Santa Paula Canyon and Punch Bowls Trail

MODERATE 212 reviews
#1 of 2 trails in

Santa Paula Canyon and Punch Bowls Trail 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

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

walking

horseback riding

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

washed out

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
19 days 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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.

1 month 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.

2 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
2 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.

2 months ago

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

3 months ago

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

3 months ago

Not so easy for pretty awesome.

3 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
3 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
3 months ago

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

hiking
3 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
3 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!

3 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
3 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
3 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
3 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!

Load More