Chiquito Trail to Chiquito Falls

MODERATE 206 reviews
#6 of 121 trails in

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.

DISTANCE
9.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,571 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

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.

hiking
1 month 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)

hiking
2 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.

3 months ago

Average

hiking
3 months ago

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

3 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

5 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...

5 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.

6 months ago

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.

hiking
6 months ago

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

7 months ago

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.

hiking
8 months ago

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.

hiking
8 months ago

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.

hiking
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.

hiking
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.

hiking
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!

hiking
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.

hiking
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.

hiking
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.

hiking
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

hiking
Monday, March 13, 2017

hiking
Monday, March 13, 2017

Nice hike. Just opposite the Candy Store and Bear Canyon/ Sitton Peak hike. Cross the stream two times and then up to the falls. Can get hot in late spring and summer so go early. Parking lot also fills up pretty quick. The rangers were out writing tickets, first time I have seen this. The Candy Store sells Pass on occasion but more often then not doesn't have them so make sure you get one before arriving. Better off just getting the American the Beautiful annual pass for $80.00 for the US National Park Service that let's you in all national parks and you can even use the express lanes!

hiking
Friday, February 10, 2017

Awesome, long hike. Definitely go swimming naked in the waterfall, definitely run along the trail on the way down, and definitely get chocolate at the shop on the way out.

hiking
Thursday, February 02, 2017

With as much rain as we've had the trail is very confusing. You have to cross the water a couple times to get back on trail. Very beautiful!

hiking
Thursday, November 24, 2016

Great trail for a fall hike. It rained the the night before and the morning of our hike till about 10:00am. Landscape and views were beautiful. No water flowing in the falls as it's too early in the season. I highly recommend this one for fall, winter, and early spring. It's a little exposed for the summer heat of Southern California. Enjoy!

trail running
Monday, November 14, 2016

Completed 11-12-16- 7 miles out and back. Temps were moderate in 80'. Much better than a month ago! Started at 2 pm ish. A trail race was happening at the same time in this trail so it was busy. The trail descends if u start clockwise by the restroom - then meanders around. At "T" stay left to follow sign for Chiquito trail and not San Juan. The climb up is technical and a grind if you are jogging but great views. The trail downhill is rocky - I went passed the Falls another mile or so. The waterfall was bone dry and nothing to see. The trail past the turnoff for the falls enters an area where grasses are very tall and is buggy. I didn't like this part and prefer to be up. However it's still nice and shaded.

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