Los Angeles Hikes

Escondido Falls is back after years of California Drought

After years of crippling drought, Escondido Falls, a 200-foot Malibu waterfall is flowing again due to the influx of rainy weather. Throughout the drought years of it was almost impossible to find a full flowing waterfall near Los Angeles. Escondido Falls was one of those hikes where you see photos of as a beautiful cascade of water but when visited you were met with barely a small trickle over the cliff-side. As of Jan 22nd that’s not the case anymore, check out these falls in the early spring months. Below is a guide to hike to both the upper and lower falls.

And here’s a GPX map for download:

Hike Stats:

Distance: 3.5 miles

Time: about 2 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation Gain: 350 ft.

Dogs Allowed: Yes (on leash)

Shade?: Yes, Partly

Trail Photos & Write-up:

Where to park:

Parking for this hike is at this address: 27751 Pacific Coast Hwy

This will bring you to a small parking lot of Winding Way Rd., which may be full, if so you can park anywhere off the Pacific Coast Hwy close by. Here’s a photo of what the parking lot looks like:

From the small parking lot or the bottom of the PCH we began to walk up WInding Way Rd. This hike doesn’t start heading into the mountains like typical trails, there’s about a mile of walking up a road like this:

Many signs will make sure you don’t lose your way, as they instruct to stick to the dirt stretch right next to Winding Way Rd. “Please stay on trail”.

The most enjoyable moments of walking on this road were looking at the million dollar houses and the Pacific Ocean. As the end of the road is in sight and the real trail sighted, the hike really begins.

Descend onto this trail and the first of 5 stream crossing appears after about 2 minutes.

Muddy Trails and about a few feet of water to cross.

The day we went on this trail was about 2 days after the last rain. Thinking that was enough time for the dirt to dry was a wrong estimate. Coming back to the car we were having to shake the dirt off our shoes. Time your visit just right, days after a rain to enjoy the fullness of the falls.

Right after the first stream crossing, a sign will direct the traveler in the right direction.

The last sign posted for this trail, from here stick to the main trail to get to the falls.

As the trail bobs in and out of the shade, human activity begins to cease and the lushness of the trail takes over.

Another of five stream crossings appear. Follow the main trail all the way to the falls. It should be noted that there is no fork in the road or side path to take.

Another crossing two days after peak rains:

Enjoy the forested scenery, until the crashing of the falls can be heard. Through the trees you’ll be able to glimpse the top of Escondido Falls.

Lower Falls sighted.

The falls are split into two main falls, the one you see above and below named “The Lower Falls” and a more scenic section called “Upper Escondido Falls”. It’s the upper falls that show up in most photos or trail guides.

In order to get to the Upper Falls, one has to scramble up the right side of the lower falls. Follow the crude path that locals have made over the years.

This is can be seen as very dangerous as there is sheer cliff to the left side. Use your own caution and discretion.

The pathway up the falls begins with a fashioned rope to cling onto, then turns into a bushwacking and climbing adventure.

Finding the path up to the upper falls, (left)

After 10 minutes of climbing and getting through the brush, one is rewarded with the view of the Upper Falls.

The full falls:

Enjoy the falls while they are full flowing and take the same path to get back to your vehicle.

3 comments

    • Lisa G on 02/19/2017 at 22:32

    Reply

    Climbing to the upper falls is not advised. One of our hikers slipped and fell straight off that cliff. Not advised at all.

      • dventura on 04/01/2017 at 02:20
      • Author

      Reply

      Now your hiker really shouldn’t have tried it if it was out of his comfort zone. Also good job on preparing him.

      • dventura on 04/01/2017 at 02:23
      • Author

      Reply

      “Use your own caution and discretion”

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