Eaton Canyon is one of the most popular hiking spots in the San Gabriel Mountains and features a little something for everyone.
The trail begins atop a very large and free parking lot. It is a very pronounced trail, large enough to drive a truck (or ride a horse) on. It is also a relatively flat trail, following alongside the mostly flat canyon bed. For this reason, the first mile of the trail draws in many casual hikers and families with strollers and child-carriers. It is also not uncommon to see children running around with nets in search of a frog.
After about a mile, the trail transitions from a wide dirt road to a more common hiking 4’ wide hiking trail. This change occurs almost directly after pass underneath a beautiful bridge that connects Mount Wilson Toll Road across Eaton Canyon. The terrain becomes a bit more varied for the remainder of the hike, with the trail traversing across decomposed granite. Because of these mini-hazards, one will notice that some of the crowds do thin out from the bridge to the waterfall a half-mile further down. However, this hike is so accessible and uniquely pretty that solitude is not one attribute I would associate with Eaton Canyon.
Finally, this trail culminates at Lower Eaton Canyon Falls, a large wash of whitewater splendor. There are recreational options around the waterfall; many people enjoy a swim in the pool just below the waterfall. Others may choose to take advantage of the wonderful rappelling opportunities around this waterfall and the many others that feed into it from Eaton Wash. Still others may choose to sharpen their photography skills in a very popular yet still beautiful abode of nature in our backyard.
Hike At A Glance
Difficulty Level (1-10): 2
Distance: 3 miles roundtrip
Scenery: The view varies, from a wide view looking into a canyon to much narrow canyon landscapes near the waterfall.
Best time to go: Year-round, but be careful during rain season (for flash floods).
Trail condition: This trail is very easy to follow and well established.
Other considerations: You can make this hike even shorter by parking on Pinecrest and following the Mount Wilson Toll Road down to the trail. Also, just like anywhere in the San Gabriel Mountains, be mindful of typical hiking hazards like bees, snakes, and ticks.