Plenty of hikers in Big Santa Anita Canyon
make the trek to popular Sturtevant Falls
, but you can’t swim there. For a refreshing dip, head to the area’s lesser-known Hermit Falls, a 35-foot tucked-away tumbler. The 2.6-mile (round-trip) hike to the falls begins with a descent into the bay-shaded canyon on the First Water Trail. Follow a gargling creek past quiet cabins in the woodland retreat of Roberts Camp. Upstream, the Gabrielino Trail leads to Sturtevant Falls, but to get to Hermit Falls, head downstream. The forested trail—vibrant with green ivy and purple vinca—will have you feeling so far from LA that you may have to splash some water on your face to ensure it’s not all a dream. Spend the afternoon sliding down slickrock cascades or simply wading around. You may spot some people leaping into the pools from the top of Hermit Falls, but leave the crazy stuff to them or your bragging rights might be reduced to broken bones or worse. And it’s just so much nicer when things go swimmingly.
From the 210 in Arcadia, exit Santa Anita Ave. and drive north for 2 miles until it becomes Chantry Flat Rd. Continue 3 miles up the mountain until the road ends at the Chantry Flat trailhead and parking lot. Buy a $5 Adventure Pass at Adam’s Pack Station. (If general parking is full, Adam’s will let you park in its lot for $10—no Adventure Pass needed.) Begin down the paved trail at the Chantry Flat trailhead and make the first right onto First Water Trail, just under a quarter mile from the start. Follow switchbacks down into Santa Anita Canyon and continue downstream, crossing the creek twice to reach the pools at the top of Hermit Falls where the canyon walls pinch together. Dog-friendly!