Hiking the Tahquitz Canyon Trail in Palm Springs, California
Tahquitz Canyon is a sacred area for the Agua Caliente tribe, named after a powerful shaman. It’s said that his spirit continues to live in the canyon and the mountain today, triggering unexplained natural phenomena at times.
Once you get into the canyon, it’s easy to see why the tribe’s ancestors sought refuge in this beautiful canyon during the hot summer months in the desert. A stream flows mostly year-round alongside the trail for most of the mile-long journey to the falls. The waterfall itself is a powerful 80-foot wonder that drops into a pool at the base of the mountain. You can swim in the pool for as long as you can endure the chilly water.
The hike to the falls gains about 300 feet in elevation, and due to the area’s sacred status, the tribe asks hikers to stay on designated trails.
There is an admission fee to gain entrance to the trail, and you can hike it on your own or join a guided tour.
Butterfly on the Santa Ynez Waterfall Trail in Topanga State Park, California
The Santa Ynez Waterfall Trail, which is part of Topanga State Park, is a relatively flat (300 feet in elevation gain) and easy trail that starts above the town of Pacific Palisades and leads to the waterfall in the name, a trip of about 2.25 miles round trip.
It is a good trail for kids, but watch out for the plentiful patches of poison oak lining the trail, often very close to the walking path. There is a trail junction about half a mile from the trailhead. One path leads to the waterfall, while the other heads to Trippet Ranch and the Musch Trail to Eagle Rock, a steep strenuous hike of about 3.5 miles from this point.
Thanks to California’s ongoing drought, the waterfall was fairly disappointing as of Spring 2016. There is a trickle of water bouncing down the rocks, and at the base are several small pools that contain newts.
This is an out-and-back trail so once you’ve had your fill of the falls, simply turn around and head back to the trailhead via the same route (while continuing to watch out for all that poison oak).