Sapphire Falls Rancho Cucamonga CA Hike Photos

This information is on the old trail that is now off limits. Read the last section to see where the new trail starts.

Update August 2013: Multiple people have told me the trail is currently closed “due to high fire danger,” I have not been myself but figured I would pass on the info as there are a lot of other great trails in Southern California. Please let me know if you go and this is not the case.

Located in the foothills of Rancho Cucamonga, Sapphire Falls is a beautiful waterfall that is easy to hike to, boasts a rope that allows you to climb up it and you can slide down the waterfall when coming back down. All of these things make it a must see during the summer months. Make sure you plan lots of time for it as well as you can swim to your hearts content, and if you are able to climb the waterfall you can even continue walking to a second waterfall. Update June 2012 – The way written about in this guide is closed and can result in a ticket. View the comments and the update at the bottom for a better layout of how to get to the falls the cities approved way, but be very careful as others are reporting this way is very unsafe and requires climbing. I have not done it myself so make sure you do not do anything unsafe.

Sapphire falls from afar

The Hike

To start the hike to this waterfall you should be able to mapquest directions to it below. It is located right off the freeway and you pretty much follow a huge wash the entire way there. The hike is relatively easy so if you are in decent shape you should be able to make it up there in around an hour. Along the way there are a lot of different things to see such as a man-made waterfall, old abandoned mine areas and graffiti layered broken down structures.

Urban decay on the sapphire falls trail

As a fan of urban decay and a fan of hiking it is bitter sweet for me to see how much this trail has been destroyed by people not cleaning up after themselves and tagging everything. Sure it makes for some interesting sites, but overall this trail has so much graffiti and trash it is sickening.

Crossing river to Sapphire falls

The trail itself has many water crossings so make sure you wear shoes that are good for the water. Also this is best done on a warm day as you will get wet, plus being hot is a better excuse to jump in the water and cool off. On the weekend we went there was probably a good 20 people up at the falls. Even though this is a lot, there is still a good amount of room for everyone to relax and enjoy themselves.

Sapphire Falls Pool

The Waterfall

Make sure if you plan to climb to the top of the falls that you are in shape. There is a rope on the base that you can grab and navigate your way to the falls where you can pull yourself up if you have the upper body strength. Below the falls the water is to deep to touch so you have to pull yourself out of the water and stay away from the waterfall that has a lot of force to push you down. Of the people I saw attempt it I would say only 50% were actually able to do it.

Climbing Sapphire Falls

If you are able to make it up the falls you can proceed to the next waterfall which is equally awesome, or you can simply enjoy yourself and take a slide down the waterfall into the water below. Make sure if you plan on visiting Sapphire falls that you give yourself time to hang out as you are going to want to.

View of Sapphire Falls

All in all I can’t think of many better things to do in Rancho Cucamonga during the summer time, so if you live in the area make sure you make it a point to go visit the beautiful Sapphire Falls.

Update (Main Trail Closure & Approved Entrance Area)

Update August 2013 – Multiple people have told me the trail is currently closed “due to high fire danger,” I have not been myself but figured I would pass on the info as there are a lot of other great trails in Southern California. Please let me know if you go and this is not the case.

Update (6/18/2012) –  In researching this issue I found this page from the city of Rancho Cucamonga. There is an approved entrance and it is described as the following.

 “If you are visiting Cucamonga Canyon you will most likely enter through the City of Rancho Cucamonga.  The only legal way to enter or leave the canyon is on Skyline Road.   Skyline Road is located at the top of Sapphire Road and runs north from Almond Street.  All of the land to the west of Skyline Road and south of the second forestry gate (including the wash) is private property.  If you utilize private property to enter or exit the canyon, you are subject to arrest or citation for trespassing.  The police department is working in the canyon every weekend to enforce all laws.”

Here is the map that outlines it

I haven’t taken this trip yet but hopefully that helps clear up the confusion!

Previous Update (5/28/2012) – The main trail is now closed. You can take the alternate trail mentioned below but I have not done it yet to document how it goes.

