Temescal Canyon Hike

Temescal Canyon is probably my favorite location to hike that is close to my home. There is a lot of lush greenery and beautiful trees occupy space wherever you look. The trails in Temescal are mostly hiking “trails” instead of fireroads, which is a bonus for me as I don’t really feel like I’m hiking as much if I’m on a fireroad. My favorite trail is the one leading past the waterfall to Skull Rock. This so happens to be the same trail that I took this past weekend when I went hiking with some friends.

We all gathered in front of the bathrooms by the parking lot at a table that is under the trees to get together and double-check our gear, and perhaps more important for some, our snacks. I had all of my supplies ready to go in my REI Flash 18 Pack and after everyone arrived and was ready, we were ready to hit the trail.

We walked to the trailhead called “Temescal Canyon Trail” and began our way up the trail, heading for the waterfall and Skull Rock.Hiking along the trail, you’ll see a  preschool and then a little later on, a debris barrier. Behind this barrier is an open grass area with small clusters of oak trees. Families tend to stop in this area for a picnic and to let the kids play around. Continuing past this area, you’ll soon pass a cement platform. I never really know what this platform is for. Is it a stage? A foundation for a house long gone? I don’t know. Maybe you’ll find out.

Anyway, after passing this structure, you’ll hike for a few minutes along a fireroad before once again hiking on a trail. The trail is not that hard to hike on, with a few ups and downs. If you look around, you’ll see tall sycamore, oak, and maple trees growing up around you. In fall, the trees are covered in leaves and are very beautiful. Soon you’ll start heading uphill and gaining more altitude.

After walking through cooling trees and some moments of hot sun, we finally made it to the waterfall. Unfortunately, this is a seasonal waterfall and on the day of our hike, the “waterfall” was more of a “trickle of water that creeps down the rocks”. Usually there isn’t exactly a cascade of roaring water, so I wasn’t that disappointed. Looking around, sitting in the shade are large boulders, shallow ponds, and a few mini waterfalls between the rocks here and there. We unpacked a few snacks and stopped to rest and take a few pictures. Too soon we were ready to be on our way.

After finishing at the waterfall, we crossed the footbridge and continued uphill through the trees towards Skull Rock. Eventually, we came out of the canyon and started hiking in the open on a thin trail called the “Temescal Ridge Trail”. From this trail, you can see big, expensive homes to one side and Los Angeles to the other. On a clear day, it is also possible to see Catalina Island. Since we were short on time, we couldn’t go all of the way to Skull Rock, but having been there myself before, I can tell you about the place. At Skull Rock, leave the trail and scramble up to the side of Skull Rock not visible from the trail. You’ll see a small crawl space in the side of the rock. Crawl through here and you end up sitting in the “eye” of Skull Rock. Let me tell you; it’s really cool. You can then sit there and relax and maybe eat some snacks and drink some water.

Anyway, after turning around, we continued back the way we came until we got to the Temescal Canyon Trail leading back to the waterfall. Instead of taking this trail, we took the trail to the left, “Viewpoint Trail”. This goes up and down for a while before starting to go down in elevation. We walked though the trees and hiked along switchbacks for almost the complete rest of the way back to the trailhead.

We went back to the table we started at and said our goodbyes. After completing one of my favorite hikes, I was happily content. I got a great hike in and got to take some nice pictures (not top-of-the-line pictures, though) If you are ever near Temescal Canyon, I highly recommend adding this hike as a must to your list of To-Do’s.


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