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

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

partially paved

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.

trail running
22 days ago

After reading the reviews I was prepared to see a lot of trash and graffiti everywhere and tons of people but I didn’t encounter much of that. People must be picking up after themselves!

hiking
1 month ago

Was excited to do this hike and it was definitely different considering the scenery and that you are right along the stream. But that being said, we didn’t make it to the punch bowl. The arrows were less clear at the end and we were with our pup and the rocks were getting bigger and it had become more dangerous than was comfortable for us. It sounds like there are multiple ways to get to the end - we tried to stick to the red line on the All Trails app Esther than the dotted line. Thinking the dotted line could have actually gotten you there and been easier than the red line, which was right along the creek. The dotted line seemed to be out in the hot sun, which some people were referencing in their reviews. We likely won’t do it again but if we did, we would go the dotted trail route. Would be cool if someone else could confirm that for others using the app!

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike! Not sure why this is rated moderate. It's definitely easy. It's flat the whole way. The trail gets a little messy sometimes and you have to go over rocks and cross the river but nothing crazy. This was absolutely lovely.

hiking
2 months ago

Loved this trail arrows are everywhere make side to make it to the back pool where there is a waterfall and rope to climb

hiking
2 months ago

I have done this trail twice! Both times it was pretty hot out so make sure you bring plenty of water with you. You can hike two main ways through santa Paula canyon, or along the water to the punch bowls. I preferred going along the water the second time because there was more shade and I enjoy an occasion splash when I get hot but that’s just me! However stunning views overlooking the canyon if you follow the main trailhead/orange and green markers! There is trash unfortunately so be a handy earth lover and bring a trash bag with you, it made me feel better cleaning up as I went. But the Punchbowl was awesome! Fun area to have a picnic and say hello to fellow travelers!

3 months ago

Super great trail a bit confusing at times really fun

hiking
3 months ago

Great place to go hike and spend time with friends and family. Highly recommended to those who love to hike and admire nature. Also great cliffs to jump off if you are into that!
!!!GO CHECK OUT MY VIDEO ON THE SANTA PAULA PUNCH BOWLS!!!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3na2KTAzXSw

hiking
3 months ago

Great Trail. A bit confusing at times. Looking for green or blue arrows to remind you your goin correct way. Apparently there are multiple ways to get to first punch bowl. Tiring but so worth the hike when you take that jump in pool. Planning to go back but explore the other bowls.

hiking
3 months ago

Trail can be a bit confusing at times but as long as you follow the arrows you will get there. And it’s true, you have to park on the highway and walk up a steep paved hill through the college and some dirt road next to some job sites just to get to the trail head but it is worth it! Wear sunscreen, comfortable shoes, and a bathing suit if you want to jump in! It can also be a cool hangout spot if you want to bring lunch, drinks and some music to reward yourself at the top.

4 months ago

There’s no marked parking area. You have to park on the highway and walk about 1.5 miles on a paved road before you even get to the trail. There is trash littered everywhere. Almost all the bigger rocks have been tagged-kids suck. The trails are marked with blue/green/red paint which is somewhat helpful if you ignore the colors and just follow the markings. I took my dogs with me and they played in the water a bit but they smelled like a sewer when we got home.

4 months ago

great trail but careful - I almost stepped on a rattlesnake (Southern Pacific Rattlesnake from doing some research) there today!! Was down by the river about 3 miles in. It was just under a fallen tree trunk about a foot off the ground that I was walking on - from the path to the river.

hiking
4 months ago

This could be really beautiful, but people ruined it by leaving trash everywhere and graffitiing the rocks. I don’t understand why people would want to trash something so beautiful!
Leave no trace!

hiking
4 months ago

This is a gorgeous hike but I was SO disappointed by how much trash was on the trail. Picked up 17 water/Gatorade bottles and three dog poop bags worth of garbage. I don’t understand how people can hike to enjoy nature and then trash it.

4 months ago

Good cliffs to jump off

hiking
4 months ago

Great hike and do-able with kids. Watch for snakes!

hiking
4 months ago

Pretty good hike. Not hard at all. The trail does disappear so be careful we met some people getting lost. There are distinct purple/green/red arrows on rocks so look down and follow them! Or else you will be lost through the forest/stream. If you get there early enough don’t park in the street, drive in and there is very LIMITED park by the main entrance. It’s 3 in and 3 out of you want to go to the first punch bowl. That one is very nice. Be early or else you deal with families/young people etc. I went to the second waterfall. Got started at 8 Am and was done by 12ish... keep in mind we jumped in and swam a little. Pack a light lunch if you want to hangout, swim suit, towel and water shoes it’s a fun spot.

nature trips
5 months ago

Close,Water, and beautiful

hiking
5 months ago

We went last week. Lots of vegetation, but the trail disappeared on us, and we didn't get to finish.

hiking
5 months ago

Go early to avoid the crowds and noisy party animals that like to hike to the punch bowls to swim, drink and play loud music. Winter is a much more pleasent time to do this hike. I prefer to take the marked trail up to the campground and drop into the bowl, rather the follow the trail shown on the map which turns into a lot of boulder hopping.

It is nice to see the changes occurring after the Thomas Fire, and to see southern California fire ecology at work. Some interesting wildflowers can be see right now (June 24, 2018).

hiking
5 months ago

The first time we went on this hike we took the more common route (I think it’s the more common route?) and it started off nicely with plenty of shade but it eventually progressed to a more exposed route. The vegetation is charred from an obvious past fire—really sad. I imagine that before this fire, this route was probably shaded and pleasant. We made it to the first punch bowl after a pretty warm walk. The second time around we started our hike earlier in the AM and we took a different route which was shaded 90% of the way and required lots of scrambling/water crossing—waaaay more fun than our first trip~! But be very careful with slippery rocks and careless climbing. We were hoping that we would make it to a different punch bowl while on the second route but it only led us to the same/main punch bowl. Very fun/active hike if you take the right route but so So Very Sad to see lots of graffiti and trash left behind at the punch bowl(s)~!! Please clean up after yourselves and your pup~!
We will most likely return and try to find the other punch bowls soon~!

5 months ago

Went two weeks ago. Started at 10:30 am and came back at 5:30. Of course there were lots of breaks taken a good amount of time spent at the first punch bowls. There isn’t an obvious trail but there are orange and blue markers on the trees and arrows on the rocks. As long as you hear the water you will be ok. It was a real fun time and we thought we brought a lot of food and water for two but we barely had enough lol. Every chance we got we splashed water on our legs to keep fresh the whole way through!

6 months ago

Beautiful trail but must start early and take plenty of water and walking stick or it helped me.. ..at end of trail it’s all well worth just for the amazing punch bowl..

6 months ago

Awesome hike!

6 months ago

Amazing hike! It’s now open. Got to the first punch bowl at 10am with no one around and it later got crowded. Had a hard time finding the other punch bowls so just swam around the first one!

hiking
6 months ago

The trail is actually open. Mostly shaded. You crossed a couple streams. Pay attention to the trails. Like people said followed the arrows would be okay however, not really reliable since some faded away. Today we also found someone purposely blocked the arrow, which was really upsetting. Luckily we caught us on the wrong trail fairly quickly. When you go up there, the stream shall be "mostly" in your right hand side sometimes aren't. It is opposite on the way back, the stream shall your left side. I felt taking a dog can be hard on dog if the dog isn't trained. Some parts require you to climb on big rocks.

7 months 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.

8 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.

9 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.

9 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
10 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.

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