Dee from the comments does say there is another way to get there though, you can check out his comment below

“The falls are not closed you just cannot enter from the bottom because it is private property.  Go up skyline as mentioned above.  At the low rim take the dirt trail back down to the left around the canyon to the creek.  You can go north or south to the lower 3 falls. Beware that if you are not physically fit enough to pull yourself up the 1st fall your reach on the south side using hands only (concave at that point)  with the falls pushing you back don’t attempt it.  You will be forced to continue down onto the private property to get back out risking the $600 ticket.”

I can personally attest to climbing up the waterfall being a difficult task so if you do this know that in advance. Always make sure to read the comments below to get updates from gracious readers that keep informing us of the trails status!

Check out the rest of the photo gallery and get directions in the top of the posts. Leave me a comment if you have any questions.

Photo Gallery

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  • Suzi

    FYI…the hike you described is in the process of being closed and will be closed permanently very soon. Check with the city on the pending date. Too much trash, vandalism and undesirable individuals has lead to the closure. So sad to see a beautiful place be off limits. They will be removing the parking lot and fines for those that don’t obey signage…

    • Thanks Suzi I will add that to the post so that people know. Let me know if you hear that it is official closed.

  • Eliza

    Thats sad news. I’ve been there. Beautiful place. Thought the same thing, all the trash and graffiti. It should be regulated, watched, or something instead of closed.

  • john

    It was closed when I went last week, such a shame I was excited
    to check
    it out.

    • Thanks for letting me know. I will update the post with your information!

  • daniel

    You can’t go up along the wash which seemed the easier way. You have to go up Skyline, its paved and is constantly patrolled by thd sheriff. Still lots of people,hopefully this route wont get heavilly littered.

    • Thanks for the information Daniel!

  • Welcome

    The falls are now off limits and the police were handing out $600 citations for people who “trespass” onto the property. I went today and it was so sad to see.

    • Thanks for the information, I will update the post so that others see this

  • Dee

    The falls are not closed you just cannot enter from the bottom becuase it is private property. Go up skyline as mentioned above. At the low rim take the dirt trail back down to the left around the canyon to the creek. You can go north or south to the lower 3 falls. Beware that if you are not physically fit enough to pull yourself up the 1st fall your reach on the south side using hands only (concave at that point) with the falls pushing you back don’t attempt it. You will be forced to continue down onto the private property to get back out risking the $600 ticket.

  • Hungs

    i have gone to the falls on 5/29/12 and we didnt even bother going through the original entrance since reading it was closed , but did find diffrent ways to reach these falls,

    1.go through crestview untill you see white barricades and jump over them to the right and follow the trail and keep following that trail left until you can see over the hills and turn right (north) keep following this trail and u will reach the bottom of the streams , just follow the water ( or walk on the side) until you reach the falls

    OR

    2. go up skyline and keep going north on the paved street , you will pass a H (helipad) keep going until you see a bike trail to your left and take that dirt path , you will run into many forks in the road but keep going right and you’ll find your way through, you will then have to go through a hard to see path that goes down this is where you should be careful

    i suggest taking the first route as it is much safer , the second one does take a bit longer but still pretty fun
    we will also be going again today on 6/3/12
    happy hiking

  • Unhappy Camper

    Got a $100 citation today. I’ll be challenging it as soon as possible, since the gate was opened and the only ‘No Trespassing’ signs clearly marked were not along the footpath we took out. They did not advertise anything other than that. I personally think that if they wanted folks to stay out they’d do better than that. The city just wants to empty the pockets of tourists; nothing more. There is a service road used by USDA that is accessible to pedestrians and it leads to a slightly dangerous trail that I don’t believe is very easy to ascend as it was to take down.

    I’m no environmentalist either, but I support conservation efforts. To anyone going; whatever you pack in – pack it out! There’s so much garbage down there that needs to be cleaned up. There were more than a few people in the falls area spraying paint all over the place today and it was more than upsetting. These are the same people who get upset at the citation charges they receive from the Deputies. Just be kind to the environment, or more of this will happen in the future to the places we try to enjoy on our free days.

