They are billed as “falls” but what makes this hike really worth doing is the small pool at the base of the falls. I caught the pool at its most picturesque, at 7:00 on a week day, when it is totally deserted. On a hot weekend afternoon, the side of that pool would be full of would-be swimmers.
I say “would-be” because two weekends ago during the near-100 degree days I saw plenty of people in bathing suits on the trail, but nobody in the water except me. Several people asked if I was freezing….. I was somewhere between refreshingly icy and slightly numb.
What I mainly was thinking while in the water though, was “Please God don’t let these pools dry up before September.”
On one of the days I also met an long-time Pasadena resident who recounted younger days where she climbed over the steep canyon walls surrounding the waterfall and climbed up to a higher pool area where there are 13 more falls, and a more private setting.
She told me where to look for evidence of people doing this, and I saw several ropes on incredibly steep rock walls, as well as a less dangerous looking area where it appeared people had recently climbed.
So sometime in the future you may see a hike/climb of the week that involves scrambling to the upper falls of Eaton Canyon. That is, if my girlfriend doesn’t catch wind of the plan… she does not really approve of off-trail cliff scrambling.
The hike is about 4 miles roundtrip for the Eaton Canyon Nature Center with minimal elevation gain. There are a lot of stream crossings though.
You can also access the road from the trailhead at the intersection of Altadena Drive and Roosevelt Avenue, or to get even closer, go to the Pinecrest Drive cul-de-sac.
From either the Altadena head or Eaton Canyon Nature Center head back towards the hills, cross the river, turn left, and just keep going. Once you have crossed under a bridge, you know you are on the way. Maps are also available at the nature center.
For more location info, check out the big local hiking board.