Big Falls Trail is a 7.1 kilometer moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Arroyo Grande, California that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 7.1 km Elevation Gain: 343 m Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

views

waterfall

wild flowers

rocky

hiking
bugs
24 days ago

This place is very family friendly with plenty of nature to see. Definitely do not wear any perfumes or sweet body sense around spring because it attracts many bugs. The river is beautiful during the spring and about 15 river Crossing so you must Ride in a lifted vehicle, SUV, and or 4 x 4.

hiking
1 month ago

We did the whole loop. It ended up being about 16 miles. We started at Rinconada Trailhead, down Little Falls trail and back up Big Falls. Little Falls was overgrown with loads of poison oak. I wouldn’t do this leg of the loop again. Some pros, but not enough. The salamanders in the creek were very fun to see! The falls were, well, small. I did love hiking through the lovely oaks and flowers near the Little Falls Trailhead. Big Falls is a better maintained, has more traffic and is beautiful. There are several waterfalls and swimming holes. Highly recommend!

hiking
over grown
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

Big Falls: what a trek & A+ adventure with LOTS of poison oak ... but many waterfalls (50ft+), watering holes & amazing nature (including salamanders — the California Newt). It’s 11 miles in back of Lake Lopez & it took 50 mins to get to the trailhead. W/4wd (a must) we crossed 6 dry crossings & 16 river crossings total. I didn’t realize Little Falls & Big Falls a 2 different trailheads (oops) - btw for future reference there are around 7-9 river crossing between little falls & big falls ... Once you get to Big Falls trailhead, the 4.4 mile hike to the Big waterfall & back is relatively easy/a little steep/some on side of cliff. Wear long clothes, bring water shoes (trail crossed river 10+ times) and hiking shoes.

hiking
1 month ago

I hiked down to Big Falls from Hi Mtn Road connecting from Rinconada Trail. It’s 11.5 miles if you do it that way but you don’t need a high clearance vehicle to access the Big Falls Trail if you hike in from the north end of the trail. If you use Rinconada to Big Falls the total climb for the round trip is about 2500ft. About 6 miles of the hike on Hi Mtn Road has great views of the Santa Lucia Wilderness and is relatively flat. I hiked at the beginning of April and there was plenty of water over the upper falls. I didn’t go all the way to the lower falls. Def need long pants as there’s plenty of Poison Oak in the shady areas.

hiking
3 months ago

Big Falls in Santa Lucia. It is about 50 minutes away from Avila beach. On the way driving into the park I was able to see Lopez lake. ( very pretty). Mountain, mountains so manny of them makes me remember KCNT. Sharing road but not many car so no need to worried about it. ( enjoying epic panoramic view of the mountains). Need 4 WD to just get to the trailhead. ( 12 rivers to driving cross). Very adventure,fun, loved, and scared. ( but I won’t do it again). Easy hike. ( Back and forth many times to the creek was fun). Seeing few waterfalls, short, medium, and tall, a lot of water flowing on the falls. ( they made my ears, eyes, and my heart, didn’t want to go home). Mountains, rocks, redwood trees, swimming holes, jumping cliff, bugs, poison oak/ ivy,snake, salamanders. ( you name it, this park has them all waiting for you). Loved this park a lot. ( so soooo peaceful and adventure). Enjoy your hike but I won’t come back.

hiking
bugs
over grown
rocky
6 months ago

fun hike, flies still out, water in few cool swim jump spots, ropes get you access to some hard to reach spots...not very many people out the water was cold but still jumped in. no water at the end of trail and lots poison oak out there..water in 10 of the water crossings...be careful of residents on the road not friendly at all..no cell reception

hiking
9 months ago

This is a hike that will make memories to last a lifetime. Took my dad for Father’s Day 2019. Water was brisk, but swimmable. Approx 15 creek crossings in your vehicle - high clearance recommended. 4WD not necessary. Go early as parking area gets crowded and it’s pretty small. Hike is easy to the falls with a couple of creek crossings. Upper swimming hole is easy to see how to access, lower one is trickier and is not easily accessed by dogs or people unable to do minor scaling of rocks. To get to lower swimming hole, switch to east side of the creek at the second crossing, but stay close to the creek. A trail will take you to a rocky slope that you have to scramble/rock climb across (ropes not necessary). There are a few cliff jumping ledges into the lower pool- be careful as it can be dangerous and we know people who have been seriously injured. It was pristine when we visited, but have heard bummer stories of people leaving trash and cans/bottles... please pack it out if you go.

bugs
over grown
9 months ago

Didn’t make it all the way this time, lost sight of the trail and turned around

hiking
9 months ago

The road out to the trailhead has a lot of flooded areas (around 10-12) that require AWD higher suspension vehicle depending on water level. This is by no means a hard hike. It took me and my partner about 3 hours to complete at a very relaxed pace.

