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Photos: Hiking to Escondido Falls in Malibu

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Take a beautiful day after a rainy season to visit a local waterfall and you won't be disappointed. Of the six waterfalls in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Escondido Falls ("Hidden Falls") comes in at the tallest. Spanning 150 feet over multiple tiers, visiting this waterfall adds to the magic of living in the Los Angeles area.

Located in Malibu, about one mile south of Kanan Dume Road off Pacific Coast Highway, this moderate hike is an estimated 4.2 miles round trip. Because parking is only allowed in a lot off PCH, about half of the hike is along a residential road that offers views of the ocean and mountains. An easily identifiable trailhead will lead you to the falls along a relatively flat trail following Escondido Creek. It won't be long before arriving at the lower tier of the waterfall. This might be a "wow" moment, but the fun has only just begun. Anyone who has hiked this trail will tell you to make the extra effort to see the upper tier.

A steep trail--get ready to use your hands--can be found off to the right of the waterfall (there are actually two ways up, an extremely steep route for crazy people found immediately to the right of the waterfall or the much easier, yet still steep, official trail a little further to the right). As you make your way up, you'll come upon a set of small waterfalls, but keep going. Eventually, you'll make it to the upper tier, a perfect place to chill out, play and eat lunch. While this is where most all hikers stop before turning around, a trail to the right of the fall will lead you to the top. But be warned, this is the most dangerous part, complete with loose soil and rocks and very steep portions.

To get there, turn from PCH onto Winding Way Road (not the nearby West Winding Way Road). Park in the lot and begin hiking towards the mountains about one mile. The Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority, which maintain the property, has a webpage for this hike that includes a map and directions PDF.