Escondido Falls

A popular trail in Malibu, when I last hiked here in September the falls were dry. Now, after a winter of rain, I returned in hopes of seeing what all the fuss is about.
Distance: About 5 miles

Driving Directions:  In Malibu, park in the free lot or on PCH at Winding Way East.  It’s about 1.5 miles down the coast from Kanan Dume Rd. and Pacific Coast Highway,  and about 4.5 miles up the coast from Malibu Canyon Rd. and Pacific Coast Highway, on the inland side.


   To reach the waterfall one must first hike up paved and private Winding Way for one mile.  I began at first light to avoid the crowds.


             After reaching a Crest in the road I knew I was almost to the trail.  It’s well signed.

   Looking up Escondido Canyon where the trail would lead me.


The hillsides were covered with colorful wildflowers brought by the warmth of springtime.


There are several water crossings. It was pretty easy going.  One foot did get soaked after a log I was crossing over rolled beneath me. It’s all part of the fun.

             Photos 1 and 2 – Natural patterns, striking because they’re irregular and imperfect.


I pass a shady spot with a large corrugated pipe.


   Photo 1 – I believe these flowers are Black-eyed Susans.  Photo 3 – After about 1.75 miles I spotted the upper tier of Escondido Falls.

        Under heavy canopy, I approach the foot of the falls.

   Gorgeous cascading water creating a sanctuary of white noise.

   It’s difficult to capture the waterfall in its entirety. I tried using a photo stitching program but the result was unsatisfactory, so here are a few shots from top to bottom.


Escondido Falls actually has three tiers. I had read of the danger of trying to reach the two upper tiers.  On the right is a trampled fence.  I passed over and climbed up a rough trail.  The dirt is very loose and almost immediately there is a scramble.  Photo 3 – On the left is a steep scramble with a rope. I read that an easier path lay ahead so I stuck to the trail.  Photo 4 – A few yards ahead I reached another steep climb and decided to turn back here.

        On the way back I took a spur trail heading east. A short distance ahead the spur dead-ends at a patch of dirt people have used as toilet. I grabbed a seat and ate lunch.  Just kidding.

   Oak limbs, growing unpredictably, twisted in every direction.

   I came to another spur, this trail about 0.3 miles from Winding Way. A trail marker points in the direction of the falls and I followed it on my way there.  Now I went in the opposite direction toward Latigo Canyon.

This is a beautiful canyon.

             Photo 1 – There’s a lone picnic table along the way.  Photo 3 – On the right a paved road came to an end. I assume this is the same road I exited when I entered the trail.  The road is closed due to hazardous conditions, according to a sign.

The hazardous conditions – looks part of the road has washed away and left a big hole.


There is something at the bottom, a small bulldozer or part of one anyway, swallowed by the mud.

             Photo 1 – I continued on the trail which became more narrow and a slightly overgrown.  Photos 2 and 3 – A motor, just hanging out by the side of the trail waiting for someone to give him loving a home.

There are a couple of concrete water crossings.


I had to maneuver between the branches of a downed tree.

        After about a half mile the trail ends at private property.

One last look at the beautiful wildflowers growing above Escondido Canyon. Short hike, good day.

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