hiking
bugs
over grown
Fri Apr 26 2019

Hiked it with my daughter from the Rinconada side. One of the hardest hikes I've ever done. Pretty close to 11 miles with lots of elevation changes. Started at 10am, got to the falls about 1:30pm, hung out about 2hrs, back to the car at 7pm. Amazing views and solitude, never saw another soul until we got to the falls. Most people go the easy way from upper Lopez Rd. but we were looking for a challenge. And we found it. Super fun adventure that allows you to see California in its purest form. We'll do it again as soon as the soreness wears off. Massive amounts of poison oak and a good number of ticks and snakes as well. Enjoy

hiking
Sun Apr 21 2019

great day hike! bring swim gear

hiking
Sat Apr 20 2019

This is an awesome hike! Best waterfall around! I was worried about getting through the 14 creek crossings but we made it easy without a 4x4. I have a Toyota Tacoma and it made it with no problem! Now our shoes did get wet when crossing the cross beds during the hike. My kids did the hike 3 years ago when they were 5 years old and 8 years old but I think little ones would have a harder time. I enjoyed the hike this year as well! There were lots of salamanders and some steep areas but a moderate hike for sure!

Mon Apr 08 2019

one of our best adventures yet! watch out for ticks and poison oak...need 4×4 to cross creek in various spots during spring!

ohv/off road driving
Sat Mar 16 2019

Went last week and the river full. There was a sign indicating caution. Waiting for some locals to come by. They didn’t recommend me to cross the river in my Subaru Outback. First a raised Toyota went through. That didn’t really help to determine if I could make it. Then an SUV went through and that gave me confidence to go ahead. At one point water was going over my hood, but we made all 15 crossings without issue. There was even a waterfall at the parking lot of big falls trail. The way back was easier since we were going with the river.

hiking
Tue Nov 06 2018

The hike has a total of 14 river crossing to just get to the trail head. We took a non 4 wheel drive vehicle and made it. You do have to take the river crossing super slow otherwise the water will splash on the battery and you’ll have to wait to let it dry before your car will start (Found out the hard way). We only hiked to the big falls and then turned around. GPS was a little off and it is closer to 3.6 miles for the entire hike. This time of year the hike had no water from the falls but the river had a little bit of water. Overall great hike if you’re willing to drive through the crossings.

hiking
Fri May 25 2018

4x4 not require to access trail, but high vehicle clearance is definitely needed. In the Summer, you won't see much water, but any other time of year, the streams will be really bad. 2 weeks after a storm there were about 12 streams we crossed on the drive. Poison oak is rampant out there, as well, so be forewarned. However, the hike is fun. Far out, secluded, and has a nice payoff in the form of a rocky waterfall area where you can sit around.

hiking
Tue May 15 2018

Not bad of a hike, but a pretty view on the drive up. 4x4 not necessary but would recommend having a high clearance vehicle. Trail head very easy to find and clear trail. Started hike at 7am and saw 50+ salamanders on the trail. About 100ft from the waterfall, not very visible until you head back, is a trail that leads you to the top of the waterfall. Long pants/ sleeves recommended because there is a lot of poison oak/ivy that crosses into the trail. There’s a few water pools along the way that you could swim/wade in.

hiking
Mon Apr 30 2018

Trail requires 4x4 and high water clearance. During rainy season or after a decent rain storm you cross about five streams. Once at the trail head hike is somewhat easy although some moderate climbs to get to the falls. Lots of poison oak along the trail. Wear long pants and use Technu after the hike to make sure you don’t get poison oak.

Thu Mar 01 2018

Easy hike, very secluded. Pretty falls!

Tue Jan 30 2018

Drove through rivers to get to trailhead. No waterfall at end, was super disappointed.

hiking
Fri Jan 19 2018

Trail was clear and passable up to the falls (did not go further). Lots of water in the river crossings on the road to the trailhead. Recommend high clearance vehicle.

hiking
Thu Sep 21 2017

Me and my 8 year old daughter hiked this last year. Definitely need to go back in spring when there is more water. We still swam with the Nox Turtles and Salamanders. Scenic trail, but watch out for Poison Oak.

Tue Jul 04 2017

Solid trail. Falls stops falling by July. Even in a very wet year. Still plenty of swimming holes and cliff jump options along the way

hiking
Mon Jun 26 2017

Well I attempted to do the hike but I wasn't feeling comfortable in my little 94 toyota pickup ( with rear wheel drive) crossing all the creeks. as of a few days ago the deepest crossing that I encountered was 1 ft deep and about 30 ft long. I'll attempt the hike again in a month or so, hoping the creeks dry up just a tad. And ill attempt to put weight in the back of my truck so i can handle better in the creeks. Definitely would recommend a 4x4 or if not experience crossing creeks

Showing results 1 - 24 of 54