Want to escape the hustle of Los Angeles but don’t have the time for a big hike? Try this short, easy stroll down a shaded trail that ends with a picturesque waterfall.
Mileage: 3 miles Round Trip
Elevation Gain/Loss: 600 feet
Day Hiked: 8/17/13
Dog Friendly: Yes
It has been hot in Los Angeles lately, and fires are still wreaking havoc in parts of the Sierra. This is a rough time of year for those of us who like to hit the trail in Southern California! One can only spend so much time catching up on Netflix before cabin fever takes hold. So, this past weekend we all headed out to the Monrovia Falls trail to spend some time outside.
This was our son Owen’s second time hitting the trail. He recently grew into his Kid Comfort backpack, which we plan to use extensively over the next few years. The pack is a great fit, and it can hold a lot of additional gear. Thankfully, Owen took to his new pack immediately. We look forward to building him up to bigger adventures over the next couple years.
Monrovia Falls and its nearby trails reside in Monrovia Canyon Park. There is limited parking inside of the park, which costs five dollars for the day. Parking and vehicle access is also limited to 8-5 on weekdays and 7-5 on weekends. If you choose to not park inside of the park, there is a long stretch of road that you can walk down to access the park that adds about a mile of extra distance each way. Since we had Owen with us and the morning temperature was quickly rising, parking inside of the park was a no-brainer.
The only parking that was left when we arrived was up at the Nature Center. Since we wanted a full tour of the very small network of trails that the park offers, we hiked back down the road to the park entrance and then headed up the Bill Cull trail.
On a hot summer day like the one we were hiking on, the Bill Cull trail is not highly recommended. It offers little shelter from the sun, and the views it provides aren’t necessarily worth the effort. It does provide a nice overview of the area you are heading into, and it also gives hikers some variety of landscapes to observe.
After about three quarters of a mile, the trail descends back down into Monrovia Canyon and merges with the self guided nature trail. From here, it is 0.9 miles to the waterfall. There are sign posts along the trail that coincide with handouts offered by the park to provide info on the natural history of the area, making it a great place to take young children.
From this point on, the trail offers frequent access to the nearby stream channeling through the canyon, which was a great relief for Callie on the hot day.
The canyon is filled with trees that shade most of the trail and cause the light to splinter as it enters the forest. It is a beautiful, easy walk. Additionally, the trail is much less crowded then its popular neighbor, Eaton Canyon. I suspect this is due to the parking fee associated with Monrovia Canyon Park, but either way, it is nice to be able to stop and observe the surroundings without being swarmed with other people.
The trail meanders its way up the canyon and eventually ends at Monrovia Falls. The waterfall itself was barely more than a trickle on our visit. I suspect that late summer in a dry season is the worst time to go, and from pictures I’ve seen it can be flowing quite steadily after a winter storm. I guess that gives us a reason to go back sometime.
Not that it really mattered though. After being spoiled by some of the best sights that California has to offer, a simple waterfall such as this one is not going to blow us away at this point. The purpose of the hike was to get outside, explore a new trail, and spend some time together as a family. From that perspective, the hike was a huge success, as most of them are.