Looking for an awesome, easy waterfall hike in Southern California? Check out the Fish Canyon Falls. This 80 foot tall waterfall has three tiers and a beautiful, clear pool at the the bottom. The trail itself winds along a tree-lined canyon beside a babbling creek. The payoff? An awesome waterfall, without having to climb thousands of feet in elevation. In fact, the trailhead is just two miles off the nearest freeway.
The Fish Canyon Falls are beautiful, and the hike is family- and dog-friendly.
The trail begins in Duarte a the end of Fish Canyon Road.
The Fish Canyon Trail
This out-and-back trail begins at a bridge crossing the creek. Follow the trail along the tree-lined canyon as it winds it’s way along the creek.
In the early 1900s, Fish Canyon was popular for weekend cabins, and there were at one time as many as 100 cabins lining the steep canyon. Sadly, fires and floods took their toll on most of them, and today there are only remnants of those rustic weekend getaways.
The trail is generally easy, although there are a few sections where it’s quite steep and you’ll want to pay attention to where you step. There is one creek crossing, but unless there have been heavy rains, it’s an easy boulder hop across.
The trail ends at the base of the Fish Canyon Falls. This three-tier waterfall drops 80 feet into a beautiful pool. We spied newts in the water, numerous wildflowers along the way, and… poison oak. I recommend long hiking pants. The trail is narrow at many points and brushing against the poison oak almost a certainty.
There is a downside to having such a beautiful waterfall, so easily accessible to most of Southern California: it’s very popular. Get there early to beat the crowds, and even then, don’t expect solitude.
“Hidden” Darling Donna Falls
On the way back, about 50 yards past the creek crossing you’ll notice a small tributary on your right. Follow this off-trail for about 10-15 yards to the little-known “Darling Donna” Falls. There used to be a sign for this, but it disappeared long ago.
Are There Fish in Fish Canyon?
I was wondering this myself. I haven’t seen any fish, but I did see two fly fisherman trying their luck.
Yes, Fish Canyon Falls are popular and busy, but definitely worth visiting. Go prepared for the crowd, and enjoy the social, almost festival-like atmosphere. You’ll appreciate those lesser-walked trails even more!
Fish Canyon Falls Trail Map
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More Fish Canyon Falls Trail Resources
- Fish Canyon Falls GPX
- Fish Canyon Falls – Dan’s Hiking Pages
- The Very Popular and Rarely Visited Fish Canyon Falls – Greene Adventures
- Fish Canyon Falls – OP Adventure Team
- Fish Canyon Falls – California Through My Lens