Santa Paula Canyon and Punch Bowls Trail [CLOSED]

MODERATE 230 reviews
#1 of 163 trails in

Santa Paula Canyon and Punch Bowls Trail [CLOSED] is a 6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Santa Paula, 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
6.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
744 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

camping

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

washed out

closed

Although there are several trails in Santa Paula Canyon, the most popular is the Punch Bowls hike. Beginning at St. Thomas Aquinas college, one may travel along creekbeds and across streams surrounded by inspiring forested mountain facades to several waterfalls, rock slides, and swimming holes. Santa Paula Canyon is one of the best hikes in Ventura County. The trail takes you through picturesque St. Thomas Aquinas College, then along the shady banks of Santa Paula creek with plentiful swimming holes, capped by a spectacular 25 foot waterfall just past Big Cone Camp.

hiking
21 hours ago

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.

1 month ago

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.

2 months ago

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.

2 months ago

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.

2 months ago

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...

hiking
4 months ago

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.

hiking
4 months ago

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.

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike, lots of scenery, nice creek, a few small waterfalls, jumped in one of the punch bowls. Trail is not entirely obvious if you’re a new hiker. Overall would go again. Bring water

hiking
6 months ago

Great trail, challenging enough. The second punch bowl is even more impressive. When almost reaching the destination and when you get back to the stream, turn left and follow the stream until you see the falls on your right. To see the second punch bowl, climb up the canyon from the right side of the falls. Enjoy the view!

hiking
7 months ago

Wouldn't say it's "heavily trafficked," but you'll definitely see people here...some of the natural slides have been washed out by heavy rainfall and debris from last year. Wondering if anyone has an update on this from recent visits?

hiking
7 months ago

Parked on side on the road and walked up through college to the trail head. Trail went along the stream the whole way till you get to the bowl. Nice and easy hike. Not many views other than looking at the waterfall at the end where the bowl is. Lots of shade the whole time. The water level was only about 5' at the bowl so no jumping in, other than that the water was nice and cool.

7 months ago

Went with my best friend today, and I didn’t expect it to take quite so long to get to the punchbowls, but it was well worth the wait! We were a bit lost on the trail a handful of times as it disappears over boulders and the stream, but if you just follow the stream up, you’ll eventually get there. We also ran into a medium rattlesnake and 2 smaller garden snakes. I would bring bug spray if you can (lots of annoying gnats during this time of year), and drink a lot of water.

7 months ago

I liked the variation on this trail: college campus, some oil rigs, avocado trees, canyon views, and some punch bowls and waterfalls at the end. An out and back that's interesting enough that it doesn't matter you're walking the same path back.

I was really disappointed that me and my dog could not make it to the punch bowls. The further you went the more rocks you had to climb, which was almost impossible with my dog. I especially wanted to go on this hike because it says ok for dogs. However, in my opinion it is not unless you don't mind making it all the way. Please ensure if you check a hole as ok for dogs that it doesn't Include climbing rocks and carrying the dog to the. Find out the way gets more and more difficult and you need to have both hands free to make it, therefore carrying him wasn't even an option....

hiking
7 months ago

So good! A little bit of "rock climbing" and loose gravel on steep climbs make this a moderate hike. Try to time your arrival at the punch bowl with the sun. It was cold when we went.

8 months ago

If you go up to the second punch bowl, 1 person on the guide rope at a time!

8 months ago

easy. kids can do it. worth the cool down at the first bowl.

8 months ago

Not so easy for pretty awesome.

