Best Damn Waterfall Hike in County Limits

Our eight-step guide to hiking Cooper Canyon Falls

By The Editors

The Best Damn Waterfall Hike in LA County
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14 April 2016

The total area of Los Angeles proper? More than 500 square miles.

It can make decamping to wilder parts seem a little daunting — unless you know where to look.

Venture an hour and change northeast of the city and you’ll find the Angeles National Forest, where the streams along the Buckhorn Trail are flowing and the Cooper Canyon Falls are, too.

This isn’t a trickle like you’d see in the Santa Monica Mountains or on the front range of the San Gabriels. No — this is a well-and-properly potent cascade.

We’ve got your marching orders, packing list, trail snacks and drive hacks included.

  1. Buy an Adventure Pass: $5.00 and beats a parking ticket.
  2. Pick up a decent pair of hiking boots for the season.
  3. At nearly two miles above sea level, the weather is about as predictable as a coin flip. In your day pack: a rain jacket, some layers and perhaps a bathing suit and a towel.
  4. Obviously, bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
  5. You’re gonna have a poor cell signal on the way in and out. Make your Road Tripping playlist available offline.  
  6. Picnic with Wax Paper. Because picnics are great, Wax Paper is on the way (map), and they make a tasty sandwich on bread that won’t get soggy.
  7. The trail starts at the end of the Buckhorn Campground and there’s lot right next to the trail. However, it’s closed until later this month so you’ll need to park in the day lot. This adds about 20 minutes to the hike; you’ve been warned.
  8. The trail is just over three miles, clearly marked and easy to follow. It’s also downhill all the way to the falls, which means it’ll be uphill back — pace yourself accordingly.
  9. Make it a longer day by adding either the trail to Devil’s Punchbowl or the Pacific Crest Trail.

And don’t forget to have a couple cold brews waiting on ice when you get home.

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