There are many waterfall hikes in and near Los Angeles, and while some of them can be long, there are several that are doable for kids.
Waterfall hikes are great for children because it gives them something to look forward to at the end of the hike. Also, most of these waterfalls allow you to wade into the pools or even touch the waterfalls themselves, which is a really fun experience for kids. Most of trails go along a stream coming from the waterfall, so the hike itself is more interesting since you can make little stops to go down and play in the creek.
While many people don’t realize it, there’s actually dozens of waterfalls around the Los Angeles area. Here are just the shortest and easiest ones that are accessible for the whole family.
Criteria for Kid-Friendly Hikes
So what’s our criteria for family friendly? In our experience of going on hikes with our babies and toddlers, here are our requirements:
- Short: less than 2 miles total
- Easy: Less than 400 feet in elevation gain
- Walkable: no major climbing involved, considering children walking or being carried.
Of course this is dependent on you and the age of your kids, but we’ve found this criteria to work for us.
Top LA Waterfall Hikes for Kids
Here’s our list of hikes to waterfalls near the Los Angeles area, from shortest to longest.
- Lewis Falls near Azusa
- Millard Canyon Falls near Altadena
- Heart Rock Waterfall in Crestline
- San Antonio Falls near Mt Baldy
- Eaton Canyon Falls
- Solstice Canyon
1. Lewis Falls near Azusa
Total Hike Distance: 1.1 Miles
Hike Elevation Gain: 360ft
Waterfall Height: 50ft
Hike Parking / Trailhead: State Rte 39, Azusa, CA 91702 (on the side of the road, where it crosses Soldier Creek.
Hike Overview: This is a mostly shaded trail with lots of scenery along the way. You’ll pass by large boulders, walk under a fallen tree log, and see a few mini waterfalls along the trail. There are a few places where you’ll cross over the river on stones. As you get to the waterfall, you may need to wade into the water a bit to get closer.
Getting There: There’s only one way to get to the waterfalls. You’ll need to be going east or west on 210 freeway, and exit Azusa Ave. Head north and it turns into San Gabriel Canyon Rd / Hwy 39 as you wind into the mountains. It’s roughly 19 miles up the mountain road. There’s no parking lot, but when you pass by Soldier Creek you can park on the right side of the road on the bend.
2. Millard Canyon Falls near Altadena
Total Hike Distance: 1.2 miles
Hike Elevation Gain: 150ft
Waterfall Height: 60 ft
Hike Parking / Trailhead: Millard Trail Camp, 4041 Chaney Trail, Altadena, CA 91001
Hike Overview: There is a long version and a short version of this hike. The shorter, kid-friendly version starts at the lower parking lot and is just over a mile. Most of it is shaded and easy to walk. There are 2-3 places where a little bit of climbing is required, but we were able to do it carrying our baby and toddler. You’ll also cross over the river multiple times. The waterfall is in a narrow canyon with a shallow pool, and you can walk right up to the falls and touch it.
Getting There: Heading east or west on the 210 freeway, exit in the Pasadena / Altadena area and head towards the mountains. Getting to Loma Alta Dr, you’ll turn on Chaney Trail to head up the mountain about a mile. When you hit Mountain Truck Trail, there will be parking spots on the right which is the start of the long version of the trail. Instead, turn left to head down into the valley. You’ll dead end into the lower parking lot, which is where you’ll want to start your hike. There’s a few different trailheads here, so make sure you follow the right one.
3. Heart Rock Waterfall (Seely Creek Falls) in Crestline
Total Hike Distance: 1.4 miles
Hike Elevation Gain: 260ft
Waterfall Height: 20ft
Hike Parking / Trailhead: 250 CA-138, Crestline, CA 92325
Hike Overview: This is a mostly shaded walk along along a creek. When you get to the falls, it is a bit rocks and the ledge overlooking falls is steep, so be careful with kids. You can also walk down to the bottom of the waterfalls for a different view.
Getting There: If you’re coming from the LA area, you’ll head up Hwy 18 from the 210 freeway. As you get into the mountains, take the exit to Hwy 138 into Crestline. As you approach Camp Seely, there is a one lane road to the left that you’ll take all the way down until it ends at a closed gate, and you’ll find some parking on the side of the road. This is where the trailhead starts.
4. San Antonio Falls near Mt Baldy
Total Hike Distance: 1.4 miles
Hike Elevation Gain: 285ft
Waterfall Height: 75ft
Hike Parking / Trailhead: San Antonio Falls Trailhead, 993 Falls Rd, Mt Baldy, CA 91759
Hike Overview: This is an easy hike on a mostly paved and unshaded road with great views of the mountains. The road ends at a vista point of the waterfalls. From there, you can walk down a little bit over rocky terrain to get closer to the waterfalls and go up to a shallow pool.
Getting There: From the 210 freeway, exit Mills Ave and head north towards the mountains. You’ll then connect with Mt Baldy Rd, and take it up about 12 miles into the mountains. About a half mile before the road ends at Mt Baldy Resort, the road will split with parking spots available on the sides. Park anywhere there, as close to the trailhead as you can get.
5. Eaton Canyon Waterfall in Altadena
Total Hike Distance: 1.6 miles / 3.5 miles
Hike Elevation Gain: 269ft / 427ft
Waterfall Height: 20ft
Hike Parking / Trailhead: 2264-2270 Pinecrest Dr, Altadena, CA 91001 (Short) or 1750 N Altadena Dr, Pasadena, CA 91107 (Long)
Hike Overview: There is along version and a short version of this trail. The short version starts at the Mt Wilson / Pinecrest gate, but that has been closed recently. If still closed, the long version of the trail starts at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center. The long version has about a mile of walking on relatively flat and not-so-shaded path up to a bridge. The short version starts closer to the bridge. From the bridge it’s a short half mile winding trail through a shaded canyon, crossing over a stream a few times. The trail ends at the waterfall, with a big enough pool that you could take a dip in.
Getting There: Head towards Pasadena on the 210 freeway. Exit on Altadena Dr and go north. Depending on which trailhead you take, you’ll either turn into the Eaton Canyon Nature Center on your right, or head a little farther north and find parking on the residential streets near the Mt Wilson gate.
6. Solstice Canyon Falls in Malibu
Total Hike Distance: 2 miles
Hike Elevation Gain: 296ft
Waterfall Height: 30ft
Hike Parking / Trailhead: Solstice Canyon Education Shelter, TRW Loop Trail, Malibu, CA 90265
Hike Overview: This trail is mostly flat and unshaded through the Malibu canyons. The loop version of the trail is longer and has some steep inclines with great views of the ocean, but the the shorter easier version is just straight there and back on the same path. As you near the end of the trail, you’ll see the ruins of an old mansion terrace that’s fun to explore. From there, the waterfall is just around the corner. The end of the trail is railed off so you can’t actually get close to the falls, but is still a nice view.
Getting There: From Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, head inland on Corral Canyon Rd. Just around the corner is the turnoff for Solstice Canyon Rd, and there’s a few parking spots there. But continue about a half mile up the one-lane road and it ends in a slightly bigger parking lot, which is the start of the trailhead.
Have you had a chance to go on any of these waterfall hikes? Share with us in the comments, and if you have social media photos or video, drop a link to your post or account so we can check it out.