San Gabriel Mountains Waterfalls: Sturtevant Falls, Fish Canyon Falls
Take the easy- to moderate-level trail just above the foothills of Pasadena to reach the 50-foot Sturtevant Falls. The hike is a perfect introduction to the pleasures of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Farther east, Fish Canyon Falls, towering overhead at nearly 100 feet, is known for its impressive display and the difficult trail you have to hike to reach it. The trail, which was built to bypass the quarry that blocked access to the waterfall, is an integral chapter in the story of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Visit these falls on the weekend, when shuttles make this a less strenuous trip.
Inland EmpireWaterfalls: Big Falls, Etiwanda Falls
The hot and dry Inland Empire, colloquially known as "the 909" after its telephone area code, is often the butt of many Los Angeles and Orange County jokes. The mountains here—the tallest in Southern California—are no laughing matter.. A short drive from San Bernardino and a couple of hours from Los Angeles, Big Falls is the tallest year-round waterfall in Southern California. While the viewing platform doesn't do the waterfall justice, it still provides an impressive glimpse of the giant.
Closer to the city is Etiwanda Falls, which offers a pleasant oasis just a short distance from the suburbs.
Orange CountyWaterfalls: Holy Jim Falls, Black Star Canyon Falls
The "O.C." is one of Southern California's most densely populated counties, yet there are plenty of places to escape into nature. Diminutive Holy Jim Falls—named after a beekeeper who lived in the area in the early 20th century—is a popular spot to get away from it all.
Holy Jim Falls, By David Lockeretz
Experienced hikers can visit Black Star Canyon Falls, where water, geology and history come together to create a peaceful nature scene. Water cascades almost 80 feet down through a man-made mine shaft when in full flow. Reports of paranormal activity in the area may or may not be accurate, so don't let them stop you from experiencing this epic natural wonder.
Farther from Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Barbara boast many more waterfalls and a few can even be found in the desert climate of Palm Springs. Los Angeles may have a reputation for being skin deep, but if you go chasing waterfalls, you'll find that there's more to this town than meets the eye.
Find more California Hikes: Must-Trek Trails in the Sunshine State
Find a Campground at ReserveAmerica.com.