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Beat the Heat: Hike To These 5 Beautiful Waterfalls

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By David Lockeretz of Nobody Hikes in L.A. / Special to LAist

For many people, waterfalls are found in Yosemite, Sequoia, and the Smoky Mountains…but not in Southern California. And even savvy L.A. hikers who know of Holy Jim, Sturtevant and the other famous waterfalls in the area probably don't associate them with Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Yet some of Southern California's most impressive cascades can be found just beyond the edge of the Inland Empire. If you are looking for some places to beat the notorious summer heat of the "I.E.", try these ones out for size.

Big Falls — This, Southern California's tallest year-round waterfall, lives up to its name. Located in the foothills of the San Gorgonio Wilderness, Big Falls can be reached with a short hike that includes a scramble across Mill Creek (be careful!) For more information about the hike, check out this site.

Bonita Canyon Falls — Another one of SoCal's tallest waterfalls, Bonita Canyon sits at the eastern edge of the San Gabriel Mountains, not far from I-15. Navigation and terrain can be a little challenging here, and there's an unfortunate amount of trash and graffiti, but the waterfall is quite impressive and well worth the visit. Go here for more info.

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Etiwanda Falls — To be sure, you'll want to bring your sun hat and sunblock, as the route is almost entirely exposed. The majority of the trip might not seem that promising, but hang in there and you'll be rewarded for your efforts with a view of an impressive cascade that flows almost all year long, fed from streams in the mountains high above. You can find more info about the hike here.

Heart Rock Falls — This 25-footer might be down to a trickle by the end of the summer, but no matter how much water there is, the most impressive feature will always be visible. Heart Rock is named after a naturally occurring bowl that bears a striking resemblance to a heart. The walk through the woods in the western San Bernardino Mountains is very enjoyable as well. For more info about this hike, visit this website.

San Antonio Falls — On the flank of Mt. Baldy, San Antonio Falls can be reached with a short drive from the Claremont area and a 3/4 mile walk on a service road. On the way to the 80-foot waterfall, you'll enjoy great views of the Inland Empire and San Gabriel Valley. For more info, go here.

So there you have it: five sure-fire ways to beat the heat and explore SoCal's natural side. No fighting national park crowds required!

Check out these other hikes in Southern California