Explore the most popular waterfall trails in Los Padres National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
18 hours ago

Awesome little trail. Beautiful wildflowers all along the way. The falls were pretty but there was not much water flowing.

you went up today May 24th 2018 I was unaware that the trail was closed we did see a security guard on the way up and down he did not say anything. The trail is intact although if you aren't very familiar easy to go off of Trail. there was hardly any traffic on the trail probably due to the fact that it's States it's closed. There are many wildflowers that are blooming still a great hike.

hiking
5 days ago

Great walk even if you take the short walk. Green and cool in April and May.

this is a must see hike, it is relatively short to the waterfall and has beautiful views. the waterfall changes personalities through the seasons. it ices over during the winter and has some spectacular icicles.

Fun trail but my girlfriend who isn’t a very experienced hiker had trouble at some of the steeper narrower parts.

Trail has a moderate climb and is very rocky. Beautiful natural landscape and creek views.

Easy hike and family friendly. Like the cave!

backpacking
1 month ago

Backpacked from Rinconada trail to 101 E Cuesta Grade. Camped 1 night on Big Falls Trail, second night at Sulphur Pots. Super cool area, lots of water (dried up just above Upper Lopez Camp), just SO MUCH poison oak. Definite evidence of a trail, but hours walking through with PO all around the trail.

hiking
1 month ago

It was my first time hiking in the Santa Barbara area and I really liked this hike. I think it could have been a 5 star hike if I had hiked it on a clear day.

Parking- we easily found parking along the side of the road on the right side near the trailhead...which is on the left side of the road

Trail- the sign at the start states that the trail is 4.2 miles with 641 ft of elevation gain...not sure what that is based on, but if you are like me and wish to take this trail to Inspiration Point and back it was 7.1 miles for me with an elevation gain of 1,600 ft...so quite a bit of difference there; the trail is easy to follow and the first 1.5 goes north and sticks close to the creek and the water was running with some recent rain; the trail then leaves the trees and heads in a NE direction through a more open sort of grassland area and you will cross a road and some private property nearby and then the incline kicks in for the final mile or so with some switchbacks up to Inspiration Point...which I didn't see any signs but I had my app to verify we had made it there and there were some other hikers there already but sadly there was no view to enjoy since it was an extremely overcast and foggy morning (4/2/18) and visibility was maybe 200 yards so there was no view of the ocean or island sadly; the hike was green, with the sound of running water for most of the time, and great views of the mountains to the northeast...I just wished we could have seen the ocean...FYI dogs are allowed on this trail off leash which doesn't bother me but might bother some

*the second half of the hike we really worked up a sweat not only because it was steeper but it was very humid and there was a light mist/drizzle

Of course bring plenty of water and hiking shoes or shoes with good traction, trekking poles are not needed for this hike. Plan on this hike taking about 3-4 hours. I would rate this as moderately difficult.

Epic bucket list hike.... went out with a bang! Always wanted to do an overnight hiking trip before my big 5-0 .... trail was no easy task (for me) but with the help of my daughter it was a success..... Not so much for one of our team mates who fell about 30ft down a revine and had to be airlifted out after my daughter was able to rescue her enough to get her back on the trail. Hats off #calfire #chp and the medical team.
I will definitely be back.

Came back to see the Punch Bowls. We were unaware of a sign saying it was closed, but we were allowed in. Lots of groups and families were out on the trail. It was sad to see all the damages the Thomas Fire left on and in the surrounding areas of the Punch Bowls. Despite that the Punch Bowls was still there alive and beautiful as before. A lot of scrambling on the hike due to the fire. If you’re familiar with the trail then it shouldn’t be difficult to get to the falls. The green arrows on the rocks should lead you there. Otherwise, you can follow the creek.

hiking
1 month ago

I went on a very misty/foggy day so the views at the top of Inspiration point weren't that great, but the journey there and back made up for it! Lots of ravines, boulders, wooded streams, and then the winding turns making your way up the mountain made for a great walk. The last mile or two have very little shade so bring sun protection and plenty of water.

hiking
1 month ago

This is a great hike if you're looking for a moderately difficult hike, nothing fancy. Parts of it are challenging enough to make you sweat, it's easy to follow, and there's a rewarding view at the top. We hiked it midday on a Friday and the trail wasn't too busy. It's very well marked. The creeks were flowing and the foliage was lush, but this is early April so I expect it will be dry as a bone later in the summer. Speaking of foliage, there's a ton of poison oak so keep an eye out if you have little ones. My 4 little guys (ages 4-9) hiked it no problem, tho we had to constantly remind them to avoid the poison oak. Parking was really easy too, just along the road opposite the filtration plant. I'd recommend starting early and packing plenty of water.

hiking
1 month ago

I’ve loved this trail for years. It is enough of a challenge to make you feel like you accomplished something. I love the pace of it and the carried terrain. If it has rained you might find some mud, but the creek will be flowing and provide amazing acoustics for your hike. I love to do this with friends and even the preteens like this one! Highly recommend, and start at the water treatment if you want to cut it to 6.6 miles and about 1500’ of elevation.

