Little Falls Trail is a 5.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Arroyo Grande, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, running, and nature trips and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length5.4 miElevation gain1,578 ftRoute typeOut & back
Dogs on leashKid friendlyHikingNature tripsWalkingRunningWaterfallWildflowersBugsOver grownRocky
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This is a beautiful trail if you don't mind a lot of poison oak and have a vehicle that can survive the drive to the trailhead. The final 1.5 miles to the trailhead are on a narrow dirt road that crosses Lopez Creek eight times. There are no bridges or concrete fords, so you'll definitely need a high-clearance vehicle. 4WD isn't strictly necessary, unless the water levels in the creek are particularly high. The trail itself is almost level from the trailhead up to Little Falls, but climbs just beyond the turn-off to the falls. There is a lot of poison oak on both sides of the trail, but it's pretty easy to avoid. You'll cross Little Falls Creek once, then go across a lovely meadow and enter Santa Lucia Wilderness. There are three more creek crossings (all easy) before you leave the main trail just before the fourth crossing and take a use trail up along the left side of Little Falls Creek. There's a lovely little waterfall (about 6') less than 100 yards up this use trail. The pool at the base of this fall is deep enough for a swim. The actual Little Falls waterfall is about 50' high. This trail is best in the spring, when there's plenty of water in the creek and the waterfalls are flowing. Be sure to look for the California newts in Little Falls Creek.

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Reviews (21)
Photos (46)
Activities (10)
Completed (71)
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Jeff Harker
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Hiking

April 11, 2021 Still lots of water to drive through where it crosses the road Lots of overgrown spots on trail Lots of poison oak Plenty of ticks. Then why bother? Because: Lots of cool Calif Newts. All over first half mile of trail. Watch your step. Solitude. Only saw two people. Good display of wildflowers considering little rain And great views if you continue on Rinconada trail up to the orange rock outcrop. About a half mile beyond end of Little Falls Trail.

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Amber Stricklen
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Hiking
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Nathan M
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HikingGreat!

2/7/21 73° Trail starts of in a shaded area and eventually meets up with High Mountain Rd. where the trail is pretty exposed. This trail is super easy to follow, but slighly overgrown in places. Seed ticks were plentiful, but the poison oak is still coming out of dormancy, so not a concern. Most of the trail follows Little Falls Creek and the water flow was good, as was Little Falls. Good Views, lots of wildlife and only saw two groups on the way back. On IG @picbynathan

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Jolie Syboune
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 19, 2020
HikingBugsOver grownRocky

September 19, 2020. If you are hiking from Upper Lopez Road to the water fall; it's only 1/2 mile hike. The trail that branches off to Little Falls is block by tree limbs. We Simi crawled through it without our backpacks getting tangled. The trail is 2.6 miles from Hi Mountain Look out Road to Upper Lopez Road. The trail is dense with overgrowth of plants on some parts of the trail. The trail has lots of loose rocks. This moderate trail can be hard/difficult but manageable for some going up hill. You need a good ground clearance vehicle to cross the streams to get to Upper Lopez trail. One of this stream crossing was almost 13 inches deep. We got out of the truck and measured it. 6" lifted truck.

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The Shape of Trails
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 23, 2020
HikingBugsOver grownRocky

August 23, 2020. Fairly overgrown throughout the trail. The trail is prevalent though so no problems navigating. Fortunately, the abundance of Poison Oak is mostly just the limbs now without much growth or sticky new growth. So it is manageable especially with some trekking poles or a walking stick to move some of the plants that do encroach the path. Did this from the Rinconada Trail down to Upper Lopez Canyon Road...so not too bad. I imagine traveling up would be quite steep in areas, especially as you push to the top where it intersects with Hi Mountain Lookout Road. Once down to Lopez I trekked on to go back up Big Falls to the top. A little more user-friendly other than the added miles to get back to the Little Falls Trailhead at the top. Fortunately, it was a nice day for hiking. Cloudy, upper 70's but a bit humid....so the little biting flies were a nuisance. . ENJOY if you make the trip....

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Allison Phelps
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Hiking

We did this trail from the Santa Margarita side (starting at the Rinconada trailhead). It is overgrown and there is SO much poison oak. I wouldn’t do it again for that reason alone. The pros of the hike were all the salamanders in the creek and the flowers and oaks near the falls. So pretty!