    • Sorry to hear about your citation! Thanks for letting us know as it will help others make a decision about whether to go or not. That is really sad about the taggers. I always hated how much tagging was already in that area, it doesnt need more. If you remember, update us with what happens with your citation.

    • Wendi Lawrence

      Unhappy Camper, you said that you seen a few people spraying painting. Why didn’t you take their picture? Send them to the Daily Bulletin, I’m sure it would make a good story……

  • Danin M

    I went today with my wife. We saw lots of people parking along Almond when we came back going the now “closed” way. Didn’t look like it stopped anyone. We just didn’t want to risk getting a $600 ticket. We parked on Almond at Skyline. You cannot park on Skyline as it is parking by permit only. We walked to the top of Skyline. At the top you can enter the trail. Its paved. You will pass the helio pad. Keep going. It is a steep incline and up hill the entire way. We saw the dirt path to the left as heading north for bike, its just looked rough so we kept going up the paved road. It is uphill. There were signs posted along the way that said no shooting, no littering, and day use only. When you get to the top. You can turn left down a path or continue going up to a white gate, that I hear takes you up and over to the backside of Baldy. We turned down and went to the bottom where you are at the top of the where the falls start. In order to get to where the falls are in the pic you simply have to walk down stream. It was awesome and worth it. But it was a workout. We’ve been the old way and this way and the old was far easier.

    • Danin, Thanks for the update! That sounds like a good way to go. I am glad you guys got to go even though it seems like that way is more of a work out!

  • Nikki Simmons

    Went up to Sapphire for about 5 hours today. Didn’t run into any trouble. Me and my friend had a great time, although the ropes on the second waterfall have been removed. I usually keep about 50 ft of rope in my car, so next time my goal is to reinstall roping at the second fall so others can enjoy the challenge!

    • Thanks for the update Nikki! Glad you were able to go have fun there today!

  • tr

    So I am confused, I have heard and read people saying that it is “closed” and you cant go there at all anymore without risking a fine, and I have heard you can still go, but have to take the truck trail….which is correct?

    • jose

      it should still be open just take sapphire all the way up and when u reach a dirt road to your left ( DONT TAKE IT) u can if u wanna risk a ticket but i suggest just keep walking north on the paved road until u reach a white metal road block type thing ( theres a rope to the left that will take you down the mountain, NOT EXACTLY SAFE FOR ALL) or keep going and follow the now dirt path untill u reach a fork in the road , TAKE left and from here its all slow decline , walk for a about 15 minutes and you will reach above the second water fall , turn right to get to the third or turn left to go down the second one ( pretty scary) but still fun follow the stream back if u like and you can climb up the rope that goes along the hill ,or risk getting a ticket going any other way but back or up that hill rope

      • Jose, thanks for the great information!

  • Jessica

    The falls from this day on is closed permanently. They city closed it down due to trash and vandalism, the tagging and spray paint (cans) has contaminated the water so no one is allowed to go up. We got fined $100 for trespassing… It sad to see people destroy something so beautiful that no body can enjoy anymore, but it was fun while it lasted.

    • Michel

      So sapphire falls us closed ? My friends and I were planning in going this Saturday …. Should we go and check or turn back ? And do you have Ti be fit To climb the water falls ?

      • Michel, I would just keep reading the comments here, the people writing them have given lots of good advice about the tickets and where it is closed and stuff, so it is the best way to get information on the falls.

  • tr

    Ive been many times before so I know what your talking about, I was just hearing so many different things about it being closed all together and what not.

    We went up saturday and a cop was there and told us to go up skyline, basically what the above map shows…so you can still go there just only by skyline now. This may be a good thing and keep alot of people away because they think its closed now or dont want to go the skyline way.

    • Thanks for the update TR, how hard was the Skyline way?

