Normally this is a 1.8 mile round trip hike - but I started on E Loma Alta and walked up to the trailhead at Rubio Vista Road. This extra walk made this a 3.6 mile roundtrip with an elevation gain of 883 feet.
Here is a link to the full hike with details.
I love this trail because it is not heavily trafficked and within minutes you are secluded in a quiet, peaceful canyon. Based on the map below - I essentially took the A, B and E portions of the trail to the overlook of Thalehaha Falls. I guess that is why E is called the Overlook Trail on the map.
The first 1/2 of the trail is very easy and very clearly marked. You will be on the left side of the canyon.
Very quickly you will notice that you are at least 80' above the canyon floor on the right.
After about a half mile you will come across ruins and concrete pillars / foundations. This is what is left of the Incline that used to take people up to Echo Mountain. If you reference the map above that would the trail labeled F. I hear that hikers can take the 1,300' elevation gain from this point and get to Echo Mountain - but I can't imagine how difficult that would be due to the steepness of the incline.
Shortly after the incline ruins - the trail starts to get very rocky as it winds its way up the canyon on what is essentially the riverbed. After about 1/4 mile you will arrive at the Moss Grotto and Ribbon Rock Falls. It is very peaceful here. In the Summer there is barely a trickle of spring water on the granite rocks - but in the Winter you'll often see a healthy pour of water coming down into a small pool.
The Moss Grotto is where most folks end their hikes and they turn around and head back to the trailhead to complete a 1.5 mile round trip. But if you are a bit more adventurous and not afraid of heights then you should make your way further up the canyon trail to overlook Thalehaha Falls.
To do this, you'll walk up the scree and scramble up some rocks and eventually make a left on a trail that takes you up a steep and narrow path that leads to a rocky outcropping. Make your way to the top and you will be rewarded with a magnificent view of Thalehaha Falls (approximately 80' high) and Roaring Rift Falls right below it (~25'). Combined - the Falls are over 100'.
Don't forget to look behind you to also see a stunning view of Los Angeles all the way to the ocean.
Apparently there is another 100' waterfall (Leontine Falls) that is further up the trail. I didn't have the time nor energy to make that trek - it looks very steep to get up there - and it is just to get a peek at the Falls - not sure its worth it.
It is hard to believe that you can access waterfalls like this in less than 45 mins from the suburbs of Los Angeles.
While I was looking at Thalehaha Falls there were three rapellers coming down that I got on film. My heart was racing just watching them!
My research yielded a lot of history with this canyon - including the fact that the Falls all disappeared as a result of earthquakes and rains for many years. The heavy rains of 2004 cleared the Falls again. For decades - people were hiking up to these upper waterfalls and even built staircase structures to make it easier to access.
I'm grateful that we have access to trails, mountains and waterfalls within minutes of my house.