06-Nov-2016: There were no specific plans for today but we wanted to go somewhere hiking. We have been doing hiking since some time and so decided to keep the momentum. One thing which had been missing from our sojourns here has been waterfalls (leave aside the Niagara!) as there aren’t many. Also we were passing through one of the longest drought’s in California’s history and even the reservoirs were empty, so waterfalls was long shot. But in our research on the places to go around we found this location called Eaton waterfalls which is located in the Angeles forest north east of LA. Per the latest blogs we read on the net it had water at that point in time and so even if the place was bit far away we decided to head there.
We had to leave really early considering the early sunsets during this time of the year, but as usual we got bit late and started only around 9:30 am. G had plans to have sandwiches there for lunch and so she packed veggies, bread, etc along with other snacks items and juice. Eaton falls is located close to Altadena and which was over 70 miles from our place and took us well over 2 hours to reach. The route you take is I-405 N and then onto I-605 N and take exit at Altadena Dr. The weather was quite cold and it was going to be an interesting day. The traffic was light and we enjoyed the drive.
As we exited the Altadena Dr, from here to the destination was small road passing through few towns. I was not happy with the direction GPS was showing as in the map I could see a better route so I changed to Google maps on my mobile. Its quite intriguing that each app show different paths and one is better than the other on its day! So we thought we were now on the right path and had now entered the foothills which had winding roads. This part was even colder due to hills and good forest cover. It felt nice being there.
We somehow missed the entrance, blame the GPS ;). But I think it was G who had spotted the entrance on the way and so we rerouted and after some winding turns and reached the entrance. There is a big entry gate for the Eton Canyon Natural Area Park and they have nice gardens, a museum about the local habitat and people, a small picnic area and big parking lot. It was almost 12:00 pm and we were running bit late. We were hungry too! So we first got a table, cleaned it up a bit and opened our bag to prepare some yummy sandwiches. Sitting under a big tree and in the middle of a jungle we had nice lunch. It was already 2:00 pm and we had to get going as we had to start back and pass LA before dark, though we were bit lazy after nice lunch and won’t have minded for a nice nap 🙂
We filled our backpacks, had juice and started the hike. There are many small hills around here and many marked trails. So initially it appeared to be a plain hike and we were not sure if coming all the way down here was worth it. One another thing which I remember was using Google maps a lot to find the falls as there are many forks to the trail and sometimes it can be bit confusing. After continuing the walk we all were pretty bored and decided that lets turn back after walking for 5 more mins. Our map was showing the fall around 2 miles from here, but the hike looked so plain and vegetation mostly dry, we were not excited to continue. But in some time the hike completely transformed as we entered a dense forest, it was colder here, but was nice to hike. We then passed under a bridge, which was one of the oldest in the area and is called bridge to nowhere and is quite famous. It used to connect Altadena to some hamlet I think, but is no longer in active use.
And then we heard something.. a sweet sound.. off course it was unmistakably a stream. From here on it becomes real fun, kind of adventure, bit difficult to put down in words. There was small gorge formed here, stream traversing through it and all around us was thick forest cover. We rested here a bit to enjoy the scenery which was looked as if it had come out of a painting. There were couple of logs fallen on the stream path and we all sat on one, water flowing past and below us. Now was the real hike was starting.
From here on you just keep following the stream, which is fairly wide in size and under drought condition still had lots of water. Upstream from here is the waterfall and this stream would have it sources in the Angeles mountain. The stream was following a serpentine path and there are few places where you keep crisscrossing it. At the points where you have to cross it, the stream is like a small river, they have placed big stones or wood log etc and its so fun to step on them to cross, I think the most happy here was Ar. There were fair number of people around and at these points there used to be a small jam as only 1-2 people could cross at a time. We could just imagine what this place would be like once it rains nicely!
As you start approaching the fall, the small stones, rocks on the path turn into big boulders and the water flows underneath or through the gaps. The boulders are pretty big some over a meter in height and give you nice calf and joint exercise. No doubt Ar was doing nice through out, but in this section with only little help she was at ease and was negotiating the trail nicely and enjoying it. Finally we could hear the fall and though we were bit tired, we rushed though the last few rocks.
The water falls from fair height and there are in fact 2 falls here. The upper falls which is closed for public access and the lower falls where we were. We all love the sound of the falls and all our hard work and persistence was worth it. The water slides down the stones and it has created a small pool or pond at the base. There were so many people around but it still felt so quite. We were in middle of jungle on the foothills along the falls. The water was cold though, so I and G stayed away, but as Ar got going, she even would have dived in it 🙂 She was not ready to come out of it and was enjoying the splash, but finally what brought her out may have been the juice bottle which G pulled from the backpack. Sitting on the rocks we ate and had juice.
It was such a nice place that our feet were not turning back. But it was around 3:30 pm and was getting dark and so we had to start back. We had planned to be part of or follow some group as on the way we had encountered multiple paths and we were bit concerned about getting lost (yeah!) amid my mobile also having low battery. But as no one seemed ready to move on (neither were we!), we got going. We kept following the stream and on the intersections we were trying to remember which was the right path. We did fairly well; though at couple of points we were having second thoughts, but G showed the way. There was one point where there is this small cave, which looked quite old, may have been used by early settlers here! We could now see the sun going down the horizon which was such an amazing sight. On the way we talked a lot and also clicked many pics which we had avoided doing earlier (to conserve the mobile battery). Ar was in full speed and was racing with us. In the end we all were quite tired, but we enjoyed every bit of it.
We reached the base around 4:30 pm. We refreshed and also had a look at the museum which was quite nice. We had a long ride back and left around 5:00 pm. Not surprisingly we encountered heavy traffic en route and reached home around 8:00 pm. It had been a tiring day, but I can say that this was a gem of a place and one of the best hikes we had and we have had many!
PS:We would definitely return 🙂 . We also have to find more about the bridge to nowhere 🙂