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Cooper Canyon Falls Out and Back

  4.4 ( 5 ) Favorite


3.8 mile 6.2 kilometer out and back
83% Runnable


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

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 run 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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  4.4 from 5 votes


  4.4 from 5 votes
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1,155 Since Jun 18, 2016



Cooper Canyon Falls in late spring.
Jun 14, 2016 near Wrightwood, CA
Looking down into the creek from the trail
May 21, 2015 near Wrightwood, CA
The climb to Buckhorn Campground
May 21, 2015 near Azusa, CA
Traveling down the Burkhart Trail between Buckhorn Campground and Cooper Canyon.
Jul 1, 2016 near Azusa, CA


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