Southern California may be best known for its beaches, but it is also home to several gorgeous waterfalls! From roadside cascades to waterfalls that require a hike to get to, here are 10 stunning falls you’ll want to check out on your next trip to the area.
1. Escondido Falls
These gorgeous falls are well-loved in Los Angeles County for a reason! To reach the falls, you’ll take a 3.8-mile round trip hike through Escondido Canyon Park.
2. Trail Canyon Falls
Head over to Angeles National Forest to see Trail Canyon Falls. This is a great option for those who are interested in a bit of a challenge – the falls are viewable via a 4.5-mile trail with a 990-foot elevation gain. Dogs are also allowed on the trail as long as they are on a leash. A word of caution – the flow of this waterfall can vary, with the falls slowing to more of a trickle in times of drought. The surrounding area remains beautiful regardless, however!
3. Nojoqui Falls
Located in Nojoqui Falls Park, this 80-foot waterfall is accessible via a gorgeous trail just over half a mile. The short and sweet trek required to reach it makes it especially great for families or those not wanting to embark on too long of a hike. The falls are semi-seasonal, however, and are typically flowing the most in early spring.
4. Salmon Creek Falls
Head up to Monterey County to view Salmon Creek Falls. This 120-foot waterfall is located just off of Highway-1. This makes it a great option for those looking to take in a waterfall in California without much of a hike!
5. Bonita Falls
Cascading over 300 feet, Bonita Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in southern California. You can see this gorgeous waterfall for yourself with a 1.5-mile hike via Bonita Falls Trail. Parking for the trail can be limited, so you may want to arrive early or be open to parking a little further away and walking to the trailhead.
6. Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls is a small but beautiful waterfall near Murrieta. It should be noted that while the trail to the falls is open and beautiful year-round, the falls themselves are seasonal – late winter and early spring are when you’ll want to visit to see it flowing!
7. Seven Falls
If you’re willing to head a bit further north in Santa Barbara county, consider checking out Seven Falls! These stunning falls cascade into granite pools below. A 1.5 mile, fairly easy hike is needed to reach the falls. Those looking for a challenge can also continue an additional 1.5 miles to Mission Falls, though this section of the hike is very steep. Like several falls in California, water flow can depend on current drought conditions, meaning a late winter or spring visit will likely be the best time to see the falls flowing fully!
8. Lewis Falls
A trip to Lewis Falls is perfect for those looking for a short hike and a beautiful destination! This waterfall is located in Los Angeles County. You’ll follow the river just over a mile up the canyon, occasionally crossing the water, to make it to Lewis Falls.
9. Cooper Canyon Falls
Located in Los Angeles county, Cooper Canyon Falls features a gorgeous hike leading to an equally gorgeous destination! This is a great option for those looking for a bit of a longer adventure, as the trail to the falls is a 6.2-mile loop trail.
10. Penasquitos Falls
A gorgeous waterfall in San Diego County, Penasquitos Falls does require a hike to get to. You’ll be able to choose from several trails ranging from 2-6 miles long, making a trip to these falls perfect for hikers of all skill levels. Those looking for a hike directly to the falls will want to take either Penasquitos Falls Loop via Carmel Valley (2.8 miles) or Penasquitos Falls via Park Village (2.4 miles). There are also several other trails in the area that don’t directly lead to the falls, but are more than worth checking out!
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