Santa Paula Canyon and Punch Bowls Trail

MODERATE 58 reviews
#1 of 3 trails in

Santa Paula Canyon and Punch Bowls Trail is a 6.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Santa Paula, CA that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

6.7 miles 1197 feet Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

camping

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

walking

horseback riding

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

washed out

Although there are several trails in Santa Paula Canyon, the most popular is the Punch Bowls hike. Beginning at St. Thomas Aquinas college, one may travel along creekbeds and across streams surrounded by inspiring forested mountain facades to several waterfalls, rock slides, and swimming holes. Santa Paula Canyon is one of the best hikes in Ventura County. The trail takes you through picturesque St. Thomas Aquinas College, then along the shady banks of Santa Paula creek with plentiful swimming holes, capped by a spectacular 25 foot waterfall just past Big Cone Camp.

9 days ago

can be a little sketchy in some places, but lots of little guidance arrows to help you along the way. gets increasingly more challenging towards the end, you'll need all fours at a few points.

1 month ago

Fun trail. We saw a fox and a number of birds. Following the path was rather difficult-we took a much longer route in than we did out. Since we started in the afternoon, we didn't have time to get all the way to the punch bowls, which was disappointing. All together, we did about 14 miles in 4 hours.

There weren't many others on the trail-we saw two groups returning on our way in. The graffiti was reassuring for us first-timers because it is a long and confusing trail. We ended up bouldering at one point when we lost the main trail. All in all, we want to do it again and get all the way to the end.

hiking
2 months ago

Loved it !!

hiking
3 months ago

It was beautiful!!

3 months ago

Soooo much graffiti and trash

3 months ago

Fantastic trail, if you don't like it... Wel you probably suck at hiking. Not for anyone who can't find an easy trail or dislike a little trash. Great swimming, there some cool dogs along the way. Don't listen to those complaining, amazing, coming of age hike

hiking
3 months ago

Yuck!

This is my least favorite hike so far. I could over look the limited parking and hike through oil wells, but not the graffiti-covered rocks, loud people, trash -- cigarette butts, water bottles, beer cans, used TP, dirty underwear hanging in trees (really! At least 3 pair along the way).

Could have been a nice one due to the shade, creek and falls.

You can have it; I won't be back.

hiking
4 months ago

Was a good hike. It is actually about 13 miles in and out if you go to the very top to the last punch bowl. Bring water and comfortable shoes. It's a long hike if you're a first timer and especially if you stay and swim for a while.

hiking
4 months ago

This was my first hike in years unfortunately I didn't make it to the punch bowls and got lost, someone needs to mark the trail better there was red X marks and blue spray paint saying "go back" with an arrow but overall it is a good trail with lots to see

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike, lots of climbing and getting feet wet . Make sure to take lots of water and a snack. It was my 1st time there and let's just say we were there for quite a while because we kept adventuring off trail . Great views and fun to be able to get in the water.

hiking
5 months ago

5 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

It was fun and was shady most of the way. It was cool and had a nice breeze. Loved the waterfall at the end along with steams most of the was there.

6 months ago

Gorgeous journey, you follow the creek a lot of the way and there are lots of markings to keep you on track. There must be a shorter way to the "punchbowl" because we saw local families carrying big coolers down a hill less than a mile out. The waterfall would have been prettier with less graffiti.

hiking
6 months ago

Trail starts behind Thomas Aquinas College. Go through gate and take road up/around the right, through field past oil rigs. There will be signs. The trail itself is challenging in that there are many boulders to climb and bushes/trees to shuffle through. It adds more work but more adventure. It's totally worth the trek out to see the waterfall, which actually has water! would give it more stars except there is entirely too much graffiti. I'm sure the people spraying the rocks think their "art" is great, but it detracts from the natural beauty, which is why most of us like to hike.
TIP: being that the trail is less maintained, make sure to check for ticks when you are done!

hiking
6 months ago

I wonder if anyone else has had trouble with the two dogs just inside the open gate of the Avocado farm? they literally came out into the road with their fangs bared, hair standing up on their backs, chasing me down the road. It was frightening...

hiking
6 months ago

The most physical part of this hike was the walk in and out of the road to get to the trail. Trail itself wasn't strenuous, but was a lot of fun with plenty of opportunity to cross the creek, do some bouldering, cross some screes. Got to the water fall, then did some scrambling up to the right of it using roots as ropes to get to the trail above the falls (vertigo look down over) that leads up to the punch bowls. Left early so was mostly to myself. It's a shame how much graffiti is all the way up. Maybe one day, like petroglyphs, people will hike with wonder looking at how the ancients of the 20th and 21st centuries told the tales of their lives with spray paint... Nice hike otherwise.

6 months ago

What a great hike with a awesome final destination at the waterfall. I measured the distance just over 8 miles from the parking lot on Highway 150. Once you reach the creek you will pretty much have it to your right side all the way up with an occasional cross. The trail at times becomes a bit difficult to find but just keep your eyes open for the red/pink arrows/dots on the rocks or trees. The last 1/2 mile prepare to climb up and over large rocks to make your way to the waterfall. Please leave your spray paint can behind as enough people have chose to graffiti this pristine area.

6 months ago

What a good hike up to the "pinch bowl"

hiking
7 months ago

Really beautiful. Took our 3year old and 3 month old daughters with us so it was harder then it would have been for myself and my husband. We had a lot of fun though. It's kid do able but I'd probably say not kid friendly. But swimming at the waterfall was such a beautiful experience and our 3 year old was stoked on the whole trip. We had a lot of fun. Just follow the markers and stick close to the river and you will get there.