Escondido Falls Trail waterfall draws crowd to Malibu

Hikers take a moment to relax after the hike to Escondido Falls Trail on Sunday, Jan. 15. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

Social media inspires visitors to put on their hiking boots and explore the Santa Monica Mountains

Escondido Falls is a well-known hiking trail in Malibu, and after a rainstorm, it comes to life. Tucked between Malibu neighborhoods, the hike is easy for all ages. The trail starts at Edward Albert Escondido Canyon Trail and ends with a stunning and photo-worthy waterfall view. 

Rated to be one of the top 10 waterfalls to visit in Malibu and California, Escondido Falls is the perfect trail to hike to during the summer and especially during the winter. Better take a photo of your shoes now, because they won’t be that clean when you’re finished with this hike.

Hiking with friends is recommended but not required. You’ll meet people who are just adventurous and curious about the trail and the journey. 

Topanga resident Mallori Simko saw videos of the waterfall on the Malibu Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce Instagram account and wanted to bring her friends Cassidy Gard and Louise Houghton along. 

“How alive these mountains are and being a part of it,” Simko said about the Santa Monica Mountains. “It feels clear, it feels crispy, it feels alive.”

To be prepared, Simko said to bring snacks, proper shoes and warm socks for after.

“These creeks are abundant, and if you have the right filter bottle, we can drink this water,” Simko said.

Simko, like many other hikers, made sure her friends crossed the streams safely. 

Gard, a Topanga resident, is five months pregnant and decided to spend a day hiking with her friends instead of having a baby shower.

“My goal is to hike once a week,” she said.

Gard also brought her active 12-year-old pup Hazel to hike along as well.

“Her secret to her longevity is going on hikes,” Gard said. 

The Escondido waterfall has also been trending among places to visit in Los Angeles since the rainstorms began. Malibu Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce President and Chairman Chris Wizner has been hiking the trail and sharing videos on social media.

“The most magical time of the year to hike Malibu is the least expected time … that is when it rains the most since all our seasonal waterfalls and secret waterfalls come to life,” Wizner said in an email to The Malibu Times. “At first, my own wife thought I was a little crazy for being so excited to hike in the pouring rain, but when she heard of the adventure and saw the pictures, she was blown away.”

Wizner decided to hike Escondido Falls on Saturday, Jan. 14, with his mother and local Malibu resident Laure Williams and, to prepare, they made sure to dress ready to get soaking wet.

“Yes, no way you can avoid it. I had waterproof hiking boots, jeans that I didn’t mind getting dirty along with a heavy raincoat and hood,” Wizner said. “Walking down the first hill into the hike was super slippery, so you had to try and get off the mud and walk through the brush on the sides to have traction. Then, immediately about 500 feet in, you hit a stream crossing, and your only option is to walk right through it.”

Wizner described the streams to be about 1 foot deep and moving quickly. He recommends grabbing a hiking stick to cross the streams.

“Just before you get to that, make sure to look up and see the even larger upper Escondido Falls, which are spectacular; once you finally make it to the main Escondido Falls, it’s truly larger than life and mind-blowing,” Wizner said. “You feel the power of all that water and experience its magic. It’s really something this time of year.”

Wizner runs the Malibu Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce Instagram account and shared videos and Instagram stories while hiking and was blown away to see the reaction on social media.

“After all that hiking, being a social media savvy person, I posted our video to the Malibu Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce Instagram as a reel,” Wizner said. “I woke up just 10 hours later the next day and it had already gone viral to more than 3,500 views and over 50 shares … by the end of the day those numbers started doubling and continued to grow — it went viral! That is everything and I’m honored to be the spark of adventure to share the magic of Malibu with others.”

While trails have been safe to hike, rivers, and streams continue to rise even after the rain has stopped. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and Search and Rescue Team cautions hikers to be aware of their surroundings and refrain from hiking while storms are active.

Escondido Fall Trails parking lot is located at 27751 Pacific Coast Highway on Winding Way. Limited parking is available for $12; street parking is available on Pacific Coast Highway.