  • jose

    The skyline way is actually not to bad!! but it is incline! for about 30 minutes , its not far just tiring
    There was a bunch of 10-15 year olds that were coming back from skyline way ( didnt go to the falls but they did come back from them )
    i suggest taking a break every 5 minutes as it gets tiring!! BRING LOTS OF WATER!!
    it will feel like forever but as i said before once u hit the fork its all smooth from there

  • Adam

    Are we still allowed to park on almond street? If no, where is a place to park without getting ticketed?

    • Adam, I am sorry I do not know the answer to that question, hopefully someone else can respond to your question with an answer.

  • jose

    you can park on almond , and on sapphire , some people did get parking tickets only because they parked to close to the residential areas but your fine on almond

  • Angelica B

    Hey all! Been spending pretty much every weekend at Sapphire this summer. The hike just seems to be getting more and more popular every weekend, more and more people show up. All kinds, even seen kids as young as 10 and 11 going down the falls.

    So just a quick update about the almond st. parking, last time I went, a group told us that they parked on the right side of Almond st. ( on the same side as the mountain) and they got ticketed. However, every one and their Mom parked there today and nothing happened. So it’s up to you to risk it. Sometimes the cops aren’t there early but are there waiting for you when you get back!

    Yeah, like others were saying on here, the hike starts going up Skyline st! You’re all good if you take the official trail route! LOTS OF PEOPLE STILL TAKE THE ORIGINAL TRAIL ROUTE through the rocks, I would suggest not to follow the crowd!!!!!! As someone who has done both (and got a nice $100 ticket for trespassing), I love going up Skyline the official route! It’s more difficult, more fun, and gets you nice and sweaty before you hit the falls!!!

    I suggest the following route for the best experience:
    1. Walk up Skyline st to the official trail.
    2. Walk the ~ 1.2 miles uphill and down to the falls.
    3. Follow the stream down
    4. On the left, there is a trail to get to falls #3 and #4! Make sure you don’t miss it.
    5. Go back down the stream to the water slide and the infamous waterfall #2! Which is BY FAR the hardest to climb up if you come from the bottom. But no big deal if you come down it.
    6. Follow the stream down to waterfall #1.
    7. Once down at the bottom, follow the stream down a little ways down right before the open section with the white rocks, if you look on the left side, there is a wall to climb with ropes! Once down from the falls, CLIMBING UP THE ROPES IN THE ONLY WAY TO GET OUT OF THE CANYON WITHOUT TRESPASSING! You’re risking a ticket if you follow the crowd up the dirt trail or down and around the stream.
    8. Rock climb it up the side of the mountain back to the start of the trail!!! You won’t regret it! It’s a fun climb, just take your time and watch your footing, also watch out for people coming down!!!

    There’s my 2 cents!!!! 🙂

    • josh

      Angelica, thanks so much for the great information! I’m sure it will help many people be able to explore this area without a ticket as it is a great write up!

  • Laura

    i went today. We asked an officer if we could park on almond and he said yes, we came back and our car was fine.There is two way to get the trail that leads to the stream, take the curved road where the houses are and you wont get a ticket. We made sure to ask the officer that was there. The hike is definitely not for everyone because of the steepness. its about 2 miles there and another 2 back. And if you are going during the summer take water! it gets really hot. and be ready to walk through the river that leads to the falls, so take comfortable shoes.

  • Did this hike 8-11-12

    This is an excellent hike. The graffiti and trash disgusts me, my group bagged out 5 full contractor bags of trash, so sad.

    We walked up the fire road (Big Tree Road) approximately 2 miles to what the city calls the stream crossing Which is a concrete bridge sor of at the top of the wash. Travelled down the stream to the bottom. Unfortunatel we decided to trespass at the end, but the legal way is to go back up the way you came and follow the fire road back the way you came.

    Either way, it is an awesome hike, not very difficult, beautiful waterfalls and pools to play in.

    We parked on Almond right at the intersection of Almond and Skyline and were fine.