Great place. Easy quick hike. Waterfall was roarin after the rains. Tied a line to a tree across falls at the top n zip lined to the middle. Epic view. Can also climb on the top of the boulder in middle of water. There's a lil cave under that rock as well.

We arrived March 24, 2018 after several days of heavy rain. The security guard was turning people away as the trail was closed. No idea when they will reopen.

hiking
2 months ago

kool hike friendly vibe easy access to parking✌

I couldn’t find anywhere about the condition of this hike after the fire. So I went and checked it out. Same easy access to it gate is open and no one stopped us from going in and also no posted “area closed” signs. For the most part the trail along the river bed was untouched by the fire, lots of mud and rock slides Have happened though and saw a few times rocks come tumbling down while we were up there. The water is dingy and cold so we didn’t go in. The trail up the hill away from the river was also slightly washed out by mud slides and lots of fire damage that way, cool sight to see plus right now there is new green growth coming through the black and ash. I recommend it. Wear boots.

This trail is easy to find and has plenty of parking right off HWY 1. The trail starts off with the waterfall only 200 yds from the parking lot. Next, switch backs take you up 800' revealing wild flowers and rock outcroppings. About a mile into the hike, we were stopped dead in our tracks by a mountain lion. Luckily it wasn't looking for dinner or a fight, and just warned us with a pronounced growl. We took a hint and turned around. I am looking forward to going back to complete the hike without interruption.

Great hike for day hikers and overnight hikers. Plenty of water there, easy drive from SLO

backpacking
3 months ago

Started at the Big Falls trailhead, I got there in my 2 wheel drive GMC truck, You have to drive through about 8 or 9 streams to get to the trailhead. so high clearance or 4 wheel drive vehicle works well. At the trailhead, a KIA Sorento and Ford Explorer made it. so maybe I'm just being cautious.
The trail is excellent. The creek was flowing great and the multiple crossings reminded me that I should have brought extra socks. However; about 3.5 miles up the canyon. the trail was totally overgrown. We were probably 20 minutes out from the camp. but didn't have any brush clearing tools. We turned back and crossed the creek another 10 times or so and went back to SLO for dinner.

Very sad to hear that this trail has been destroyed by the Thomas fire. This was one of the best hikes I've ever found. I hope that it will be restored within my lifetime so I can go hike this majestic trail again...

Closed due to the mud slides

hiking
3 months ago

This is a great long hike. Especially nice that dogs can be off leash. Winds through nice forest and cool scenery before making it to the top of inspiration point. Parking access is definitely easier than the inspiration point hike.

Went to morro view via the mariposa trail. It was 4.6 miles and on a clear day the morro outlook is pretty nice. Pretty well maintained trail. Very few people and a few mountain bikers

This was an amazing trail! Lots of different scenery and wild flowers are starting to bloom. However, be aware of poison oak too. We combined it with the Salmon Creek Waterfall trail. Went to the main waterfall first, which was beautiful! We then came back around to start this trail. The first .5 miles are a steady incline that’s a little strenuous, but the remaining parts of the trail to Estrella Camp are mostly a combo of level ground, some downhill, and couple more short uphill climbs. Many parts of this trail are on a narrow pathway/ledge when you get higher up, so watch your footing. At this time there is still the remnants of a large pine tree that fell directly on the main path right before getting to the Spruce Creek Camp. You will have to step through and over a wall of fallen branches and then climb over the large trunk. On the way to Estrella Camp from Spruce Camp, you are parallel to Salmon Creek and can hear the sound of flowing water. Very soothing. We also caught a glimpse of another waterfall through the trees. On the way back the views of the forest and ocean are great! Especially if you’re heading back down around sunset. Overall the hike for us ended up being more like 6.5 miles round trip. We did not camp overnight.

Beautiful waterfall! There is also a cave near it. Some large rocks that you have to climb around to get near the base of the fall, but overall an easy walk to get to. Only reason why I’m giving it 4 stars is because it’s too short to be considered a full hiking experience.

walking
4 months ago

Really great time, went in the winter with my boyfriend. Sweet little waterfall which I’m sure gets bigger with the late spring time weather.

They only just lifted the restrictions in the non burn areas of the Los Padres, it's going to be a good time before they start allowing people back into the burned trails. Press release announced the fire was officially 100% contained, but all burn areas are still closed as they attempt to clean up. You can always call your local forest service office to inquire about trail closures prior to setting out.

Great and very extraneous hike. Waaay too much damage to the trail from the Thomas fire and landslides from last weeks rain causing a lot of the trail to be hidden under all the mud and fallen trees.

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