The Hermit Falls hike is a short trek with some moderate elevation change to what in the spring is a fast-flowing waterfall through a narrow canyon of boulders in the Santa Anita Wash. During the summer, however, the area turns into a popular swimming hole with cliff jumps varying in height from 5 to 45 feet.
Beginning at the Chantry Flat parking area, the hike to Hermit Falls immediately begins losing elevation as it drops into the wash on a wide paved trail. The route then splits from the pavement and heads off on its own track that quickly begins descending a series of switchbacks to the canyon bottom along a path shaded by large oaks.
A couple of stream crossings are required here, and these are as simple as stepping across some stones in the low-flowing months of late-summer (they may require some jumping or wet feet during the spring). From the first crossing, continue heading downstream.
After about 1.5 miles the trail climbs from the stream bottom and eventually bends to a view looking over the white boulders of the falls to the left. During the summer there are two main pools, the lower of which requires using some ropes left in place to access. The upper pool has rocks at varying heights to jump from, while the lower pool is only for those looking to jump from heights of 20 feet or more - the tallest ledge being about 45 feet above the water. As always, test the depth before jumping in.
From the falls, you can retrace your path and begin the climb out of the canyon and back to the parking area. Water, bathrooms, grills and picnic benches are available in the Chantry Flat parking area. The Pack Station offers a full general store, Adventure Passes, trail maps and snacks, and overflow parking for $5 in the event that the free lots are full.
Swimming holes and cliff jumping can be extremely dangerous and unpredictable outdoor activities that pose significant risks regarding personal safety. Changing water levels, unseen rocks, and river bottoms that have shifted with currents and seasonal weather can turn a well-known jumping area into a serious hazard. Prior to engaging in these activities, extensively scout the current conditions, and understand the risks involved with serious injury and the logistical challenges of evacuation from the water so you can make safe decisions.