10 February 2013

Escondido Falls

Escondido Canyon Park

Santa Monica National Recreation Area

Locate the trail head.

I went out to see the waterfall in Escondido Canyon in Malibu again, joining a very large group of HIKEtheGEEK folks. The clouds over Malibu were looking very threatening, and thickened up as the group gathered, but weren't expected to deliver any water. Underneath them was feeling very cold for the middle of the day in southern California. I got a little history on the trail. The parking lot has only been there about six years and was put in to decrease the crazy amount of parking on PCH and a government agency had a little square of land there. No parking signs keep the cars off the side of the roads and the lot fills fairly quickly, so there is still plenty of parking out on the highway and it still gets a little crazy.

in the middle of a neighborhood
Thick clouds building over Malibu and the no parking signs along the roads.

We headed north along the road. Dirt trail is available on the shoulder for hikers to use. We followed it past manicured trees and exquisite grass fields with plastic cows. We passed working fields with horses grazing. Mostly we passed designed and slightly shaggy gardens eventually leading to massive houses.

walking through a Malibu neighborhood
Passing along the road through a neighborhood of mansions.

The road curves around and comes to a turnout where a sign tells the rules of the park. The route continues down the road a little further and splits off at a small sign and a large dirt track past another sign.

about 8 geeks headed down and a few unknowns coming up
A few of our crew finally as they are finally forced to leave pavement for the start of open space.

The trail was nice and solid this time. Crossing the creek, there was a little bit of flow, but not all that much. We glimpsed the top of the upper falls, but it wasn't noticeable as the fall. The grass on its tiers was brown and the water not noticeable.

waterfall top
A cleft in the rock that is the top of the upper waterfall, but no water is visible from this distance.

We quickly got to the lower waterfall. It wasn't dry, but there wasn't much water coming over either. Lots of dribbles all over the place, which has its own delight.

water dribbling over the lower waterfall surface
A dribble of water coming down over the lower waterfall.

the whole lower waterfall
The whole lower waterfall.

The group quickly turned its attention to the steep route up the side of the canyon to climb to the upper waterfall. A few quickly decided it would be a hard climb down and did not go far up the use trail. Most took the climb.

resting after a section of steep up and steep down
Looking down on a section with rope to help over a water seep as we pause after going along an alternate route up a steep bit and down a steeper bit.

rope bridge
The section of trail referred to as a rope bridge, although it is just a steep section with some rope to help people along.

trail along a ledge
My favorite bit of the use trail, the cute little ledge just before the cascade between the waterfalls.

We came to the cascade and crossed the creek. From there, it is a bit of a scramble up some rocks to get up. Secondary routes with slightly less scrambling also exist.

middle cascade
The central cascade, which is often referred to as another waterfall.

trail about to become scrambly
Heading up the trail, but pausing to decide how best to scramble up the rocks before us.

a last little bit of scrambling
Trees and rocks in the creek provide the last of the obstacles to getting to the upper waterfall.

The upper waterfall did turn out to have a little bit of water dribbling over it. Much of where it was green before had turned brown and not yet recovered. Again, I find it is too large to photograph in a single go.

bottom of the upper waterfall
The bottom of the upper waterfall.

top of the upper waterfall
Looking up at the dribbling, grass covered tiers of the upper waterfall.

some of the rocks and grasses to the side of the waterfall
Some little caves at the side, made of the lower tiers found there.

We climbed down again carefully and, near as I can tell, without mishaps. I took the roped section of trail on the way down. The rope seems to be tied up now so that it doesn't become muddy.

wild cucumber flowers, little white five pointed things
Some wild cucumber flowers were about the only things blooming.

On the way down, I took a smell of a few of the plants along the path. Surprisingly, most of them didn't smell quite right. The old man sage didn't even smell particularly nice and it always smells nice. There was some pineapple sage with its hint of the fruit, but a little something extra and wrong as well.

a nice big oak tree along the way
There are a few nice, big oaks with a nice spread for climbing along the way.

mushrooms in the foliage
A couple of mushrooms by the side of the trail.

looking back up the canyon
A last look up the canyon.

Getting back to the road, there was nothing left but to wander past the mansions with their hedges again.

mansions with their manicured hedges
A few of the big houses on a hillside.

©2013 Valerie Norton
Posted 11 Feb 2013

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