Recent rains make now a great time to visit Switzer land! Switzer Falls, that is. This 50-foot tumbler didn’t lose its luster during the Station Fire. The only clues that the blaze swept through here are the occasional downed tree or blackened root. There are a few ways to reach the two-tiered waterfall, some more reliable than others. We recommend the 3.6-mile (round-trip) trail through a fragrant, shaded canyon paralleling a year-round stream to Switzer’s lower falls. Starting on the popular Gabrielino Trail, follow signs to the falls while hiking alongside the swiftly flowing Arroyo Seco. Alders and oaks offer a cool canopy. Criss-cross the stream nearly a dozen times as a series of switchbacks lead to a dryer environment where yellow evening primrose flowers and yuccas flourish in ashen soil. The trail hugs the cliff before descending again to the canyon floor. Stay left, and it’s one last hop, skip, and jump over the water to lower Switzer Falls, a demure, 15-foot tumbler pouring into a large green pool (the upper falls is taller, but there’s no official trail to reach it and the scramble is dangerous). Watery reflections and filters of sunlight play on the surrounding boulders, creating a calm oasis.
TIP: Pick up picnic provisions at La Cañada Farmers’ Market (1346 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge, just across the street from Memorial Park), open Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The small but superb market includes organic produce, hot tamales, a gourmet cheese monger, and fresh juices.
Switzer Falls is off the Angeles Crest Highway (SR-2). Starting in La Cañada Flintridge, take SR-2 approximately 10 miles north, then look for the sign-marked turnoff on your right. Follow the steep driveway down to the main parking area. A National Forest Adventure Pass is required for parking; buy one ahead of time at these locations. Dog friendly!