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Chiquito Falls

A Roaring Good Hike to a Southern California Waterfall!

Reveling in the beauty surrounding Ortega Highway

In Southern California, waterfalls come and go with the rain. After a few rainy weeks in January 2019, my family (brother, parents, boyfriend, and, last but not least, dogs) decided to hike the Chiquito Falls Trail in the hopes of seeing the seasonal falls. We got up on a Saturday morning, made breakfast, and set up our backpacks and lunches for the hike. After a 30 minute drive on Ortega Highway, we arrived at the trailhead by 9:30 AM.

Myself and Stella enjoying the scenery

We piled out of the car and immediately started the hike. I walked our Border collie, Stella, and my brother had our Australian Shepherd, Apollo. The first section of the trail is a mile of the San Juan Loop Trail. The San Juan Loop section is a rocky trail with views of San Juan Falls. We hiked along this trail for about a mile before we reached the trailhead marker to Chiquito Falls.

At the trailhead marker, we turned left and crossed over the trickling San Juan Creek into lush oak woodland. For the next mile, we gradually gained elevation and relished in the shade provided by the oaks. We soon came to and crossed another small creek, which the dogs loved wading through.

Once across the creek, the trail steepens its ascent. As you hike out of the protective shade of the oak woodland, there is little protection from the sun. We prepared for the sun exposure by wearing hats and bringing plenty of water and sunscreen. According to trail maps, this section should be another 2.5 miles to Chiquito Falls. However, my Garmin watch tracked approximately 12 miles for the whole hike, plus it felt longer than 2.5 miles. Regardless, we all made it to Chiquito Falls and enjoyed our homemade lunches at the edge of the falls.


While the falls were not flowing as much as I had hoped, a stream of water flowed over the lip of the falls into a quaint pool. We enjoyed a brief rest while we ate our sandwiches and took pictures of the falls. Stella and Apollo ran through the stream preceding the falls and cooled their tired paws. After our break, we picked up our packs and headed back the way we came. The whole family made it back to the car and enjoyed a refreshingly cold beer.


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