Purists reserve the name Stoddard Canyon Falls for a series of difficult to reach waterfalls in nearby Stoddard Canyon, a tributary of San Antonio Canyon. The 30-foot waterfall described here is in San Antonio Canyon and has become known as Stoddard Canyon Falls due to its proximity to Barrett-Stoddard Road. The short but challenging up-canyon scramble to reach them is a good training exercise for more difficult off-trail treks such as Orange County’s Black Star Canyon Falls.
From the south end of the parking area by the Mt. Baldy Nature Preserve sign, head downhill on an abandoned paved road. This was the original route into San Antonio Canyon, built in 1908. It was destroyed in 1938 by the same flood that took out the road leading to the Bridge to Nowhere. Though rebuilt, it was rendered obsolete by present-day Mt. Baldy Road in 1955 and left abandoned after another flood wiped it out in 1969.
A quarter mile from the start, you reach a clearing where you can hear but not (safely) see the waterfall that is directly below. Soon after, you reach the first of several possible descent routes from the road bed to the canyon. An easier option is another 0.1 mile farther down the road. Whichever route you take, expect to use your hands as well as feet to negotiate the loose, steep slope down to the creek. Also make note of the spot for your return, although
At the creek, turn left and head upstream. Unless there has recently been a lot of rain, the going isn’t too tough; you can wade through the stream itself or hop rocks on either side. On the right bank, keep an eye out for the skeleton of an abandoned car, which actually makes for a good handhold.
The first real obstacle is a wide pool. Narrow rock ledges on either side can be negotiated with care (I found the left/west one to be easier). A little farther upstream, duck into a “cave” formed by a large granite boulder wedged against the rock wall of the canyon’s east side. Hoist yourself out of the cave via two fortuitously tree limbs that have been wedged in the crevices between the rocks. This brings you to the base of the waterfall and its large pool. It’s an enjoyable spot to sit and listen to the sound of the water that rushes through the rocky gorge, despite trash and graffiti that are the result of the canyon’s relatively easy accessibility (though it’s not as bad as some other waterfalls in the area, such as Bonita and Sapphire.) During the summer, this is a popular swimming hole.
Text and photography copyright 2016 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.