This is one of the biggest waterfalls in Southern California—a two-tiered, 150-foot cascade that pours down a series of limestone rocks covered in bright-green moss. You’ll start on Winding Way East, a private road in the Malibu hills that takes you uphill past ocean-view estates. After about half a mile the road will head downhill and there will be a clearly marked path to the left. This is the Escondido Canyon Trail, an adventurous path that crisscrosses streams—so be prepared for some serious rock-hopping.
About a mile in, you’ll reach the Lower Escondido Falls, which are lovely on their own—at 50 feet they rival any of the other waterfalls on this list. This is a good place for a breather, or for the less sure-of-foot it’s a lovely ending point. Everyone else should continue upwards via a clear route to the right of the falls (we suggest you opt for the official route—the other one is definitely dangerous!) for a steep climb that will take you to the Upper Escondido Falls. There’s a guide rope to help you pull yourself along, but be mindful of the slippery rocks. This path will take you under part of the lower waterfall and over more boulders until you reach the main event, a majestic tiered cascade that fans over moss-grown outcroppings.
On a hot day there’s no better reward than wading into the pool—there will probably be a couple of dogs already paddling around!—or just stand behind the waterfall letting the cool spray hit your skin.
Address: 27200 Winding Way
Trailhead: Park at the lot on Winding Way East a Pacific Coast Highway. The trailhead starts on Winding Way Road, take the clearly marked path.
Pets? Dogs allowed on leashes
Length: ~3.8 miles
Time: 2 hrs