Text and photography copyright 2010 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
Monrovia Canyon Falls
- Location: Foothills north of Monrovia. From I-210, take the Myrtle Avenue exit and drive north for 1.9 miles. Take a right on Scenic Drive, and stay straight when Canyon Blvd. merges. Follow Canyon Blvd. to the entrance of the park. There is a $5 entrance fee. Drive half a mile more and park at the nature center.
- Agency: Monrovia Canyon Park
- Distance: 1.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 500 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Best season: Year-round (best after recent rains; closed on Tuesdays)
- USGS topo maps: “Azusa”
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
- More information: here
- Rating: 7
Many of the people with whom I’ve shared my hiking obsession have commented that they didn’t know how many waterfalls were in the Los Angeles area. We might not have Yosemite Falls or Angel Falls or Multnomah Falls here in So-Cal, but we do have some that are definitely worth a visit–especially after the recent rains. Of these, Monrovia Canyon Falls is one of the most accessible. It was my first waterfall hike, and second overall (after the San Juan Loop). It does tend to get crowded on the weekends, but it’s short enough that it should be pretty easy to squeeze in even on a work day.
From the nature center, follow the trail into the canyon, where you’re shaded by oaks and alders. The trail merges with another trail leading from the lower parking lot (if you want a longer hike, consider starting from the other trail head), and heads up into the canyon. Young or inexperienced hikers may find some of the navigation a little tricky, especially if the trail is washed out (there are some spots were it clings to the side of the canyon), but if you’re careful there shouldn’t be a problem.
After less than a mile from the nature center, you arrive at the 40-foot waterfall, at the back of a small grotto. The water goes down two different levels, set at a slight angle from each other. The area is perfect for a short snack break.
If you enjoy the hike to the falls and want more of a challenge, consider the longer Ben Overturff trail, also in the park. Note that the Overturff trail is closed on Wednesdays as well as Tuesdays.