Hike-in Required
Open Year-round
ADA accessible
Guided tours
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Ortega Falls is a seasonally flowing series of falls and cascades down a boulder-lined canyon along Ortega Highway in the Santa Ana Mountains. 

Set down a steep dirt and rock trail from an unsigned pullout along the highway, a short but steep trail leads down into the canyon where, when the water is flowing, a scenic and beautiful series of falls runs down a steep section of the canyon. Visitors can hike to a number of shallow pools along the stream. 

The stream only flows following times of rain, so wet spring seasons will give the best opportunity to see the falls. There is typically no water flow at all during the summer season and later in the year. 

Parking is available at an unsigned large pullout, though there will often be several other cars when the water is flowing, and visitors can search for "Ortega Falls" in their online navigation which lead right to the parking area.

From there a network of use trails head down the slope, descending about 120 feet toward the canyon. Again, there are no signs or improvements marking the route. Paths splinter and fork, however most will head down to the same main area. The trail is both rocky and slippery. It is hikeable by those with moderate abilities, however families with children should expect to go slow.

Upon descending down the main path to the water, visitors can walk through the water or hop boulders and continue hiking up- and downstream. There are several shallow pools and falls, depending on the amount of water flowing. Unfortunately the area is also filled with graffiti, which tends to make the whole experience a little less nice.

There are no improvements of any kind along the trail. Please plan on packing out any trash carried in. In all, the hike is about .25 miles round trip, but the landscape is steep and slick.

A National Forest Adventure Pass must be displayed while parked.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Forest Pass


Short hike.


Lots of graffiti. Falls and water flow are only seasonal.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions


Family friendly
Near lake or river


Nearby Adventures


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