Trail Canyon Falls is a 4.7 mile round trip west of San Gabriels, ending in spectacular 30 foot falls… when there’s water.
By Kitty Cahalan
Even with just a net, the end of the hike provides a cool, green, shaded place to rest and recover from the 875-foot vertical ascent. Beginning at Big Tujunga Canyon Road in Sunland with a steep climb up North Trail Canyon Road, the trail flattens out past several cabins, to the north of which it narrows into a single track that winds along the floor of Trail Canyon. Stream crossings are easy during the dry times of the year, more intimidating during the wet season.
At 1.5 miles, the trail leaves the creek bed, past one of the many oaks recovering from the 2009 station fire, and ascends the west wall of the canyon, with stunning views of the mountain peaks. north and south. After mile 2 the path takes a hairpin bend to the west just before the falls. Continue straight to take in the view from the rocks at the top of the falls, or take the path to the right to the base. This last path is dangerous enough that ropes have been placed to cover part of it. Test the safety of the ropes and be aware that on busy days, traffic on the roped section can cause long waits to descend or ascend, as only one can be safely on the rope at a time.
The majority of this hike is exposed so early in the morning when the canyon is still in the shade makes the trip more enjoyable during the warmer months. Water and sunscreen as always, and non-slip shoes that can handle slippery stone or log creek crossings and the steep descent to the base of the falls. Hiking poles can help provide stability on a few narrow portions of the trail along the steep canyon wall. Other hikers include families and dog walkers. During the dry months, when the stream is reduced to stagnant ponds, be sure to bring water for the puppies.
Parking is free and does not require an Adventure Pass. The intersection of Trail Canyon Road and Big Tujunga Canyon Road has parking space for a few cars, but once that area is full, cars must park on Big Tujunga Canyon Road. There is no bathroom.
Hiked 6/6/21 and 1/17/20
Kitty cahalan lives in Pasadena and spends his middle years enjoying the Southern California wilderness.