Objective: Hike to Escondido Falls, Santa Monica Mountains, California
Distance: 3.6 miles (out and back)
Elevation Gain: 571’
Walk past fancy homes on Winding Way. Enjoy the shade of oak, sycamore, and walnut trees throughout Escondido Canyon. Escondido Falls appears at the end of the trail like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It is nice simply swinging beneath the grottos, moss, and trickling water. The dripping whiskers of a resting giant beckon you to climb the craggy hillside for a better look.
Directions to Trailhead
From the end of the 10, drive north 17.7 miles on PCH, past Malibu Lagoon and Pepperdine University. There is a small sign for the Winding Way Trail on the north side of the street that leads to a very small parking area. If parking is unavailable, you can park on PCH – just watch out for “No Parking” signs. The trailhead is by the parking lot.
Directions to Falls
Trailhead: For the first 0.75 miles, you will follow the dirt path on the side of Winding Way.
0.75 miles: The actual trail into Escondido Canyon descends to the left. This trail traverses the oak-lined canyon.
1.8 miles: You have reached the Lower Falls. If you like, you can climb to the base of Upper Falls or to the top of Upper Falls. This entails some light scrambling to get over the obstacles until you reach the base of the Upper Falls. There is a route you can climb (with ropes) to get behind the last cascade of the falls.
The first half of the route is along the side of a road. The second half is through an oak-filled canyon with plenty of shade.
At Escondido Falls, you can scramble up boulders and a super steep path to reach the Lower Falls, Upper Falls, or even the top of the falls. The falls are covered in green moss and vegetation and the water drips over small grottos that you can climb into. There is a swing by the Lower Falls. When I was at the Upper Falls, there was a small rock slide.