10 Southern California Hikes With Waterfalls

Written by

Southern California's mild climate fosters year-round outdoor activity: surfing, mountain biking, skiing, and snowboarding are just a few of the many indulgences for athletes and outdoor-lovers alike.

With mountain ranges like the San Gabriels and Santa Anas so close by, Southern California residents have many opportunities to hike as well.

More: 5 San Diego Hiking Trails

Yet according to a recent survey on my hiking blog, Nobody Hikes in L.A., mountain summits are not the most popular type of destination for So Cal hikers. The winner? Waterfalls.

Most of California's most famous waterfalls can be found in the northern part of the state. However, Los Angeles, Orange County and other surrounding counties have quite a few as well. Some of these waterfalls depend on a wet winter, but others, fed by mountain snowmelt or underground springs, flow year round.

Regardless of how much water these spots have, they double as pleasant excursions into nature, an escape from the fast pace of Los Angeles life. Here are 10 you have to see.

More: Hiking Checklist: What to Pack for the Trail

Santa Monica Mountains

Waterfalls: Temescal Canyon, Newton Canyon

Stretching about 50 miles from Ventura to Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Mountains are one of Los Angeles' most valuable recreational resources.

Though its flow is seasonal, the small waterfall in Temescal Canyon is one of Los Angeles' most popular and accessible. The waterfall is part of the short and challenging Temescal Gateway Loop, which features interesting geology and excellent ocean views.

Farther west, Newton Canyon features two waterfalls: a small one close to the road and a larger one that only comes to life with heavy rains—and it's spectacular when it does.

Thousand Oaks

Waterfalls: Paradise Falls, Big Sycamore Canyon Falls

An hour west of Los Angeles, the large city of Thousand Oaks has a variety of recreational opportunities. Paradise Falls in Wildwood Park is a big draw year round.

Paradise Falls, By David Lockeretz

Following recent rains, Big Sycamore Canyon Falls in the northern end of Point Mugu State Park, is a must-see as well.

Big Sycamore Falls, By David Lockeretz

More: Camp at Mugu State Park