Big Falls Trail

EASY 6 reviews
#1 of 3 trails in

Big Falls Trail is a 4.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Arroyo Grande, CA that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking and walking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

4.5 miles 1102 feet Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly




wild flowers


7 days ago

This was a wonderful trail. Per other recommendations we only went up the trail to see the two falls (just over a mile), making the round trip just over two. The last mile is apparently overgrown with poison oak and extremely steep with an end that doesn't compare to the rest of the trail.

First, the warning about having a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle is no joke. Aside from the gravel and bumps, we counted about 10 creek crossings of varying sizes. We were completely fine in a Wrangler, but many cars wouldn't have been able to make it.

We did this hike in October during a slight drizzle and it was beautiful. There were actually fall colors and water in the creek (not enough water for the falls thou). However the wonderful fall feeling as you descend into this canyon is otherworldly for Cali.

Be careful of the newts (or salamanders - we weren't sure which they were) because they were everywhere and we almost stepped on a few! Oh and we wished we had hiking poles. There were a couple of points where we had to hike across streams - the rocks were slippery and poles would've helped.

I imagine most people will do this trail in spring when the water will be highest, but honestly I loved fall here more. Plus the added benefit was that we only saw 2 other groups total.

4 months ago

went today with my friends it was a great little hike. The waterfall wasnt falling like I thought it would be it was trickling. overall had a fun morning and would go back. Beware of the overgrown Poisson oak near the big waterfall and the road to get to the trailhead cuts through the river so trucks or 4x4 recommended no standard cars or you might have trouble going through the water.

4 months ago

Beautiful area. It's a fairly easy walk in most areas we took our 21/2 and 5 year old. Some areas there were high cliff areas so adult needed to hold their hands other than that they did well.

Caution on the poison oak.

1 year ago

Beautiful and serene hike, but let's be honest, half the fun was getting there. On the drive in, passed by wild turkey and deer. Definitely glad I had a high clearance vehicle for the water crossings. Will definitely be back!

1 year ago

Big Falls Trail is a lovely hike in a wooded canyon in the Santa Lucia Wilderness area. The hardest part of the hike is the drive to the trailhead, as the last few miles of Upper Lopez Canyon Road are on a narrow dirt road that crosses back and forth across Lopez Creek about a dozen times. You will definitely need a high clearance vehicle to reach the trailhead, although 4WD is normally not required.

The trail itself leads up-canyon to two waterfalls: Lower Big Falls and Upper Big Falls. When I visited the area in late May, the lower falls were still flowing, but Upper Big Falls were not. The trail is clear up to the upper falls, although there is a tremendous amount of poison oak along both sides of the trail in most places. Be sure to look for the abundant salamanders and pond turtles in the pools below the waterfalls.

It's possible to continue further up the trail to eventually reach Hi Mountain Lookout Road, but this section of the trail is rumored to be heavily overgrown with poison oak and other brush.

1 year ago