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Hike Placerita Canyon Waterfall Trail

Placerita Canyon Waterfall in the Spring, Santa Clarita Placerita Canyon Waterfall in the Spring, Santa Clarita
©Dianne Erskine-Hellrige

Length: 1.5 miles from the Trailhead - You have to get to the trailhead from the longer Canyon Trail or the shorter Walker Ranch Trailhead

Difficulty: Fairly Easy with rocky areas, a few steep, wet sections and muddy patches. In the winter or after a rain there may be significant water in the stream bed. Be cautious during rainy and wet seasons. Also look for thick patches of poison oak.

Description: The Waterfall Trail is a one-way, dead-end trail that begins out of the Lower Walker Ranch section of Placerita Canyon Natural Area, and leads up Los Pinetos Canyon to a vernal waterfall. The dead end of the trail is a 25-foot waterfall that runs from November to June in normal rain years; occasionally, in very wet years (such as 1998, 2005) the waterfall will run year-round.

The trail is approximately 3/4 of a mile from the Walker Ranch Waterfall Trailhead at the eastern end of Placerita Canyon Natural Area. It gains relatively little in elevation (from 1850 to 2115), but the canyon bottom on some stretches of the trail can be rocky and slick. In addition, because of is very mesic (moist) and shaded microclimate, poison oak is a very common sight along and around the trail, so watch out! And remember, "leaves of three, let it be".

At the mid-point of the trail, two side canyons branch off the main Los Pinetos Canyon. Just keep to the right each time, and you will find your way to the falls. Once there, you will immediately recognize the waterfall by the large downed Big Cone Douglas Fir tree trunk that provides a balance for hikers to navigate the stream crossing. You might also notice Big Leaf Maples, Ash, California Laurel, Black Walnut, Canyon Oak, and other trees more common to wetter climates. The waterfall trail is definitely one of the more moist microclimates found in the Santa Clarita Valley. This is also a known nesting area for Spotted Owls.

How to Get to the Trailhead: Exit SR 14 at Placerita Cyn Rd. If you're coming from the south, turn right. If you're coming from the north, turn left on to Placerita Canyon Road. Then, turn right into a turnout marked with a wooden "Walker Ranch Trailhead" sign on your right, approximately 3.5 miles from Hwy 14. If you'd like a longer Hike, turn into the Placerita Nature Center Natural Area, park, and take the Canyon Trail all the way to Walker Ranch where you will find the trailhead to the Waterfall.

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