Eaton Canyon Waterfall Hiking Trail in Pasadena with Kids

Eaton Canyon is a beautiful trail along a river that leads up to a waterfall. Located in Pasadena, California, it’s an easy to moderate trail that’s doable with kids. There’s a long version and a short version of the hike, depending where you park and start.

It’s one of many waterfall hikes in the Los Angeles area. See this list of the best kid-friendly waterfall trails near Los Angeles.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What is the Eaton Canyon Falls Trail?

Places to sit around the waterfall

Nestled in the picturesque San Gabriel Mountains near Pasadena, California, Eaton Canyon Falls Trail offers a remarkable outdoor experience for families seeking a memorable hiking adventure. This scenic trail is known for its natural beauty, tranquil atmosphere, and, of course, the breathtaking waterfall that awaits at the end. With its moderate difficulty level and captivating surroundings, Eaton Canyon Falls Trail is the perfect destination for families looking to reconnect with nature and create lasting memories together.

Why It’s a Great Trail for Kids

Eaton Canyon Falls Trail is an exceptional hiking destination for families, and completely doable with children (we did it with an infant and a toddler!) First, it offers an opportunity for kids to engage with the great outdoors and discover the wonders of nature firsthand. The trail’s moderate difficulty level might be difficult for young kids, but it will be fun and challenging for older children. They’ll love walking on rocks across the river or climbing up steep hills. The trail’s captivating scenery, lush vegetation, rocky terrain, flowing river, and a stunning waterfall, will definitely create a sense of awe and wonder.

River crossing at beginning of longer trail

What is the Trail Like?

There are 2 different trailheads you could start at. The Eaton Canyon Nature Center trailhead is about a 3.5-mile round trip hike, while the Mt Wilson/Pinecrest Gate Trailhead is about a 2-mile round trip hike.

If you start at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center, the first mile is flat and partially shaded with a gradual incline. At the beginning, you’ll cross over a shallow river which is also a nice area for kids to play.

Flat path on longer trail

If you start at the Mt Wilson/Pinecrest Gate, the first 0.2-mile of the trail is a part paved and part dirt road that is unshaded, and on a gradual decline.

Bridge before entering canyon, 0.6 miles to waterfall

Both trails meet up at the Mt Wilson Toll bridge, and from there it’s 0.6 miles to the waterfall. The trail enters the canyon and is mostly shaded. It winds along the river, and you cross over it a few times on rocks and logs. There are few places on the trail that can be a bit rocky, and small kids will need some help climbing up on.

Trail winds along the river

When you get to the waterfall, you’ll find a large open area and large rocks that you can sit on to relax and enjoy the view. The there’s a nice pool at the base of the waterfall that’s a few feet deep that you can wade into.

What to Bring with You

When hiking Eaton Canyon Falls Trail with kids, it’s important to be prepared. Here are some essential items to bring along:

  • Water: Carry an ample supply of water to stay hydrated throughout the hike, especially during warmer months.
  • Snacks: Pack nutritious snacks to keep energy levels up during the trek.
  • Comfortable clothing and sturdy footwear: Dress in layers, as th trail may alternate from being warm to being cool. Wear comfortable hiking shoes or sneakers, and consider bringing hats and sunscreen to protect against the sun.
  • Trail Essentials: It’s a good idea to carry a small first aid kit and insect repellent.

Where is Eaton Canyon Falls Trail?

Easy to spot waterfall as you get closer

Eaton Canyon Falls is actually located in the Angeles National Forest. There are a few different trails that connect leading to the waterfall. There’s the longer trail which starts in Pasadena and is 1.7 miles to the waterfall, making it a 3.5-mile round trip hike. The shorter route starts farther north in Altadena, and is only 0.8 miles to the waterfall, making it a much shorter 1.6-mile round trip hike. However, this one has been closed recently.

Eaton Canyon Nature Center (3.5-mile hike)
1750 N Altadena Dr
Pasadena, CA 91107

Mt Wilson / Pinecrest Gate (1.6-mile hike)
2264-2270 Pinecrest Dr
Altadena, CA 91001

Directions to Get There

To reach trailhead at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center, take the I-210 and exit at Altadena Drive. Head north on Altadena Drive and continue until it becomes New York Drive. Then, turn left onto Pinecrest Drive, which leads directly to the Eaton Canyon Nature Center parking lot, the starting point of the trail.


Ample parking is available at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center parking lot. However, due to the popularity of the trail, the parking lot can fill up quickly, especially on weekends and holidays. It is recommended to arrive early to secure a parking spot. In case the parking lot is full, additional overflow parking may be available nearby. Be sure to follow any posted signs and regulations to avoid any issues.

At the Mt Wilson/Pinecrest Gate, only street parking is available and can be sparse, so depending on how far away you park from the gate, it could be a slightly longer hike.

Cost to Visit:

One of the great advantages of Eaton Canyon Falls Trail is that it is free to visit. There is no entrance fee or permit required, making it an accessible and affordable outdoor activity for families.


There are restrooms at Eaton Canyon Nature Center at the trailhead.

Best Time to Visit

Multiple river crossings

The ideal time to hike Eaton Canyon Falls Trail is during the spring months, from March to May, when the weather is mild, and the wildflowers are in full bloom. The waterfall is also likely to be more impressive during this time due to increased water flow from melting snow in the mountains. Weekdays tend to be less crowded compared to weekends, offering a quieter and more serene experience for families. To avoid the midday heat, it is recommended to start the hike early in the morning or late afternoon.

Video of us Hiking the Eaton Canyon falls Trail

Looking for more nearby waterfall hikes? Take a look at this list of the top family-friendly waterfall trails in L.A.

Hiking Eaton Canyon Falls Trail with kids is an exceptional adventure that combines the beauty of nature, physical activity, and family bonding. With its accessible trail, stunning waterfall, and educational opportunities, Eaton Canyon Falls Trail offers a memorable experience that will inspire a love for the outdoors in children.

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