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Switzer Falls in Los Angeles

One of the most attractive waterfalls in Los Angeles County

Best time: November–April

Switzer Falls
Switzer Falls
Switzer Falls
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Switzer Falls is a picturesque waterfall located in San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles. Switzer Falls encompasses three sections. The upper part is mostly hidden and quite small with a drop of about 10 ft (3 m). The middle section is the most impressive with a drop of about 70 ft (21 m). While the lower section consists of two picturesque cascades dropping with a height of 40 ft (12 m).

The waterfall can be reached by an easy 4-mile (6.4-km) hike. The trailhead is located at the Switzer Picnic Area, off the Angeles Crest Highway. The trail leading down the canyon crosses the Arroyo Seco Stream a few times, which is not a big problem because it is rather shallow or dries out completely during the summer.

The hike also features the remains of Switzer-land resort that closed in the 1930s. The most prominent part of the abandoned camp is the chapel that has preserved quite well. The trail ends at the base of Lower Switzer Falls, but it's possible to hike further and get to Bear Canyon Campground.

When is the best time to visit Switzer Falls

The best chance to see Switzer Falls with some volume is the rainy winter season from November to April. However, during dry winters the waterfall can dry out completely. Early spring is usually a suitable time for a hike because crowds are still relatively small, it's not too hot, and Arroyo Seco is quite full. In the summer, the stream becomes weak, however, you can take advantage of the swimming holes.

Things to do at Switzer Falls

Arroyo Seco Canyon provides quite a few swimming opportunities. You'll see numerous small pools and waterfalls along the stream to enjoy during a hot summer day. Quite a few hiking trails can be found nearby. Extend your stay and take the Gabrelino Trail to Bear Canyon Camp to spend some more time outdoors.

Where to stay at Switzer Falls

Bear Canyon Campground is at about 4.5 miles (7.2-km) from the Switzer's Picnic Area. The campsite at an elevation of 3,400 ft (1,036 m) features picnic tables, campfire rings, and seasonal stream water. There are no restrooms, no trash service, or piped water available.

Practical info

When should one visit Switzer Falls?

Switzer Falls is best seen in the winter when there is rainfall between November and April. However, during drier winters, the waterfall may completely dry out. In early spring, visitors can hike in smaller crowds and enjoy the full Arroyo Seco. During the summer, while the stream can be weak, visitors can still swim in the various swimming holes. Show more

What are the various hiking trails close to Switzer Falls?

The area surrounding Switzer Falls hosts a handful of hiking trails of varying levels ranging from easy to difficult, with waterfall, stream, and abandoned camps. Some trails require an Adventure Pass, which can be bought online from National Forest Service or from outdoor retailers and visitor centers. The Gabrelino Trail, which leads to Bear Canyon Camp, is one such trail. Show more

How long is the trek to reach Switzer Falls?

The hiking trail to Switzer Falls is an easily traversable 4 miles (6.4 km) long one way, located at the Switzer Picnic Area, off the Angeles Crest Highway, and crosses the Arroyo Seco Stream several times. The hike's duration to Switzer Falls is around 1.5-2 hours, depending on individual fitness level and capability. Show more

What facilities are available at Bear Canyon Campground?

Bear Canyon Campground is located about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from the Switzer's Picnic Area and stands at an elevation of 3,400 ft (1,036 m). The fully shady and spacious campsite provides campfire rings, picnic tables, and seasonal stream water supply. Visitors should note that there is no trash service, restrooms, or piped water available. The campsite is also closed seasonally, and reservations are highly recommended. Show more

Are there opportunities for swimming in Arroyo Seco Canyon?

Yes, visitors can take advantage of various opportunities for swimming in the Arroyo Seco Canyon's numerous small pools and waterfalls during the summer season. Visitors are advised to exercise caution while swimming because sudden drops and slippery rocks can make swimming dangerous. Swimming near waterfalls is also prohibited; visitors should prioritize their safety and that of others. Show more

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