La Jolla Canyon

Hiking to La Jolla Canyon Waterfall in Point Mugu State Park

Hiking La Jolla Canyon in Point Mugu State Park after winter rains is like entering a lost world. That usually bone-dry creek bed? It’s a flowing river. Those brown hillsides? They’re alive with green and mottled with flowers. And that precipitous wall at the head of the canyon? It is (ta-da!) a genuine waterfall—two of them, in fact. (Be aware that the state park plans to close this trail soon—mainly to prevent hikers from attempting to go past the waterfall. But for now, it’s open and safe, as long as you don’t attempt to scale the head of the canyon above the waterfall.)

Start your 1.6-mile out-and-back hike at the Ray Miller Trailhead just off PCH and head straight up the La Jolla Canyon Trail where the sign reads “Waterfall 0.8 mi.” Once you cross over the unnamed creek, you’ll keep it on your left all the way up. Look high to your left as you enter the canyon and you’ll see an astounding profusion of bright yellow giant coreopsis flowers. Look right a bit farther up and see another hillside covered with pale orange monkey flowers. You’ll see trailside poppies and mariposa lilies and whatever else is currently emerging from dormancy after so many years of drought. The trail rises gently and stays well above the creek. Where the trail narrows is where you should stop. Photo op. You’ll see two cascades, the first a steep 20-foot tumble off the canyon wall into a cool pool, while the lower fall sheets about 15 feet down into a smaller pool. If you want to get up close, you’ll need to retrace your steps a bit to an informal trail that leads down to the creek. From there you can scramble upstream to the base of the falls. You should definitely not attempt to go around the waterfall. That access was washed out years ago. As you head back to the trailhead, congratulate yourself on having rediscovered a lost world.

Gallery image 1 of 8
Gallery image 2 of 8
Gallery image 3 of 8
Gallery image 4 of 8
Gallery image 5 of 8
Gallery image 6 of 8
Gallery image 7 of 8
Gallery image 8 of 8

To get to the Ray Miller Trailhead, take I-10 to Pacific Coast Hwy. (CA-1) and proceed 34 miles northwest. The entrance road is on your right about a mile after the giant sandy hill. From the north, take Pacific Coast Hwy. (CA-1) south 16 miles from the US-101 interchange in Oxnard. Paid parking ($8 a day) and the trailhead are 0.25 mile up the entrance road. Free parking is available on Pacific Coast Hwy. No dogs.

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Shakespeare Bridge + Secret Garden

    Romeo, Romeo, we all know how this goes, but do you know how to go to the Shakespeare Bridge and secret gardens? We’ve got the online do-it-yourself hiking route for you.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Hidden Stairways of SF: Urban Hike

    This guided hike sold out fast, but new dates have been added! Get outdoors and explore the hidden stairways and gardens of San Francisco anew. Small group and socially distanced.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Boontime!

    Glamp in a tent cabin or stay in private patio room among redwoods in the heart of Russian River. And do some wine tasting at these two beautiful vineyards with airy cabanas and gorgeous views.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Bodega's Hidden Hike-in Beach

    Bodega Head has a mystical hike-in beach trail through secret sand dunes. Hike in, then enjoy the West's tastiest BBQ brisket on a patio overlooking Bodega Bay Harbor.

    View

Trending Stories Northern CA

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Fall for the Treasures of North Lake Tahoe

    North Lake Tahoe in fall is an amazing time. It’s less crowded, many hiking and biking trails are open, sunsets and starry nights are spectacular, and fields of aspens are a splendor across the region.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Ride and Seek

    Oceanside breezes, beautiful beaches, a car-free pathway for biking, and beer at the end: You’re on a roll! The San Mateo Coast was made for beach hopping and beer tasting …

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Redwoods, Beach, Banner View!

    Explore among the redwoods in Henry Cowell State Park on this magical 5-mile hike featuring the big trees, a beach, and a beautiful view from an observation deck.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    GOAT Coastal Hike + Sunset

    GOAT (greatest of all time) Sonoma Coast experience? Hike the Kortum Trail, wine taste on a patio overlooking the Russian River, and catch a sensational sunset at, yep, Goat Rock Beach.

    View