Etiwanda Falls Trail in Rancho Cucamonga packs a lot of bang for your buck: waterfall, wildflowers, panoramic views of the Inland Empire, and lush green surroundings as you walk. Nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, this 3.4-mile (round-trip) out-and-back trail is a favorite among locals, and you’ll quickly understand why.
The shadeless trail almost immediately begins with a moderate incline and continues uphill until you reach the waterfall. Frequent breaks to admire the stunning views of the Inland Empire below help give your legs a rest. Thanks to our winter rains, the trail is lush and green, with pretty purple wildflowers dotting the hillside. You’ll pass through areas of oak woodland, chaparral, and coastal sage scrub, as well as one of only three remaining areas of alluvial fan sage scrub in the whole state.
Shortly beyond an old irrigation system on your right, you’ll reach the falls. A small path to the right leads to an overlook viewpoint, while one to the left goes directly to the top of the falls. The 15-foot waterfall is particularly impressive right now, after all our recent rains, but is still fun to visit year-round. The views are always great. Bonus: Evening hikers will be rewarded with the sight of twinkling city lights set against the backdrop of a gorgeous sunset in front of them for the whole hike back to the parking lot.
The trailhead is in North Etiwanda Preserve at the end of Etiwanda Ave. in Rancho Cucamonga. From the 210 freeway, head north on Day Creek Blvd. until it dead-ends at Etiwanda Ave., then make a left. Follow Etiwanda Ave. until it turns into a dirt parking lot at the preserve. The preserve is open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. March through October, and from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. November through February. Parking lot gates are locked promptly at closing time. Free parking. No dogs.