Best Waterfalls In Southern California

When it comes to exploring the natural wonders of Southern California, one cannot overlook the breathtaking beauty of its waterfalls. From the cascading waters of Eaton Canyon Falls to the towering heights of Big Falls, this region is a haven for nature lovers and hikers alike.

In this article, I will take you on a journey to discover the best waterfalls Southern California has to offer.

Prepare to be amazed as we delve into the stunning Three Sisters Falls, a true gem of San Diego. Get ready for an adventure to Cedar Creek Falls and Devil’s Punchbowl, where you’ll be greeted by nature’s majestic power. Join me as we explore the beloved Sturtevant Falls in Arcadia and marvel at the giant beauty of Bonita Falls in Lytle Creek.

We’ll also uncover the regal stature of Big Falls, the tallest waterfall in all of Southern California. And don’t forget to bring the whole family along for a fun-filled hike to San Antonio Falls. Finally, we’ll venture into the Yosemite of The San Gabriels, Eaton Canyon Falls.

Get ready to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of Southern California’s best waterfalls. Let’s dive in and explore this natural wonderland together.

Key Takeaways

  • Eaton Canyon Falls is a popular waterfall in Angeles National Forest, with a distance of 4.4 miles and a difficulty level of easy.
  • San Antonio Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the San Gabriels, with a distance of 1.4 miles and a difficulty level of very easy.
  • Big Falls is the tallest waterfall in Southern California, with a distance of 0.7 miles and a difficulty level of very easy.
  • Bonita Falls is one of the most stunning falls in SoCal, with more water year round, a distance of 1.4 miles, and a difficulty level of easy.

Three Sisters Falls: San Diego’s #1 Waterfall

If you’re looking for an adventurous hike with stunning waterfalls, head to Three Sisters Falls, San Diego’s #1 waterfall. This trail will take you on an incredible journey through a river-like landscape, where you’ll encounter three tiers of cascading water. The middle tier is especially breathtaking, with its picturesque beauty and soothing sound.

But that’s not all – if you’re feeling adventurous, there are swimming holes along the way that are perfect for cliff jumping. Thrill-seekers will love the adrenaline rush of plunging into the refreshing water from the cliffs above.

As you make your way through this scenic forest nursery, you’ll be surrounded by towering trees and lush greenery. It’s a truly enchanting experience as if you’ve stepped into a fairytale.

And when you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views that stretch as far as the eye can see. The panoramic vista is simply breathtaking, and it’s the perfect spot to take a moment to soak in the beauty of nature.

So if you’re up for an adventure and want to witness one of the most stunning waterfalls in Southern California, make sure to add Three Sisters Falls to your bucket list. You won’t be disappointed!

Cedar Creek Falls & Devil’s Punchbowl

Located in the scenic wilderness of the region, Cedar Creek Falls and Devil’s Punchbowl offer breathtaking waterfalls that cascade down with a powerful roar, creating a mesmerizing sight for hikers and nature enthusiasts. Cedar Creek Falls, known for its scenic beauty, is a popular destination for those seeking an adventure in Southern California.

However, it is important to note that this hike is challenging and requires physical stamina. The trail to Cedar Creek Falls is 5.6 miles long and has a moderate to hard difficulty level, with an elevation gain of 1049 feet. Hikers can expect to spend approximately 3 hours completing the trail.

Along the way, the roaring waterfall serves as a constant companion, its sound becoming more intense as you get closer. One unique feature of Cedar Creek Falls is the opportunity for cliff jumping at the top two tiers of the waterfall, which have swimming holes perfect for cooling off on a hot day. It is important to exercise caution and follow safety guidelines when participating in this activity.

Additionally, it is worth noting that a $6 parking permit is required to access the trailhead. Despite the challenging hike, the scenic beauty and the thrill of cliff jumping make Cedar Creek Falls a must-visit destination for waterfall enthusiasts in Southern California.

Sturtevant Falls: Arcadia’s Beloved Gem

Nestled within the scenic beauty of the Angeles National Forest, Sturtevant Falls stands as a cherished treasure in Arcadia, captivating hikers with its enchanting cascade of water and serene surroundings. The hike to Sturtevant Falls is a popular choice for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a moderate difficulty level and a distance of 3.3 miles. Along the way, hikers can immerse themselves in the lush greenery and towering trees that line the trail, providing a tranquil and picturesque experience.

