Fish Canyon Falls is a beautiful 80-foot three-tiered waterfall tucked away in Fish Canyon of Azusa, Ca. The path to the falls travels through underbrush, thickets of trees and finally follows the bends of the canyon to the falls. Fish Canyon is also rich with history, once being a settlement for over 200 cabins. But because of a wildfire in 1947 and subsequent flooding in 1948, few structures remain from the destruction.
Distance: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 840ft
Duration: 2.5-3 hours
Dogs allowed?: Yes (on Weekends)
(Parking and Gps Route at bottom of blog)
Like many of the spots I explore now, I found out about this beast of hike through Instagram. A follower tagged me in a distant photo of what looked like a fantastic cascade of rushing water. For months it’s been on my list, was worth the drive to cross it off.
Before June 18, 2014 hiking to this location was both difficult and impractical. The mouth of the canyon is cut off my a quarry owned by Vulcan Materials, it was impossible to hike through Fish Canyon without trespassing. To allow patrons to visit the falls the company created a trail along the Van Tussel ridge, which turned out to be a 10 mile journey through 2400 feet of elevation gain, or to be escorted through the canyon by the company 1 day out of the month. The mouth of Fish canyon continued to be blocked by a Vulcan Materials Quarry until after years of litigation and waiting. Then on June 18, 2014 a easy-access day hiking trail was then created to accommodate hikers 365 days of the year.
The hours to park are 7am to 7pm from April-to-September and 7am to 5pm from October-to-March. The gates are locked once closing hour hit, cars will be towed at owners expense.
The hike begins through an active quarry, where huge tractors, bulldozers and cranes sit along the gates of the trail. The first half mile of the hike is through this area, which is an unpleasant walk with signs of human activity everywhere. Not much to see in these parts.
After the initial .5 miles through the quarry, we crossed a metal bridge, which signified the start of a different experience. Immediately a fresh breeze swatted through the air as the sounds of machinery disappeared.
The enjoyable sound of the trickling stream floated by the walkway through the canyon. We had decided to hike on a somewhat rainy day of LA. The rain would definitely create a burst of water over the waterfall, we had thought. And surprisingly, some hikers felt the same, as there was the exchange of hellos about a dozen times.
The first few switchbacks are found right after the bridge and are coupled with about a hundred feet of elevation gain. A few hundred more feet of walking and suddenly the creek is way below from where it initially started.
Along the hike, posts have been put up that attract the casual reader and inform those who wish to learn about the history or flora of the area. It’s a nice addition to a hike and definitely provided some insight though the experience.
You’ll be able to read about the history of this canyon and experience some of the few ruins of a 200 house settlement.
The trail is well maintained and is easy to follow. It’s mainly a single-track trail that follows the canyon to the falls. And at times is quite enjoyable due to the total immersion of trees around the path. For minutes at a time, It feels like being transported out of LA and into some tropical enclosure. And the bends along the canyon create a constantly adapting experience.
Did not regret hiking in the rain on the way there, it created a musky atmospheric experience while looking down the edge of the canyon. On the way back though, we were pelted by heavy rain and cool winds.
The trail meets the creek at least a few times during the hike, but easy rock-hopping over big steps cross it. At the 2 mile mark, crumbling rocks will be at your steps and the last bend of the canyon takes place.
From this point you can see the waterfall in action, we had guessed right, the rain made this beast gushing.
Enjoy the sights for as long as you want, there is plenty of room to hangout at the bottom of the falls. Have a lunch or snack, take a break and head back down the canyon from where you came. The hike back is just as enjoyable, with the occasional view of Pasadena, but not on this visit, visibility was low.
Parking Address and GPS Track:
Parking is abundant, with about 70 parking spots. Here’s a photo of the lot:
Parking Google Maps coordinates for this lot are: 34.156587,-117.924049