Chiquito Trail to Chiquito Falls

MODERATE 221 reviews

Chiquito Trail to Chiquito Falls is a 9.1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Lake Elsinore, California 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.

9.1 miles
1,571 feet

dogs on leash




horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running






wild flowers




When you think of hiking in Orange County, you don't usually envision dramatic waterfalls. But during the spring, there are a number of wonderful seasonal waterfalls that are just a hike away. One of the best is Chiquito Falls. This trail requires an adventure pass.

10 days ago

We started hiking at 10am and 59 degrees outside. Perfect weather for this hike. We loved the back and forth along the trail of shade to no shade. It took my sister and I 4 hours to complete the hike to the falls and back to the parking lot. Even though it rained 3 days ago there was no flowing water in the falls. There was only a trickle coming down the face. The trail was damp, but not muddy. Be warned, due to the government shut down the trailhead bathrooms are closed. But the good thing is you don’t need an Adventure Pass to park at the trailhead due to the government shutdown.

1 month ago

Good hike, but do it early in the day if it’s going to be hot. You are exposed most of the day.

1 month ago

This was a nice, quiet trail. Ends up being a pretty good workout if you keep a good pace.

1 month ago

No water in the falls two days after the rain. The dry ground sucked it all up. 

5 months ago

Awesome trail. Gorgeous views.

7 months ago

Breathtaking views all around most of the way. The spot where the waterfalls would be was completely dry again though on the May 12th weekend.

Took about 3.5 hours to get up there with okay pace and some quick photo stops. 2.15 return. (So, definitely longer than 4 hr round trip as some people have commented)

8 months ago

Trail starts in parking lot across the street from the candy store. A little over 11 miles from parking to falls and back, 9.1 miles as stated on app is incorrect. Falls are not impressive but it’s a nice hike to get there nonetheless. A good 4 hours round trip, take lots of water, sunscreen and a hat. Wear good trail shoes, parts of the trail are dry with loose pebbles/rocks easy to slip in the wrong shoes. Lots of pretty wild flowers along the way.

9 months ago


9 months ago

Nice trail, no water at the waterfall yet. But saw a beautiful big rattlesnake right next to the trail.

9 months ago

Had a nice hike through this area. Meant to go to another trail but this one was great for us. I would say this one is moderate. Beautiful cool day. No water at the falls but we were able to enjoy a nice lunch while we were there

11 months ago

First of all the trail head is NOT by the candy store it is right where you park ..I wouldn’t call it moderate but strenuously moderate.. 9.3 miles to the “falls” ( no water). Lots of ticks..beware and check your dogs. We had fun...

11 months ago

Only did the loop, but didn't see another soul on a Friday afternoon. The leg of the trail to San Juan Falls should be called the Heavy Doodie Trail since it is littered with dog poo around every bend. For the love of hiking.. PLEASE pick up after your dog and carry out what you bag.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Nice trail for a winter hike but it was quite warm today, about 78. Left at 7:30 when it was cool, finished by 12:30 and it was quite hot. Brought the dogs and found lots of TICKS on them - maybe from the recent rain? I would not have expected ticks this time of year. No water in the falls but a few puddles down stream from the rain.

Friday, January 12, 2018

It was a great day with a great hike. But no water was flowing

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Definitely go when the weather is clear and cool. I imagine this trail would be great with more water in the stream beds. I only saw 1 person on the trail.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

We hiked this in October knowing the terrain would be hot and dry, but wanted a conditioning trail close to home. Knowing that, it was a good hike with both oak woodlands and chaparral. The falls were expectedly dry, but the rock formations were quite cool. My gps app stated 5.7 miles to reach the falls - 11.4 round trip.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Nice trail. About 9 miles RT to falls from candy sore parking lot. This time of year it gets very hot in the valleys and on hills. Lots of water or you will regret going.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Completed yesterday, nice workout. Wouldn't recommend for summer hikes, but there was still water flowing at the falls. Had my closest encounter with the biggest rattlesnake I've ever seen, not fun. Careful of the hill climb going to the falls...fairly steep in sections and not much sun protection.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Did this trail again with my cousin today, but only did the lower loop, stopping off at the San Juan Falls (2.1 miles total) instead of heading all the way to Chiquito Falls.

Once again, remember your adventure pass for the parking lot.

