Escondido Falls: A Beautiful Malibu Waterfall

When researching what to do in Malibu, one thing came up over and over again, hike to Escondido Falls; honestly after spending a day there, I can say without a doubt that Escondido Falls is a great adventure and one I would highly recommend. It is no often that you see a three tiered waterfall, one that gets better and better with each tier you climb to.

Getting There

Parking for this hike is in the small lot on Winding Road off PCH or simply on PCH itself if the lot is full, as it was for us when we journeyed there. Make sure you select the right Winding Road because there are two, one after another and you can save yourself quite a few u-turns if you get on the right one first. If you are coming from Los Angeles, this seems to be the first one. After you park on PCH you can simply start walking up the road to start your trek to Escondido Falls.

Rich Houses

The first mile of this trail winds you around a residential road that showcases many of the imense mansions located in Malibu Hills. There are houses with huge pools, tennis courts, horses and even a batting cage, all with spectacular views of the ocean just outside their window. This part of the trail alone was an interesting trek with lots of eye candy. Once you reach the end of the road you will see a sign that marks the start of the actual trail.

The Trail

From here you will walk through about a mile and a half of foliage, small river crossings, and beautiful trees. It is a nice leasurly hike that has a good amount of shaded protection almost the entire way. I was a fan of this part of the hike as it is nice to see all of the natural elemetns while being so close to a city still. I do imagine this trail being more intense after it rains as the river crossings would be worse and the trail itself would be muddy. After walking for about 1.5 miles you make it to first falls.

The First Escondido Falls

If all you do is make it to the first falls, the hike is still worth it, but if you are up for an adventure, the third waterfall is really where the beauty is at. The first waterfall for us actually had just a trickle of water and smelled really bad, so we quickly start the trek up to the second and third waterfalls.

Getting to the Second and Third Waterfalls

If you are planning to go to the others be careful, it can be really dangerous after the rain or even during the dry season. The climb is up to the right of the first falls and it is a lot steeper then the climb there. You will also be crossing some narrow ledges and using a rope to pull yourself up past some of the sketchier areas. That being said if you can make it, the trail will reward you.

After most of the intense parts you will reach the second waterfall. This had more water then the first for us, but was only about 15 feet high. Continue on over more rocks and scrambling and you will reach the third falls.

The Main Escondido Falls

The third falls is the real gem here. It is truely one of the best waterfalls in Southern Calfiornia. Not only is it about 150 feet high, but it has a beautiful amount of plant life that lives on the falls and is something that really has to be expeirenced before you can beleive it. We spent every bit of 30 minutes just sitting beneath the falls and taking everythign in, it was amazing.

Make sure you are smart when heading out here. We saw a man being pulled back in a strecher because he fell attempting to get to the upper area. Remember, it is not worth hurting yourself over, so only attempt if you are sure the trail is good.

What about you have you been to this waterfall? Did you like it as much as I did?

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  • Beautiful images, thanks for sharing them. Looks like a great place to be.

  • Kenneth C. Bae

    Dear Martina,

    Thanks for your comment on the Escondido Fall in Malibu.

    I am scheduled to visit the Fall tomorrow(June 1st), for which
    please furnish me with further sharings, if any.

    Thanks in advance.



  • Great shots! Wish I had gone there while I lived in Cali

    • Thanks I appreciate it! There is always a reason to come back to Cali 🙂 I like your site too!

  • wEEZER66

    I would have never known about any of these places….thanks for sharing…
    I would love to shoot some infrared at the falls…perfect for it.

  • nanonerd

    What a super cool hike!

    To add more info: from parking area, the hike is about 1 hr 15 min to get to the 3rd waterfall. Add in some rest/view time, and it’s a good 2.45 – 3 hr hike round trip … But it’s not flat terrain. You will have to go up and down some good sized hills and some parts are pretty steep (you have to grab branches, ropes) … it seems a bit challenging but it’s all manageable. Lots of people take dogs and one group had a bunch of young kids (8-10 yrs) and they all managed it.

    Once you get to the first waterfall, getting to the third one is only about another 15 min up some rocky areas, but definitely worth it. We went on Thanksgiving and the 2nd waterfall was completely dried up. From here, just keep climbing up and another 5 min later, you will reach the 3rd waterfall.

    It would be good to have signs posed in some areas but somehow, we managed and also, you can always ask the people coming back which way to go, how far, etc. One note, after the first waterfall, if you keep going up, you will come to a steep section with rope to assist your climb. When you get to the top of this section, go left. I talked to someone coming down from the right side and they said that they climbed to the top but there was no waterfall.

    Lastly, if you want more info, go to … there’s a lot of comments there …

    Enjoy … 😉

    • Thanks for the great recap and info!

  • Don

    We hiked to the falls. The falls was turned off. That was two years ago.