Family Hike: Escondido Falls

Today we set out to check off another of the hikes in Bryn Fox’s Best Easy Day Hikes: West Los Angeles. We’ve set it as a family challenge to complete all the hikes in the book. We have now successfully completed 4 of the 18 hikes described in the book.

Today’s choice was between a beach hike at Point Dume or this hike in Escondido Canyon to a waterfall, both in Malibu. The weather was beautiful but a little cool so we chose to save the beach hike for a warmer day when we could stay and play and possibly swim. We headed out to Escondido Canyon expecting a “delightfully flat” 4-mile hike to a “tranquil travertine rock pool at the base of a 50-foot waterfall,” but what we experienced was something much more arduous and adventurous and stunning.

The hike began with a one-mile trek up along a road. Apparently, the homeowners of the multi-million dollar homes along the road don’t want people driving up and down their road and parking along it near the trailhead. It wasn’t the most exciting start to the hike, but we enjoyed the views of the impressive properties and ocean on this clear day.

Hike along the road to the trailhead

We hiked along the road for a mile before we arrived at the trailhead.

Finally, we saw the trailhead sign; we were happy to reach the beginning of the real hike.  At that point, the hike did become more flat and was pretty straightforward. We crossed a creek a few times and frequently greeted other hikers. We were surprised at how popular this hike was. It seemed to be especially popular with college age kids, maybe from Pepperdine which is nearby.

At one point, Doobie and Daddy ran ahead of Sonny and me. Soon, Sonny declared he was bored. Luckily, before Sonny had a chance to complain too much, he was startled by three horses coming up behind him. We let them pass and it was now kind of fun following right behind the horses. We’d never encountered horses along a trail before! Before we knew it, we were at the waterfall, and it really was a very tranquil setting, especially with the horses lingering in the rock pool at the bottom of the waterfall. It felt a bit like we had been transported out of Los Angeles. Thinking this was our final destination, I brought out my special treat, Norwegian milk chocolate, which was devoured quickly.

First waterfall in Escondido Canyon

At the first waterfall, we enjoyed watching horses and eating chocolate.

But then we noticed people were climbing up and practically tumbling down an area next to us. We decided to see what that was all about. That’s when the real adventure began.  There was no straightforward trail from this point on. We climbed two steps up and often slipped one step back down. We held on to roots, branches, rocks, and rope to keep us from losing our foothold. At one point, we had to wait in line as people took turns using a rope to climb across a steep, slippery slope. We climbed over boulders to cross a now wider, deeper creek. There were ample opportunities to get dirty, muddy, and wet now, just like a muddy lady we had seen and wondered about earlier. And ample opportunities to get injured, just like a lady we’d seen being carried out on a stretcher earlier in our hike.

Hiking to the second waterfall

It wasn’t easygoing to get to the second waterfall!

But it was worth it when we eventually arrived at the top. The waterfall at the top was like nothing we’d seen before and certainly didn’t expect around here. The rock wall was 150 feet high and covered in moss with water running down all over the face. We could feel the coolness and mist from the waterfall as we approached the pool at the bottom of the waterfall. It almost felt like we were in some kind foreign, tropical setting. One day we may return to this hike after some rain. Apparently, the pool at the bottom of the waterfall can become quite large and even be swimmable. That would certainly be a unique LA adventure to experience.

The second waterfall in Escondido Canyon

The second waterfall was so tall that we couldn’t even get the whole thing in the picture!

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