Millard Falls

Angeles National Forest, California

Trip Date: Saturday, July 6th, 2019
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 6th, 2019
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★☆(4/5)
Overall Difficulty Moderate
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 2.6 miles roundtrip
Time 2 hours
Terrain Hilly, 300 feet of elevation gain
Best Seasons All
Family Friendly No
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible No

Highlights

Hike Walkthrough

Possibly due to their rarity, waterfalls are a staple of Los Angeles hiking. Millard Falls provides the scenic destination you crave without having the massive crowds of other waterfalls like the nearby Eaton Canyon Falls. This hike is also a treat thanks to its ample shade, allowing you to hike in the part of the Angeles National Forest closest to the city even when temperatures are hot in the San Gabriel Valley. Look no further if you want a short, beautiful hike!

The trail starts by heading uphill on the paved forest road on the other side of the locked gate. At the crest of the hill, you'll pass barbed wire fencing on the right side and reach the viewpoint pictured below. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Santiago Peak in Orange County, and a sign at this location details some of the history of the Mt. Lowe Railway, an attempt to make the view from nearby Echo Mountain accessible to everyone that was eventually foiled by fire.

The hazy view of Altadena and beyond just before descending into Millard Canyon

The hazy view of Altadena and beyond just before descending into Millard Canyon

Continue by taking the narrow trail heading down into Millard Canyon found directly behind you as you stand at the viewpoint. The remainder of the trail is mostly shaded by oaks and other chaparral plants. After crossing underneath the powerlines, an opening in the brush reveals the view of Brown Mountain pictured below.
Brown Mountain and the San Gabriel Mountains from the trail

Brown Mountain and the San Gabriel Mountains from the trail

Tall grasses and scratchy brush line the trail, as pictured below. The grasses were so tall I often found myself lifting my arms to avoid touching something itchy or thorny. Poison oak is common in the spring and summer, so wearing pants is highly recommended.
Overgrown grasses line the trail

Overgrown grasses line the trail

On the final third of the descent into the canyon, you'll be able to enjoy views of the surrounding hills, green with chaparral trees and scrub as pictured below. It's a very Southern Californian scene with hills, valleys, and towering power lines.
Power lines and the lush foliage of Millard Canyon

Power lines and the lush foliage of Millard Canyon

The descent ends at Millard Campground, where you'll follow the path northwest through camp. Just past the pit toilet, the trail to the falls begins on the right. The remainder of the hike has a slight uphill grade following the creek under a cool, dense, riparian canopy. You'll pass two man-made waterfalls like the one pictured below just after the campground.
A small, man-made waterfall just outside Millard Campground

A small, man-made waterfall just outside Millard Campground

Closer to the falls, the dirt trail transitions to a field of water-eroded round rocks, and you'll cross the creek several times. Don't worry if you lose track of the trail; as long as you follow the creek, you'll eventually dead-end at the falls. Depending on the season, Millard Falls may look like a few thin trickles, like in the picture below taken in July, or more like a stereotypical waterfall in the winter or spring after heavy rainfall. There are plenty of boulders to relax on as you enjoy the sounds of water and watch as dogs, kids, and other people play in the shallow plunge pool.
The beautiful Millard Falls

The beautiful Millard Falls

Follow the same route on the return trip. You may dread the uphill climb (as I did), but the trail is surprisingly gradual. The uphill section is less than a mile, so it's over quickly (and you get to enjoy the view of Altadena once more).

Don't miss this hike near Los Angeles! You'll enjoy the all the waterfall views with fewer crowds. Let me know what you think in the comments section below and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!

Important Information

Dogs are allowed on leash. This particular route to the falls is not kid-friendly due to the uphill climb on the way out of the canyon, but you can also start from the campground at the bottom of Millard Canyon (assuming you can find a parking spot) for a kid-friendly 1.2-mile roundtrip hike. You can hike here in all seasons thanks to the low elevation and ample shade throughout the hike. This is a popular trail (but not as popular as other waterfalls), so start in the morning to ensure you can park!

Directions

From Pasadena, head west on Interstate 210 towards La Canada Flintridge. Take the exit for Lincoln Avenue, then turn right. Turn right onto Loma Alta Drive, then turn left onto Chaney Trail. Follow the road as it snakes uphill, then park by the locked gate (and most likely a few other cars) just before the road turns sharply left and starts heading into the canyon.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

A National Forest Adventure Pass ($5/day or $30/year) is required to park here; you can purchase one at a variety of locations throughout Southern California, online, by phone, or by mail -- see the Forest Service webpage for more information. Federal interagency passes are also accepted in lieu of the Adventure Pass. There are no facilities here, but there are restrooms further down the trail in the campground.

External Links

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