the parking area.
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When you pass the gate there are two paths. You can take either. I like the right path, which goes along Eaton Wash.
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There’s a trail map here. Take a picture with your phone in case you need to refer back to it.
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Follow the trail, with the wash on your right.
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The trail rejoins the other path from the left.
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And then you cross Eaton Wash. The first of many crossings, but the next crossing isn’t for over a mile.

If there’s a decent water flow at this crossing, chances are good that the falls will be flowing. In these times of extreme weather, the falls can dry up occasionally, especially in the summer and early fall.

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Once you cross over, make the left and continue upstream.
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The first part of the hike is a wide dirt path. Not the prettiest trail in the world, but not the worst either.
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At the intersection of the Coyote Canyon Trail, keep going straight.
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And then after that is the intersection of the Walnut Canyon Trail. Keep going straight.
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There’s a sign at this intersection pointing you in the right direction. There used to be more trail markers, but I’ve noticed that they disappear more than they should.
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You’ll continue up along the wash, which is closer now.
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Keep going straight when a trail joins in from the right.
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And after that is a split. Make the left to head down to the wash. To the right is the Mt Wilson Toll road.
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There’s this old school sign at the junction. You can see more of these around Chantry Flat.
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When you get down to the wash, make the hard right.
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And now you’re in the narrow part of Eaton Canyon. The trail goes under the bridge.

The original bridge here was wooden, and built for the Mount Wilson Toll Road Company. That bridge and a few others were washed away during flooding in Eaton Canyon. The bridge you see today was built after the flood in 1969. Today the bridge is known as the “Chuck Ballard Memorial Bridge,” after the man who was a banker by day, and a badass member of the Altadena Mountain Rescue Team in his off time. Chuck Ballard served for more than 50 years with the rescue team and passed away in 2020.

Eaton Canyon Falls Directions 27
The hike from here on out is very different than the earlier stretch. From here you’ll be in the steep canyon, following the creek upstream.
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You’ll also have your first stream crossing, the first of several on your way to Eaton Canyon Falls.
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You’ll also see some structures along the way that were part of the original water mining operations.
Eaton Canyon Falls Directions 1
Some crossings have multiple spots to hop over. There are also a few splits in the trail. Overall you’re following the creek. If for some reason you’re leaving the canyon, you’re not doing the right thing.
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There are some points that leave the waterside but rejoin after a minute or two. At no point are you climbing up and out of the canyon.
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And after about 0.6 miles in the canyon, you’ll arrive at the falls. You made it! When the water is really flowing, you can splash around in the pool below the falls.

From here, just turn around and return the same way that you came up!

Eaton Canyon Falls used to be known as LaBelle Cascade, named after Judge Benjamin Smith Eaton‘s daughter, who the canyon is named after.

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard

Cris Hazzard 4 Mile Trail Yosemite
Hi, I’m Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn’t so you don’t waste money. I don’t do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn’t do it without folks like you!).

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