Escondido Canyon and Falls - August 2011

Another urge to explore the outdoors. Another canyon in Malibu to discover. A friend to reconnect with. Escondido Canyon and Falls it is!

I had somehow never heard of this place. It's not a CA state park or part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. I'm not actually sure who manages it. According to the sign, it's the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. J read about it and it combined a stroll through riparian areas (i.e. next to a stream or river) with a falls which seemed to be flowing all year so we went for it.

Here's where we were:

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It's just past Solstice Canyon which I've been exploring lately. Note that you need to park on PCH or in a small, free parking lot right at PCH that's labeled Winding Way Trail (if you're lucky enough to get a spot). Then walk up the paved road past houses until you get to the sign below, when you head down into the actual trail.

Here's a trail map although you're unlikely to need it. While you're on the trail, it splits quite a bit and you wonder if you're going the right direction, but all trails seem to converge at the falls so no worries about getting lost.

I enjoyed the actual trail quite a bit. It is mostly shaded and cool near the water and crosses the creek many times. I can imagine during the spring or after a heavy rain you'd get your feet quite wet crossing over it. There aren't any bridges. Just jumping from rock to rock. In August this isn't a problem.

Here we continued the search for the ever elusive salamander to no avail. We also saw many butterflies and tadpoles. One even mature enough to have some back and front legs. Not too many flowers, but we say some orange bush monkeyflower, scarlet monkeyflower, various sages, and something in the hemlock/carrot/fennel family (i.e. Apiaceae) that was tall and everywhere.

The one with the front and back legs might be a Treefrog tadpole
(Genus Pseudacris)

The area by the falls is quite beautiful. So green and lush and we saw a few large dragonflies flitting around (one VERY large, VERY red/orange one that completely captivated me). The falls itself was mainly a trickle, but a trickle spread over quite a large area (hence the lushness). I'm sure in March or April it's quite a sight to see.

There's an area to the right of the falls you can climb up (and I mean climb - like on hands and knees hanging onto rocks and trees) to get a view like this . . .

At that point you can use a rope to work your way to the upper falls which drop 150-feet into a deep pool - potentially the highest falls in the Santa Monica Mountains.

On this particular day though, it was a bit crowded for my tastes and I didn't want to wait in line for the rope and have 10 people waiting for me, watching me slowly work my way up. Let's just say I don't perform well under pressure. I'd like to go back and try it on a weekday when it might not be so crowded.

In terms of time, I'd say you could get to the falls and back to the car in 2 hours. Weekend Malibu traffic can be pretty rough though so keep that in mind.

Here are some more of my shots from the hike.

Western Tiger Swallowtail
(Papilio rutulus)
Western Fence Lizard
(Sceloporus occidentalis)

For more of my photos from this location, see my Flickr set here.