Falls Creek Falls
- Location: Angeles National Forest, near the Clear Creek Ranger Station. From I-210, take the Angeles Crest Highway (Highway 2) north for 9.3 miles. Turn left on the Angeles Forest Highway and go 3.8 miles. Take a left on Big Tujunga Canyon Road and in 0.6 miles, park in a dirt turnout on the right. From Highway 14, take the Angeles Forest Highway exit. Turn right on Sierra Highway and left onto Angeles Forest Highway. Go 20. 8 miles and turn right on Big Tujunga Canyon Road. From the end of Mt. Gleason Road near Sunland, turn right on Big Tujunga Canyon Road and the turnout will be on your left at 10.4 miles. A National Forest Service Adventure Pass ($5 per day or $30 for the year) is required to park here. To purchase a pass, click here.
- Agency: Angeles National Forest/Los Angeles River Ranger District
- Distance: 4.2 miles
- Elevation gain: 750 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2.5 hours
- Best season: October – June
- USGS topo map: “Condor Peak”
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; Poison oak cream
- More information: Trip reports here and here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 8
It’s hard to say why Falls Creek Falls isn’t better known. Although it requires a little bit of an off trail scramble (with poison oak) and it’s flow isn’t reliable year round, this 70-foot waterfall is one of the overlooked treasures of the San Gabriel Mountains–despite having a somewhat redundant name.
Falls Creek Falls actually has four separate tiers, totaling about 200 feet, but unfortunately only the lowest one can be viewed from up close (without rappelling equipment). Since this blog is Nobody Hikes in L.A. and not Nobody Rappels in L.A., the trek to the lowest tier is what is described in this post.
From Big Tujunga Road, head downhill on a fire road. You descend into the rugged depths of Big Tujunga Canyon. The area was burned in the Station Fire, and the terrain is a little tricky in some spots, but not too bad overall. At 1.1 miles, you’ll pass by a small, two-level seasonal waterfall on the right. Shortly afterward, you get your first glimpse at Falls Creek Falls, across the canyon.
At 1.7 miles, the trail reaches the bottom of Big Tujunga Canyon. Here, you head left, following the stream. If the water is high and you’re worried about continuing downstream, this can be a nice place to sit and relax before turning around.
There’s no exact route, but you can pretty easily reach the creek. Be careful of the poison oak, however. After climbing over a giant fallen tree, you’ll want to take off your shoes and walk in the creek for a short distance (you could also cross the creek here, but there’s more poison oak on the north bank.) You continue along the south wall of the canyon, and soon you see the waterfall.
There’s a shallow alcove, resembling a small cave, cut into the rock wall, and this marks the best spot to cross the creek. (Once again you’ll probably want to remove your shoes). On the other side, a short walk through the creek bed brings you to the base of Falls Creek Falls. The edge of the pool has a lot of poison oak around it, so be careful. There are a few rocks where you can sit and enjoy the waterfall before heading back.
While the hike to Falls Creek Falls does present its challenges, it’s not too difficult if you know what to expect and prepare accordingly. Even if the waterfall isn’t flowing, or if the creek is high and you decide not to follow it to the falls, this rugged, isolated area is well worth a visit.
Text and photography copyright 2011 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. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.