Hiking Switzer Falls & Bear Canyon

Highlights: Waterfalls, small cascades, lovely pools, wooded streamside trail, deep canyons

Near: Altadena, CA

Distance: 4.5 miles round trip

Elevation Gain: 650 ft

Hike Time: 2.5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Trail Condition: OK, but a few difficult spots

Switzer Falls is one of the most popular waterfall hikes in Los Angeles County. This is a relatively easy hike into one of the loveliest sections of the San Gabriel mountains. The hike meanders back and across the stream running down the spectacular Arroyo Seco Canyon.

The stream is lined with oaks and alder, with the water cascading over granite into mirror-like pools. The hike travels high above the 50 foot high Switzer falls, then drops back to the stream, where hikers can double back to stand at the base of the falls.

After seeing the falls, travel downstream to the intersection with Bear Canyon, and travel up this spectacularly wild, steep-walled canyon for another half mile or so to enjoy its wonders.

Some hikes can continue up Bear Canyon for 2 miles to Bear Camp.


From Interstate 210 in La Canada, take Highway 2 north and drive 10 miles to Switzer picnic area on the right. Descend to the parking area outside the campground. You will see a footbridge over the stream leading to the trailhead. (Lat:34.2663 Lon:-118.1436)