Big Falls Waterfall in Forest Falls

Big Falls waterfall in Forest Falls is one of the largest year-round running waterfalls in Southern California. The top part of the falls is around 150 to 200 feet drop and the water continues down to the river below. There are many small waterfalls below the main two which makes this waterfall seem like it goes on for a good while, the overall drop from top to bottom is around 500 feet.

Big falls forest falls

People have stated that it is hard to find the trail, do note that from parts of the parking lot and while driving up near the parking lot, you can see the waterfall off to the left. This should help you get your barrings but if you go when there is snow or high water flow it may be difficult to make it to the falls.

The falls are at the end of a short 1 to 2-mile hike that takes you from the parking lot, across a small river and up to a vista point. Many people stop here, but you can continue past this vista point and all the way up through the water to the base of the falls. They make sure you are warned of the danger though with the slippery rocks and uneven climbing.

big falls hazard sign

From the vista point, many people elect to ford the water below and start the climb up to the base of the main fall. During this climb you will cross over the river a couple times and even scale up the parts of some hillsides before reaching the base of the falls so make sure you are careful if you attempt this and do not attempt it if there is a lot of water!

big falls hike

While this is not extremely dangerous it should not be taken lightly as there are many opportunities to fall on the way up and it is even more slippery coming down from the falls. However, once you reach the base of the waterfall it is nothing short of majestic. It is somewhat hard to photograph just because the sheer size mists everything that comes below it and if you have a nice camera you know how much it does not like water. If you take the risk the pictures will make it worth it.

taking photos of big falls

We spent about an hour and a half to climb and photograph this waterfall, it is by far one of the most rewarding waterfalls you can hike to in Southern California mainly due to the sheer size and flow of water that comes out of it. I would highly recommend you check this waterfall out, and if you are not from the area you can probably hit both Big Falls and heart rock falls in the same day, they are not particularly close to each other though.

slow motion waterfall big falls

Let me know what you think of this waterfall in the comments and check out more Southern California falls here.

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  • Jerad

    Thank you for the nice step by step Info. But i still have hard time to get the directions. Pls help. Thanks

    • If you click on the image in the map at the bottom of the post it will allow you to put in your address and get directions from your address to near the parking area. Let me know if you need additional help with getting there and I will try to answer your questions.

      • jerad

        thank you for the response. where can i get those parking permits? does it available on the site. also how long does it take to go near by the big waterfall. thanks

  • stephanie gebel

    Thanks for giving out this info. I live in Forest Falls and I think it would be wise to inform your readers that someone falls almost every weekend. We hear the helicopters air lift them out. The rock below the falls is called “blood rock” because there have been so many people who have hit their head on it as to stain it red. The “Warning Sign” is hardly adequate for the real danger of this place. Please do not risk your life to get closer to the falls.

    • Thanks for the comment, I am sure the readers of the post will find it helpful

  • Armed in NY

    Great photos ! They brought back memories from my past. I was stationed at March Air Force base from 1981 – 1983 and used to hike to these falls often. Back then the falls ran hard and fast. At the bottom of the main fall there was a pool that we used to sit in or use to keep our beer cold, it then broke off into 2 smaller falls.

    • Thanks for sharing that story! I haven’t been here in a while and need to go check it out again

  • jess

    I think it about time for me ask, as i have gone on enough websites…. how do you get to the waterfall? I just got back today from doing a hike in the area but obviously not the right one and met up with another group that did the same thing as me. I did go in the winter so the trail was covered in snow but for all you people wanting to go on this hike for the first time, go WEST! DOWN STREAM. well at least I think because its the only explanation and I think its what i have realized from reading it up after having gone. If you are going towards or pass Vivian creek you are going the wrong way. You WILL see signs that say trail and falls, even get to a spot that says trail 1 mile up this incline but yo… going to wrong way…
    Please, someone correct me if I am wrong but for y’all trying to go for the first time it is 0.8 miles from the parking lot, not this other trail marker… sorry i am just a little frustrated…

    • I am not sure how easy it would be to find the trail in the snow, so I would probably recommend coming when the snow is gone. That being said you can see the top of the waterfall peak out as you drive up and from parts of the parking lot. That should help you get your barrings on the direction to go in.

  • Christopher Lattimore-Carter

    I thought I heard the hike to the top waterfall (the one halfway up the mountain) was closed off due to the numerous accidents there. Is it still closed?