    More details on my Hiking FB page (lookup Weekend Hikes on Facebook)
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/weekend.hikes.1

    Here is the route we took
    http://www.everytrail.co…

    Here is the letter i received from the city
    In case anyone is planning on checking out Sapphire Falls. Here is the official word from the City of Rancho Cucamonga.

    I don’t have a more detailed map for you, but the trail to take to the Falls is Skyline Road (the only legal trail that is). It goes all the way up to a place called Stream Crossing (for obvious reasons) and once you get to that point, you follow the stream back down to the falls. It is long hike and hilly and you need to be careful to hike out the same way you came in because if you go to the bottom of the falls and try to follow the stream out at the south end you will be trespassing in the wash. The hike is a good 90 minutes each way to the falls, probably about 4-5 miles. Because the falls are inside the National Forest, and outside our City limits, I don’t have any actual maps that show them. You can probably see them on Google earth and any good hiking map of the San Bernardino foothills will also show…where they are.

    John R. Gillison
    City Manager
    City of Rancho Cucamonga

    • Thanks for the great comment and for the link to all the pictures! I loved looking through them, it looks like you guys really had a great time!

  • Alzeno

    I’m planning to do this hike with my friends this saturday and I’m kinda worried where to park my vehicle without getting a fine. Does anyone knows where exactly is the parking location? And can someone tell me which trail to take to the falls without getting a ticket? Thanks!

    • Angelica B.

      You can park anywhere on Almond street now or Sapphire st, just don’t
      park too close to a fire hidrant! We watched a cop give a car a ticket
      for being too close to a curb as well. Either side of Almond street
      is a-ok. However, they recently, I”m not sure how long, but I was out
      there a couple weeks ago, made Henry St around the corner permit
      parking! So read the signs. There are parking police EVERYWHERE NOW.

  • BYRON

    I DID THE HIKE IN LATE SEPTEMBER 2012 I TOOK THE OLD ROUTE AS I WAS NOT AWARE OF THE NO TRESPASSING. I DID PARK ON ALMOND QUITE ENJOYED THE HIKE UP THE FALLS. THE TRASH AND GRAFFITI REALLY KILL IT FOR ME.

  • Cameron

    It’s a bit of a drive, but Cooper Canyon Falls is still clean, no graffiti and easy to get to. It’s down the road fro Mt Waterman.
    http://www.world-of-waterfalls.com/california-cooper-canyon-falls.html

  • JMS

    There are more than just 2 waterfalls, there are a total of 4 main waterfalls. The first one has a small natural waterslide the second is a fallen down log that lead up to a good size pool of water, the third is the one that has the main waterslide, the fourth waterfall is past the big waterslide and back further the trail will split into to trails stay on the left and you will be heading up to a point called “Big Pool”, it used to be a water fall but it was dammed up but you can still climb the big rock and jump off of it.

    • Thanks for the comment and the info on the upper falls! I have not been to any of them but I will add that to the list to do!

    • Angelica B.

      Yes, JMS is right, if you’re going up the falls, past waterfall #2, continue on the trail and make a LEFT when you can, that will lead you to waterfalls #3 and #4, (You have to climb up #3 to see #4! A lot of people miss it because you have to know it’s there to see the trail.

      If you’re coming in from the top and going down the falls, it’s almost immediately when you see the huge log, make a RIGHT, that will lead you to the remaining falls!

      Then once you’ve seen them, come back down to the trail and continue your hike.

      • Thanks for the update!

      • Jordan Castillo

        There are even more falls than these ones! However, reaching them requires a great deal of off-trail hiking, often times directly in the river. Taking the trail from Skyline until it ends at a bridge, you can then hop in the river (or next to it, but you’re going to get wet either way) and head either downstream or upstream. If you head downstream maybe a quarter mile, you will come upon a convergence in the stream. From this point, head up the stream you did not originally come from. This will lead to a 12-18 foot fall, depending on rainfall. There is very little graffiti at this waterfall as it is far less known than the one’s frequented and described in this article. This waterfall also has a rope which can be used to climb to the top of the waterfall, but its directly in the stream, and is almost a vertical climb. Not particularly safe, but you can see an entirely different area than what most people see when they visit Sapphire Falls.

