Escondido Falls

HikeSnobs rate this: 2.5thumb

Location: 

Visited: May 5, 2013 & March 5, 2017

Description: Located in Malibu, you’ll find one of the most unique waterfall(s) in the area.

Length: 4 miles out and back

Elevation: 400 feet

Duration: 2-3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Terrain: Paved road onto a dirt and rocky trail

Parking: Small lot. Parking available along the PCH

Pets: Dog-friendly

Best time to go: Spring/Winter (when it is waterFALLING)

Bring: Camera, shoes with good grip (nikes were fine for us), water shoes, change of clothes, lunch/snack


Just along the coast of the PCH in Malibu you’ll find one of the best waterfalls in the Los Angeles area. Escondido Falls has always been a premier trail for Los Angeles residents but in light of the recent drought, the waterfalls have dried up and lost its charm. With the crazy winter storms we’ve experienced this year, Escondido Falls has sprung back to life. We were excited to finally get another chance to see the falls again!

On a rainy day, we got to the trailhead just as the morning rain came to a halt. There’s a small parking lot on the left side of Winding Way Road. If you get here late, it’ll most likely be full. Don’t worry because there should be plenty of parking along the PCH, just double check the posted signs and make sure you can park there.

The first mile of the trail starts uphill along Winding Way road; a  paved road for local residential use only. The houses here are ginormous! We spent the next 15 minutes gawking at the massive mansions that sat high above the hill tops, playing guessing games on how much it cost or how many rooms were in each house.

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Not before long, you’ll hit the beginning of the Escondido Trail. Take a left from the paved road and follow the dirt trail downhill.

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The hills and trails were green and lush from the recent rain. It was absolutely serene 😍

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There were a few water crossings that we had endure. You can decide to get your feet wet or expertly rock hop across to keep your toes dry.

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There are a few T intersections that you’ll cross, just stay to your left and follow the signs on the trail. The trail may be extremely slippery and muddy depending on when you go. Being extra careful with our footing, we glided “gracefully” through the wet parts of the trail 😛

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About a 3/4 mile from the Escondido Trail starting point, the first set of falls will come into view. There was a large crowd already there. This is a great resting point before you decide to see the second waterfall.

We’ve read that the second part of the waterfall is much more challenging to get to. Some people end their hike at the first fall and turn back because it can get really slippery and steep in certain parts. To continue onto the larger fall (which you should, don’t stop now!), look for the steep trail on the right side. It’s only 15 minutes away from this point! The trail was easy to spot, it was just beyond a trampled fence. You’ll probably catch others attempting the same trail so ask around if you are unsure.

You will be rock scrambling the entire way up. The trail can get steep, we thought about turning back for a moment but continued to truck forward.

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We found out later there was a less steep way but obviously the hiking gods wanted us to challenge ourselves 😉 Once you reached the top, you’ll spot the top of the second waterfall. It looked absolutely amazing! It was the motivation we needed for us to continue and helped us forget about how the hell we were going to get back down later 😅  (That’s a problem for future us!)

Following the sound of the rushing waterfall, we quickly hiked the rest of the trail to the base of the falls. Standing right below the falls, you can feel the midst and small droplets of water surround you.

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It was totally worth it to continue the hike just to see this second fall. It honestly puts the first waterfall to shame. Standing 150 feet tall, this mossy waterfall is anything short of spectacular. The cavernous backdrop of the falls is what makes them truly unique. You can actually climb into the first one. After watching a few people attempt and successfully make it to the base of the first tier, we knew we had to do it ourselves.

Keep in mind, it can get very slippery and you should exercise extreme caution here. There is a fallen tree you can climb onto on the right side.

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From there you should see a rope someone kindly left behind for support.

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The first part will be the trickiest due to the lack of traction there. One you make it past the rope, everything else should be easy. Before you climb into the cave, be prepared to get soaked if you weren’t soaked already.


It was such an awesome feeling being inside the waterfall as the water came rushing down from above. After climbing back down to the base, drenched from head to toe, we were able to hang out and enjoy some hot cheetos in our hammock. That is the HikeSnob life right there!


@HikeSnobs Tips:

  • You’ll want to be very careful on your way down to the beginning of the trail if you went the same way we did (from the 1st to the 2nd falls). Try to crab walk or keep yourself low to the ground to prevent yourself from slipping or falling.
  • If it is too steep for you, ask around for the easier trail! Good luck!

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Leave us a message below!

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