Accessed from Pacific Coast Highway about a mile south of Kanan Road in Malibu, the trail through Escondido Canyon Natural Area leads hikers (dogs on leash are welcome), mountain bikers, and equestrians 4.2 miles through oak woodland, riparian woodland, and Coastal sage scrub to the spectacular, multi-tiered 150-foot Escondido Falls—the highest in the Santa Monica Mountains. Allow yourself at least two hours to enjoy this trail and spectacular waterfall (during rainy season). The waterfall is dependent on rainfall, and is minimal or non-existent during dry weather. Please note that there are no bathroom facilities beyond the parking lot at PCH. Escondido Canyon is a high fire risk zone. Smoking and open fires are prohibited and punishable by fines.
From the parking, follow the trail along the paved road about a mile. Please stay on the trail for your safety along this winding road with multiple blind curves. At the Escondido Canyon Trailhead sign at the top of a meadow to your left, head down into the canyon. You will cross Escondido Creek (dry seasonally) and head to the left to reach the waterfall. The trail criss-crosses the creek several times. A mile into the trail you will reach the base of the waterfall. This is the lower tier of the huge limestone fall. The public parkland ends here. The upper falls are located on private property and are not open to the public. Hikers are asked NOT to climb to the upper falls to preserve the fragile habitat and to avoid the risk of serious fall injuries.
Directions: The parking lot is on Winding Way East at Pacific Coast Highway. Park cars here and walk north on the trail along Winding Way East (private road) to the dirt trail that starts at the end of the paved road. There is no parking beyond the lot at PCH. Parking is also available on PCH.