        Alternately, instead of following the river downstream from the bridge, follow it upstream. Again, you will mostly be walking in/through the river and you are almost certainly going to get wet. About 1/2-1 mile (I think… I’ve really never measured it) upstream (the fire pit is about half-way!), you will come upon a large (15 feet in diameter, 4 or 5 feet deep?) pool and another beautiful waterfall (15-20 feet). This area shows absolutely no signs of human influence — pure, unkempt nature. With a bit of caution, you can get to the top of this waterfall fairly easily, as there are some rocks you climb to a nearby tree where there is a very large trunk laying across to the rocks where the water falls from. I don’t suggest anyone do it as you can easily be hurt (and there is no cell phone reception, and you’re quite far from the trail, and there is no quick way back should an emergency arise, etc.), but with very little time and effort, you can pretty easily get to the top of this waterfall, and the area above it opens up beautifully. Loads of thin trees litter the area surrounding the river, and you’re completely enveloped in the mountains, suddenly feeling quite a ways from the fast, artificial, urban life that isn’t more than two miles away.

        Hiking to these waterfalls is one of my favorite hikes largely because reaching these falls, while not difficult, is entirely off-trail which is more than enough deterrent for most people. I have been to the falls described in the article, but after seeing the ones I just described, I really have no interest in ever visiting those ones again. Too many people, too much trash, too much graffiti. The ones I described are far more secluded (especially the second one!) and attractive.

        I’ve also heard that beyond the second waterfall, there is a 50 footer. I have neither seen it nor heard any credible source indicate its existence, but that’s not going to stop me from looking for it.

        • Thanks for this comment Jordan, there is a ton of great info in it!

    • Bryon Harris

      There’s a 5th one right behind the 4th. There’s also a tunnel before the 1st waterfall if you’re taking the now illegal way.

  • George Ranks

    This waterfall is in TERRIBLE shape. There is way to much garbage in the canyon. With so many people in this canyon, most of which are inexperienced hikers, I would be very weary about getting any water in your mouth or ears because of the fecal bacteria in the creek. This is probably the most despoiled hike in Southern California. I wrote a recent post about it two weeks ago. http://southcaladventures.blogspot.com/2013/07/sapphire-falls-rancho-cucamonga.html

    • Thanks for the update. I haven’t been in a while and last year they changed the route to make it harder for people to get to. Maybe that kept out the people that actually clean up and stuff but didn’t deter the ones that continue to trash and destroy it. Sad to hear.

  • LS

    Cucamonga Canyon (which includes Sapphire Falls) is now closed by order of the U.S. Forest Service (effective 8/23/2013) until further notice due to extreme fire hazard. Fines for trespassing can be up to $5,000 and include jail time. This is a serious closure due to conditions.

  • So, the Canyon is shut down and while it is I am teaming up with local officials for a clean-up on Oct. 5. We can use all the help we can get so if you would like to see this canyon cleaned up as much as I do please reach out to me. I have more information here:

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=608802449161994&set=a.603944132981159.1073741829.599852866723619&type=1

    • Justin, this is a great idea! Thanks for your hard work on this and I hope others come out to support you. I wish I was able to but I will be out of town.

    • Bryon Harris

      Will it be opening when it’s finished being cleaned?

  • kchriss

    I just tried to go to the falls on 6/25/2014 with my girlfriend who has been to the falls before….. the whole area is closed and the only way to get to the water is on a forest service road and it crosses the water and that is the only part of water you can touch without a 5k fine….. they watch the are all the time to bust you…. the service road is very strenuous for the little out come of water isn’t worth it….. and you have to part really far away because of the private property….. Sad that a few bad seeds ruin it for everyone else…….

    • Thanks for the comment, I am sure it will help other adventurers decide whether or not it is worth it.