8 months ago

Amazing hike if you're going during the hot season, take lots of water!! Little bit of everything on this hike, there was open areas in straight sun, then you get into the creek area with shade and its much cooler, after you get to the first punchbowl, you can climb up and around to the top punchbowl and the view is amazing!! I'll def come back *please pick up your trash/pick up trash if you see it

hiking
8 months ago

One of the best hikes I have done lately. The only park that kinda sucked was waking up the road to access the trailhead. The hike is solidly moderate but nothing too crazy. We took our 2 year old gold retriever/German shepherd and he made it all the way to the water fall and punch bowl. Best part of this hike is the punch bowl. There is a rope to climb up and jump off ledge. Make sure to bring plenty of water as it can get hot when not shaded. We picked up about a dozen plastic bottles so make sure to take your trash with you and maybe pick up a little something extra along the way.

hiking
8 months ago

Excelente lugar para pasar un buen rato 9 millas asta la última posa nada mal

hiking
8 months ago

Did 6 miles today, the shade was at a minimum to and from the stream areas. Lots of rocks to traverse but a good hike! Park across the roadway from the college and walk in following the paved road to the right for a little over a mile. There are some arrows to guide you along the hike

hiking
8 months ago

Definitely worth the hike. It can be difficult at times but the scenery and water sound make it so peaceful! Follow rocks with spray paint on them and you won't get lost. Take into consideration that there are many rocks you will walk on and that you will also be crossing over water. There is still a good amount of water flowing. At the end you are able to swim and cliff jump. Water is about 8ft deep. One of my favorite hikes so far!

8 months ago

Experienced this hike on Tuesday, and boy this was one of the most fun hikes I've ever done. The natural running water sounds, the light, the shade from the trees were all beautiful. It's not that hard to get lost, there's marking and arrows and pink, blue and white ribbons around to help you get by, some of the rocks even have green stickers which came through when I thought I was going to wrong way! I only made made it to the first punchbowl, swam inside for about 30 minutes and went back. Definitely going back for the other ones. Enjoy and pack fruits that are made up of water like watermelons, pineapples, a hydration pack that hold two liter of water and a walking stick, worth it.

hiking
9 months ago

This was one of my favorite hikes I've done so far! This swimming hole at the end of the hike was crisp and refreshing. There's an actual (easy) trail to follow alongside the stream, but we decided to go the more difficult way of things and climb up the rocks/across the water and it definitely made it more interesting. A tricky beautiful spot to hike

hiking
9 months ago

The punchbowls themselves are gorgeous. Cold, clear water. So beautiful. Had a lovely swim.

However, why do so many people that clearly don't respect nature end up on this trail? There is so much trash and graffiti it is disturbing and disgusting. I don't get it and it made me incredibly angry and sad.

But on the plus side, the natural beauty is wonderful. My husband and I started the hike really early and had the first punchbowl all to ourselves. On the way back we passed 50+ people so if you like solitude, go early.

hiking
9 months ago

takes approximately 2 hours to get to the punchbowls! so worth it once you get there. clear blue water to swim in. only downside is the trash people leave behind, it's disturbing! I even saw a pad! lol....yuck! pick up your trash people, it's such a beautiful spot to just destroy. and I guess the graffiti as well, I'm all for it! I write myself....but cmon people, not on nature!

hiking
9 months ago

very rocky hike can be difficult for smaller kids, it's a very good outdoors adventure with lots of forest like scenery. good thing about this hike it had markers and painted arrows on rocks that helps guide you into the right direction...can write way more about the hike but just get out and do it the water bowl is well worth it at the end...have fun...live life...and make a splash!!!!!.....

9 months ago

The end is totally worth it. We only hiked to the first bowl and it wasn't easy. The path is marked with green paint/spray near the beginning and sort of dissipates once you're closer to the bowl. Just pay attention to any markings such as ribbons and spray paint...that will get you there. Use common sense, that always helps.

On the way back, the trail is nicely marked with white and pink "X" so pay close attention to those. You may be able to take the trail closer to the water which I think is marked with white ribbon (the kind people decorate parties with).

Out and back was four miles. If you don't want to park on the street and don't feel like walking the 1-1.5 miles before the actual trail, consider having someone drop you off at the ranch behind the college if possible. It's hot during midday so bring lots of water and food/snacks that will keep your energy up!

hiking
9 months ago

Not a hiker so it seemed a bit difficult and long. There are definitely two ways of getting there we were told to stay to the left which we climbed boulders for about an hour

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