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Cooper Canyon Falls Out and Back

  4.3 ( 4 ) Favorite


3.8 mile 6.2 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 790' 241 m
Descent: -790' -241 m
High: 6,391' 1,948 m
Low: 5,609' 1,710 m


Avg Grade: 8% (4°)
Max Grade: 23% (13°)


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Descend into a canyon to see a popular waterfall in the high San Gabriel Mountains.

Jason Ethridge

Features River/Creek · Waterfall · Wildflowers

Family Friendly Popular destination for families staying in the campground.

No bicycles.


This short outing will take you down Buckhorn Canyon, past mountain springs, to Cooper Canyon and a beautiful waterfall. The trail can get very crowded on weekend afternoons (especially in the summertime).

Need to Know

Adventure Pass required to park at the Buckhorn Trailhead. Route is inside of the Pleasant View Ridge Wilderness. Keep the climb out of the canyon and the time of day in mind when planning your outing. Climbing out under the midday sun is not much fun.


After leaving the trailhead at Buckhorn Campground, the Burkhart Trail #10W02 works its way through some buckthorn before entering a mixed conifer forest. The route follows the western canyon wall above Buckhorn Creek and crosses a few seasonal mountain springs as it slowly descends toward the intersection of Cooper Canyon section of the Pacific Crest Trail.

As the canyon gets deeper, the trail opens up and becomes steeper and rocky. Just past the one mile mark the path turns west, away from Buckhorn Creek and starts descending along Cooper Canyon to a single switchback before reaching the canyon floor. Here the surroundings turn to a mix of conifer and deciduous forest along the creek bed. Stay right at the junction with the PCT. Now comes the tricky part: finding the waterfall. If it is early spring and the flow is high, you'll probably be able to track it down by sound. If it is a summer, or weekend, afternoon you'll be able to track it down by completely different sounds (popular place).

To reach the base of the falls, continue on the PCT to where it crosses Little Rock Creek. Go west (the direction you came) down the stream on a well used path then keep left at the fork and head upstream a short distance to the falls. Do not attempt to climb down the cliff face to reach the falls as this is both dangerous and causes damage to the slope and trail above it.

If you do this hike on an early weekday morning, you'll probably have the place all to yourself and enjoy a truly idyllic setting.

Flora & Fauna

Jeffrey, sugar pines, white fir and live oaks shade most of the route. Very nice incense cedars along Cooper Canyon. Alder trees shade the stream. In summer, watch for lemon lilies in the seeping springs along the Burkhart Trail #10W02.

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Mar 26, 2019
Lea Achim
Oct 22, 2018
Chase Lipovac
The trail is in good condition right now and well maintained, but the path from the river crossing back to the falls is overgrown 6mi
Oct 14, 2018
Derek Hewitt
Aug 17, 2018
Alex Gravley
Wandered up the trail bed and around the area a bit—dry but pretty! 7mi
May 28, 2018
Brendan Balcombe
Mar 25, 2018
Derek Hewitt
Burkhart campground is closed currently so you need to park in the day use area (adventure pass) or in the street and walk through the campground t…
May 26, 2017
Joel Venegas
May 28, 2016
Jason Ethridge

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 4 votes


  4.3 from 4 votes
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