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Chris Lanier
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Hiking

1st things 1st. To get to this trailhead I’d recommend a truck or SUV with a few inches of ground clearance. You’ll cross the creek 6 times on the way. I just parked near the end of the paved road and walked to the trailhead. It adds 3 miles to the hike if you do that. The water was just below my knees at the deepest crossing (I’m 6ft tall). I’ve added some pics for reference. The foliage was overgrown for the first 1/4 mile, but fine after that. Make sure you wear long sleeves and pants and you’ll be fine. If you don’t turn off the main trail into the creek bed in time you’ll still see the falls, you just won’t be able to access it very easily. There were plenty of wildflowers out and water over the falls (April 4th). Overall this is a cool trail and especially if you have a truck or SUV to do the creek crossings. I think kids would enjoy that aspect. I also saw a cute California Newt in the creek. :-)

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Aubrey Carr
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 23, 2020
HikingOver grown

The trail was way over grown and there was TONS of poison oak. We had a Toyota Yaris and couldn't make it to the trailhead by car so we walked across the crossing with water without shoes. To get to the waterfall, we climbed down a semi-steep hill but it was doable. we got to swim in the pool and water below and there were tons of red salamanders! the end result was so worth it

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Eric Henderson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 28, 2019
HikingOver grown

This is a quiet trail that is flat the first 25 minutes to get to the Little Falls spot. To reach the falls hike up the creek just before the trail starts going up a big hill. It’s about 40 yards up the creek once you leave the trail. Your first see a 5 foot waterfall and then see a 40 foot falls after that.

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Tami Robertson
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarApril 29, 2018
Hiking

Made it 50 feet before the trail was covered in poison oak.

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Daniela Garcia
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Hiking

beautiful trail, take mosquito repellent

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Lois McKinley
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good. but crossing the creeks killed my friends car. I know not smart!

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Frank Kehl
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Hiking

This is a really nice, beautiful trail - IF you don't mind a lot of poison oak and you have a vehicle that can survive the drive to the trailhead. The final 1.5 miles to the trailhead are on a narrow dirt road that crosses Lopez Creek eight times. There are no bridges or concrete fords, so you'll definitely need a high-clearance vehicle. 4WD isn't strictly necessary, unless the water levels in the creek are particularly high. The trail itself is almost level from the trailhead up to Little Falls, but climbs just beyond the turn-off to the falls. There is a ridiculous amount of poison oak on both sides of the trail, but when we were there the trail itself wasn't overgrown and it was pretty easy to avoid. You'll cross Little Falls Creek once, then go across a lovely meadow and enter Santa Lucia Wilderness. There are three more creek crossings (all easy) before you leave the main trail just before the fourth crossing and take a use trail up along the left side of Little Falls Creek. There's a lovely little waterfall (about 6') less than 100 yards up this use trail. The pool at the base of this fall is deep enough for a swim. Unfortunately, we didn't realize that the actual Little Falls waterfall is a little farther up the trail, so we'll be going back to check it out some time. The actual Little Falls waterfall is about 50' high. This trail is best in the spring, when there's plenty of water in the creek and the waterfalls are flowing. Be sure to look for the California newts in Little Falls Creek.

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Matthew Carey
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 21, 2015

Poison Oak Warning!!! The trail is covered in poison oak, some places it is completely overgrown. Other considerations: You need a vehicle with high clearance to get to trail head. Driving through creekbeds is required. also there were signs of lots of bear activity, so be prepared for a black bear encounter. I will not hike the trail again unless I hear its been maintenanced.

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Gregory West
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 21, 2014
Hiking

Very pretty hike crossing through streams and then coming up to open vistas at the top, but... the are huge amounts of poison oak overflowing onto the trail.

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Bill Hoyer
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Hiking

The description of the hike is VERY misleading. The hike is in a remote area with six or more stream crossings (truck country) on the road to the trail. Paved road,(upper Lopez Canyon Road) dirt road and unimproved road, from the access road, Hi mountain road. It is beautiful country and an easy hike but with several stream crossings along the way. Some moderately steep slopes.

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Michael Schmidt
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Hiking
First to Review

Aweful. I went on this brief walk. The creek was dry... the drive is not worth the walk

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Abad Barrera
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Hiking
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Abad Barrera
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Jim Davies
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Sarah Lennox
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