The best times to visit Sturtevant Falls are during the spring and early summer months when the waterfall is at its fullest, thanks to the melting snow from the nearby mountains. During this time, hikers can witness the waterfall’s impressive flow and enjoy the refreshing mist that fills the air. It is important to note that Sturtevant Falls is currently closed due to the Bobcat Fire, so it is crucial to check for updates before planning a visit.

As for wildlife and flora, Sturtevant Falls is home to a variety of species, including deer, squirrels, and a plethora of bird species. The area is dotted with vibrant wildflowers during the spring, adding a splash of color to the already beautiful landscape.

For photography enthusiasts, capturing the beauty of Sturtevant Falls can be a rewarding challenge. To get the best shots, it is recommended to visit during the golden hour, either early in the morning or in the late afternoon, when the lighting is soft and warm. Additionally, using a tripod and experimenting with different angles can help capture the mesmerizing flow of the waterfall.

Nearby attractions and activities near Sturtevant Falls include exploring the historic Sturtevant Camp, which offers overnight accommodations in rustic cabins, and continuing the hike to Hermit Falls for a more adventurous experience. Overall, Sturtevant Falls is a hidden gem in Arcadia, offering a peaceful escape into nature’s embrace.

Bonita Falls: Giant Waterfall at Lytle Creek

Immerse yourself in the majestic beauty of Bonita Falls, a giant waterfall tucked away in the enchanting Lytle Creek area. As you embark on an adventure to Bonita Falls in Lytle Creek, you will discover a hidden oasis and witness nature’s spectacular display of power and beauty. Bonita Falls is Southern California’s largest waterfall, a true wonder of Lytle Creek.

Upon arriving at Bonita Falls, you will be greeted by a majestic cascade that will leave you in awe. The sight of the water plunging down from a great height is truly a sight to behold. The sheer size and power of the waterfall make it a nature’s spectacle that cannot be missed.

The beauty of Bonita Falls is further enhanced by the surrounding landscape. As you explore the area, you will be surrounded by lush greenery, towering trees, and the soothing sound of rushing water. It truly feels like a hidden oasis, a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Whether you are a nature enthusiast, a photography lover, or simply seeking a peaceful getaway, Bonita Falls has something for everyone. Unveil the secrets of Southern California’s largest waterfall and immerse yourself in the wonders of nature at Bonita Falls in Lytle Creek.

Big Falls: King of SoCal Waterfalls


Prepare to be amazed by the grandeur of Big Falls, the towering monarch of SoCal’s cascades. Nestled in a picturesque setting, Big Falls offers a breathtaking spectacle that is sure to leave you in awe. This majestic waterfall is located just a short distance away, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Hiking to Big Falls is a breeze, with its short and easy trail spanning just 0.7 miles. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, this trail is accessible to all skill levels. The cascading waters and lush greenery along the way create a serene and tranquil atmosphere that adds to the overall experience.

The best time to visit Big Falls is during the spring season, when the snowmelt and rainfall contribute to a more robust flow of water. This is when the waterfall showcases its full splendor, making it the perfect time for photography enthusiasts to capture stunning shots. The crystal-clear waters cascading down the rocks create a mesmerizing sight that is truly unforgettable.

Surrounded by the beauty of nature, Big Falls also offers neighboring attractions worth exploring. Just a short drive away, you’ll find Lytle Creek, a serene retreat where you can relax and unwind. Additionally, there are several picnic spots nearby, allowing you to enjoy a delightful outdoor meal amidst the scenic backdrop.

Big Falls is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a memorable waterfall experience. With its easy accessibility, stunning beauty, and nearby attractions, it promises an adventure that will leave you with lasting memories. So lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and get ready to be captivated by the magnificence of Big Falls.

San Antonio Falls: Fun Family Hike

Located just a short distance away, San Antonio Falls offers a fun family hike with its easy accessibility and scenic beauty. This waterfall is perfect for all skill levels, as it has a very easy difficulty level. With a trail length of only 1.4 miles, it can be completed in just 45 minutes, making it a great option for those with young children or limited time.

