A few weeks ago, after staying indoors thanks to the weather and school schedules, we were looking for a new adventure. So we attempted a new trail. We looked for a nice waterfall hike, one that would be dog-friendly and that would be relatively easy to get to from home. Google came back with Trail Canyon Falls. The reviews online looked good, and the trail didn’t seem too steep or strenuous, so we packed up the pupper and his gear and headed west to the Angeles National Forest in Big Tujunga.
The western portion of the Angeles is an area that I have driven through more than I have actually hiked. Switzer Falls is probably as far as I’ve gone west; Baden-Powell, Crystal Lake and Mt. Islip, and the PCT are further east within the boundaries of the national forest, with Mt. Baldy being on the border of the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests. While these parts don’t have the same high intensity trails that draw serious hikers, there are still some lovely hikes that offer up a bit of a challenge. The Trail Canyon Falls hike is one that I would consider to be.
To get to the trailhead from the Pasadena area, we took Interstate 210 and exited Sunland. From Sunland we turned onto Oro Vista Road, and went through some residential neighborhoods, which after about a mile or two became more sparsely populated. We went a total of five miles on Oro Vista before turning onto Forest Route 3N29/Gold Canyon Truck Trail. After about 45 minutes in the car, our boy was getting anxious to start his adventure, to I was glad that the three miles on the truck trail went quickly, and parking on the side of the road near Trail Canyon Road was easy to find. After strapping Owen’s Wolf Republic pack on him and giving myself a quick spritz of bug spray, we were ready to hit the trail.
The weather on the day of our hike was pretty perfect. There was some nice cloud cover in the afternoon that kept the temperatures down. We followed the signs marking the direction of the trail and headed up the fire road. The road took us past some cabins, and we dreamed about how nice it would be to have a place in the mountains. We crossed the stream, and the road follows a tributary creek and soon meets up to the actual Trail Canyon Trail.
This trail was really nice. The trail itself was pretty flat for the most part. The elevation gain was about 700 feet or so over about 2.5 miles, so it was really manageable. The scenery was really pretty with riparian forest in the quiet of the Tujunga Canyon. The more difficult task was actually getting to the bottom of the falls. The trail down to the canyon floor and the base of the falls was very steep, with a 40-foot drop. To get down to the falls, we had to repel down a series of ropes that were tied together.
There was no way that Owen with his four paws and advanced age was going to be able to make it down or up safely. So Jacob offered to stay with Owen and allow him to sniff around while Emily and I repelled down the cliff. We were rewarded with a nice view of the waterfall.
After spending a few minutes taking in the view, we climbed back up and met Jacob and Owen on the trail. Not one to deny our dog a water adventure, we continued on the trail and found the stream that would lead to the top of the waterfall. Owen was a happy camper bounding and sniffing in the water. After allowing him some time to explore just beyond the top of the falls, we began the trek back.
The hike back was just as pleasant as the hike up. The downhill was gradual and didn’t put the same strain on the knees that many of the other hikes we take tend to do. Owen was able to keep his energy up throughout the hike, and getting back to the car was not difficult. This hike is definitely one that I would recommend for those who want a moderate hike with a stream and water features. It is dog friendly, although I would not recommend the drop to the base of the waterfall with a dog. In all, it was a really pleasant hike and a happy trail.
Some things to consider:
This hike is rated as moderate. The trail itself is mostly wide and relatively flat, though there is a 700 foot elevation gain in the canyon. The hike out and back was about five miles. Be sure to know your limits and those of your dog. As always, bring plenty of water and trail snacks.
There is shade on the trail, however there are some exposed areas. The area was affected by the Station Fire back in 2009, and some of the old shade-providing trees were burned down. Bring sunscreen and a hat.
The waterfall is most impressive following the rainy season. We went in early May, and there was a good amount of water at that point, even with the current drought. It can slow to a trickle during the summer months especially if there are few late storms, as is the case at time of writing.
I read that the Adventure Pass was not required to park on the Forest Road. I haven’t seen a definitive answer on this. I had mine up just in case, but it looked like many of the cars did not have their passes displayed, so this could be true.
This is just one of a few hikes that can be had in the west side of the Angeles. While it’s no Baden-Powell, Trail Canyon was a great hike. And the doggo loved it! Happy tails!