Escondido Falls is a very scenic waterfall lying in the canyons of Malibu. A 2-mile, relatively easy hike takes you from the rush of Southern California's Pacific Coast Highway to a calm and distant-feeling 100-foot waterfall tucked into a lush oak canyon. Beyond the lower falls hikers can venture up a much-harder trail to the upper falls, which tower 150 feet above the pool at its base. This is the tallest waterfall in the Santa Monica Mountains.
The first mile of the hike is along the shoulder of Winding Way Road, a private road that serves the multi-million-dollar homes perched with ocean views in this section of Malibu. After passing this portion, the trail veers from the road and drops into a canyon, where tall oaks and lush green foliage easily make you forget you were just a jog away from one of the busiest metro areas in the United States.
The trail crosses a creek a few times and but ultimately leads over a relatively flat path to Lower Escondido Falls just under 2 miles in. Note that higher flows may require some creative stream crossings. Large oaks provide shade around the trail, and the falls stand around 100 feet tall.
For the adventurous, a visible trail leads from the grotto at the lower falls up to the upper falls; however, this trail is steep, full of loose rock and potentially dangerous. It climbs and scrambles about 150 feet in about 1,500 yards, passing another small falls running over boulders before reaching the base of Upper Escondido Falls. At 150-feet-tall, these awe-inspiring falls are the tallest in the Santa Monicas. The gorgeous view allows you to calm your nerves from the climb, and the spray from the falls provides a refreshing chill on hot days.
From here, retrace your path back down the slope to the lower falls and out of the canyon, slowly leaving the majestic falls and wild canyon behind as you ease back into the crush of urban Southern California.
Water flow is seasonal, so visit this falls after the wet season or a rainstorm!
A trash can and a portable toilet are available in the small parking area off of the Pacific Coast Highway. If the lot is full, parking is allowed along the shoulder of the Pacific Coast Highway.