What sets San Antonio Falls apart is its stunning scenic views. As you make your way along the trail, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful landscapes and lush greenery. The waterfall itself is a sight to behold, with cascading water flowing down from the San Gabriel Mountains. It’s a picture-perfect spot for a family photo or a peaceful moment of reflection.

Another highlight of San Antonio Falls is the swimming opportunities it offers. The pool at the base of the waterfall is the perfect place to take a refreshing dip on a hot day. Just be sure to bring your swimsuit and towels!

And of course, San Antonio Falls is pet-friendly, allowing you to bring your furry friends along for the adventure. Just remember to keep them on a leash and clean up after them.

Overall, San Antonio Falls is a must-visit destination for families looking for a fun and easy hike with beautiful scenery and the chance to cool off in a natural swimming hole.

Eaton Canyon Falls: The Yosemite of The San Gabriels

Get ready to explore Eaton Canyon Falls, often referred to as the Yosemite of the San Gabriels, and discover its breathtaking beauty. This popular waterfall in Angeles National Forest is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. With a distance of 4.4 miles and an easy difficulty level, Eaton Canyon Falls offers a rewarding hiking experience suitable for all skill levels. As you venture along the trail, you’ll be surrounded by stunning scenery, including lush greenery, towering cliffs, and the soothing sounds of the cascading waterfall.

If you’re a photography enthusiast, Eaton Canyon Falls provides plenty of picture-perfect moments. The trail offers various photography spots where you can capture the beauty of the waterfall from different angles. Don’t forget to bring your camera and tripod to capture the mesmerizing flow of water and the surrounding natural landscapes.

To make the most of your hike to Eaton Canyon Falls, here are a few tips. Start early in the day to avoid crowds and enjoy the tranquility of the trail. Wear comfortable hiking shoes and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated. Keep in mind that swimming in the waterfall is not allowed, so be sure to respect the rules and regulations of the area.

Eaton Canyon Falls is a true gem in Southern California, offering a scenic and accessible adventure for all. So grab your hiking gear, pack your camera, and get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of this Yosemite-like wonder in the San Gabriels.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any swimming areas or pools near Three Sisters Falls?

Yes, there are swimming holes near Three Sisters Falls. The top two tiers have swimming spots for cliff jumping, offering water activities and summer fun. However, it’s important to prioritize water safety while enjoying these natural pools.

What is the best time of year to visit Sturtevant Falls?

The best time of year to visit Sturtevant Falls is during the spring months when the snow melts creating a powerful and beautiful waterfall. I recommend going early in the morning to capture the best lighting for photography.

Are there any restrictions on photography at Bonita Falls?

There are no specific photography restrictions at Bonita Falls. However, it is always important to be respectful of the environment and other visitors. Additionally, swimming is not allowed at Bonita Falls, but it is possible at Three Sisters Falls and Sturtevant Falls during the appropriate season. Lastly, Eaton Canyon Falls is a great spot for picnicking, and there is no entrance fee for Big Falls.

Can you bring a picnic to Eaton Canyon Falls?

Yes, you can bring a picnic to Eaton Canyon Falls. It’s a great spot for a picnic with scenic views. Remember picnic etiquette, pack easy-to-eat foods like sandwiches and fruits, and bring sunscreen, water, and a blanket. Enjoy your meal surrounded by nature!

Is there a fee to visit Big Falls?

There is no fee to visit Big Falls. Parking availability can be limited, so it’s best to arrive early. The trail to the falls is very easy and accessible. Visitors should be cautious of slippery rocks and watch out for wildlife.

Final Thoughts on Waterfalls In Southern California

After exploring the stunning waterfalls of Southern California, I am in awe of the natural beauty that this region has to offer. From the towering heights of Big Falls to the year-round flow of Bonita Falls, each waterfall has its own unique charm. Although Sturtevant Falls is currently closed, there are still plenty of options to choose from, such as Cedar Creek Falls and Three Sisters Falls.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a family-friendly adventure, Southern California’s waterfalls are sure to leave you breathless. Don’t miss the chance to experience these natural wonders for yourself!

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