Terra Firma Adventures

Trail Canyon Falls, Angeles National Forest

Kristopher Artz December,2012 No Comments

If you’re looking for a nice little work out in the Los Angeles area with a great payoff at the end, here’s a hike for you. The Trail Canyon Trail hike is about a 4 mile out and back trip. It is a fairly modest uphill hike  most of the way out with some short but steeper sections. The reward is a beautiful waterfall that is a little over 30 feet high.

I did this hike with my daughters but I don’t think I would advise it for many young kids. My 8 year old daughter Emma is a good hiker and does not complain but aside from the whining most parents would have to endure, there are some narrow trail sections a little ways before the waterfall that traverse the side of the canyon and have a pretty steep and good sized drop. That being said, I was not worried about my safety while carrying my 3 year old nor Emma’s safety. I just kept reminding her to be sure of her footing and to hug the uphill side. She did not say a word about it, so maybe I was just making a little more out of it than need be.

If you put the address below into Google maps you will get good directions to the turn off to the parking. If you do not have a National Forest Adventure Pass, you can pick up a $5 day pass at the 7-11 store located on the corner of Foothill Blvd and Oro Vista in Sunland. This will save you the additional fees your required to pay if you receive a ticket for not displaying one in your windshield.

The turn off of Big Tujunga Canyon Road to the Forest road and the trail head parking lot does not have a very good sign and is easy to miss so I have included a photo from Google street view of what to look for…

The parking lot is not far up the Forest road, so just keep going until you reach the turnaround. You are not able to continue on the road farther because of the locked gate.

I did this hike with my daughters but I don’t think I would advise it for many young or inexperienced kids. My 8 year old daughter Emma is a good hiker and does not complain, but aside from the whining most other parents would have to endure, there are some narrow trail sections a little ways before the waterfall that traverse the side of the canyon and have a pretty steep and good sized drop. That being said, I was not worried about my safety while carrying my 3 year old nor Emma’s safety. I just kept reminding her to be sure of her footing and to hug the uphill side. She did not say a word about it, so maybe I was just making a little more out of it than need be. The beginning 3/4 of a mile of the trail is a dirt road that allows vehicle access to the cabins. This was the perfect section both distance and terrain wise for my youngest to hike and enjoy being outdoors.

The trail is not marked well, but fortunately there were enough people around that we could ask for directions. It wasn’t like we were hiking with other people, we would periodically come across people returning from the falls and we could get general directions like how much further and stay to the left when the trail forks a little ahead etc. Everyone was very nice and very helpful.

The scenery and terrain had a lot of variety, which made the distance seem to go bye quickly. You are required to cross over the narrow creek numerous times. At different times we stepped across on rocks, balanced on logs, and crossed over on a log bridge in order to reach the other side of the creek.

The trail was mostly dry and in the sun so the moist cool air at the stream crossings was refreshing.

After all of the stream crossings, the trail begins to ascend quickly up the canyon wall…This is where there are a few hairy sections where the trail has sort of washed out and it becomes narrow in spots with steep drop offs on the side.

After your ascent, and after you round the ridge, you will see the falls in the distance.

Keep on the trail and soon you will choose whether you want to take the steep scramble down to the bottom of the falls or a moderately steep but short down to the top of the falls. Because I was carrying Lily, we decided for the safer route… the top of the falls.

A well deserved break for Emma.

This was a fun and very rewarding hike. The variety of terrain and the cooler December temperatures made it enjoyable. with all of the sun exposure I certainly don’t think this would be a hike I would undertake in the heat of the summer, even with a waterfall to cool me off.

But as enjoyable as the scenery was, I have to admit that for me the best part of it for me, was spending the time with my two girls. Do yourself a favor and take a good friend or a loved one on this hike and really enjoy your time together. I know I did.

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