EATON CANYON WATERFALL
1750 N. Altadena Drive, Pasadena
In this heat, what could sound better than a dip in a natural swimming hole at the base of a 50-foot waterfall? I lived in Pasadena for five years and had heard about the waterfall in Eaton Canyon but never tried to find it until a couple of weeks ago. We had a free afternoon and our dog loves swimming, so we decided to check it out.
The Eaton Canyon website is really helpful in planning for the hike. There are two options for getting to the waterfall, depending on how strenuous a trip you want to make. You can park in the Nature Center's lot at 1750 N. Altadena Drive, walk up a slight incline then over the stream bed for a 1.5-mile total trek. Keep in mind, that it is 1.5 miles one way, so your total roundtrip ends up being about three miles.
For a shorter hike, you drive a mile past the Nature Center on Altadena, turn right on Crescent Drive then right on Pinecrest Drive. Just a short way up Pinecrest you'll see the Pinecrest gate, a chain link fence that remains open until sunset. When you're looking for parking, make sure to pay attention to the restricted parking signs posted on Pinecrest (usually you can find a spot on Bowring Drive). After passing through the Pinecrest gate, you're on the Mt. Wilson Toll Road which takes you down to a cement bridge. Keep to the right as you walk the length of the bridge so you end up making a loop to get onto the dry stream bed that is located directly under the bridge.
Whether you take the long or short hike, this is where the journey up the stream bed to the waterfall begins. It is .4 miles to the waterfall (so a .8 mile round-trip for those of you who started at Pinecrest gate). There are lots of rocks to climb over and you have to cross small rivulets of water, so make sure to wear sneakers and bring flip flops or water shoes for the waterfall area. It's not too long of a hike, but it gets a little tiring since it's not a flat path and you have to be mindful of where you put your feet. It's fun to cross the stream, jumping from stone to stone, and there's no chance of you getting lost because the trail ends up in just one place: the waterfall.
We went on a Saturday afternoon, which was actually a big mistake because the waterfall area was packed. Small children swam in the pool at the base of the waterfall, splashing and screaming as water cascaded over their heads. People lounged in the shade of the rock walls surrounding the fall, enjoying picnic lunches and the sounds of teens playing djembe drums. It was the perfect spot to cool off and rest before hiking back to the car. I'm sure that we'll return to the waterfall again soon – just not on a weekend.
For more information, visit ecnca.org/hiking_trails/waterfall.html.