We started off on the San Juan Trail again (to the right of the parking lot and headed straight to the first and smaller waterfall. We tried hiking around the lookout point fence to get to the actual base of the falls, but it was fairly steep at one point and we were concerned about the dog making it, so didn't go all the way to the base. There's still some easy to reach photo op points partway down, so try anyway. Watch the rocks though, as we spotted a rather larger rattler snuggled between a couple we planned on traversing.

Since we couldn't make the base, we backtracked to the very easy side trail that takes you to the few smaller pools at the top of the falls. This was a very nice place to stop for lunch. I hear it can be crowded on the weekends, but we had it mostly to ourselves on a Thursday at 1 pm.

We then completed the simple 2.1 mile loop, which was easy, quick, and enjoyable. Once you pass the junction sign, you technically are taking the Chiquito Trail back to the parking lot, which is a slight incline the rest of the way back.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I'm a casual/slow hiker, so this hike took me all day, from 9 am to 5 pm, spending about 45 minutes at the waterfall.

First off, don't forget your adventure pass for parking.

When you start the trail, begin with the San Juan Trail to the right of the parking lot. Shortly after beginning, you will come across the San Juan Falls. I did as others suggested and checked them out from afar and then headed on to Chiquito Falls so as not to lose time. I do wish I had hiked down and stopped for a bit because the falls were empty of people on a Monday. The trail overall was lightly trafficked on the Monday I went.

Continue on through the first part of the loop until you reach the junction sign, where you need to turn right and cross the creek to head to Chiquito Falls. At this point, you travel through a nicely shaded area, so watch out for poison oak and mosquitos, but take advantage of shade while you can.

Once you pass the "tributary" as marked in yellow on the AllTrails map, the rest of the trail is virtually all climb (except for a small decline to the falls themselves). This is where things get hot, from not only the continuous incline, but from sun exposure. Don't just wear spf, but bring it with you and reapply. My day was 74 degrees, but felt in the mid-80's for this portion. Take advantage and cool down in the few shade tunnels offered by the oak trees. And beware of bees if you're sensitive. They are literally everywhere through this portion of the hike, and you cannot avoid brushing up against them and the plants they are checking out along the trail.

You'll see the falls from a distance, right before the decline in the trail. They are running great as of the date of my hike, but I hear they are usually dry in the summer. I can't imagine the summer heat helping this trail out either.

On the return hike, when you make it all the way back to the junction, keep heading right on the Chiquito Trail (or turn left and leave the way you came if you want to see the San Juan Falls again or prefer not to complete the loop). You will hear the highway unfortunately, but the trails leads along a creek and it's beautiful and green. Eventually you will come out on the opposite end of the parking lot from where you started.

There are fat lizards all over this trail, and most aren't afraid of hikers. So enjoy their funny dances and poses along the boulders. Also, as of this post, tons of blooming aloe (most of my other hikes, the aloe blooms are already dead now since they tend to bloom in the winter here).

Since I'm a newer and slower hiker, this trail maxed me out distance wise. The loss of one star was because of the sun exposure and heat issue for most of the trail. Otherwise, I really enjoyed it and might have not had so much of a heat issue had I started earlier than 9 am.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

This place is amazing!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Great hike thru San Juan loop and Choquito falls.
Beautiful drive as well! Bring snacks for the resting times. Will definitely go again. A nice bike bar is close by for a beer after. Hell's Kitchen.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The incline to get to the falls was difficult for me but totally worth it. The whole trail is beautiful. I agree with another review on here, bring more water than you think you'll need because you'll need more. You do have to cross over moving water twice, so be careful. Good hike, plan on doing it again some day.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The prettiest waterfall is on the San Juan loop, but there are a couple small waterfalls along the way and a pretty one at the end. Took us 4 hours to do the whole thing with our dog.

Monday, March 27, 2017

I have done this hike twice now, and it is not my favorite. It is definitely a workout, but is not as scenic as many other hikes. You are trapped on a narrow, rocky path the whole trip with rather uninteresting sights down into the valley. The sun bakes you, even on sub 70 degree days. I do not recommend going during summer at all. The waterfall is nice when there is water, but that also means you will need to cross the stream twice beforehand. Like I said, it is not my favorite but it is still a decent hike. Just remember to bring much more water than you expect and purchase an adventure pass from Big 5 before you go there.

Friday, March 17, 2017

I went with 5 children and it was hard for them. we went the Chiquito loop rather than SJ loop an barely made it back. it was rough terrain and hot. the water fall was beautiful.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Great hike, a bit warm in afternoon but the falls and swimming felt great.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Great hike

Monday, March 13, 2017

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