Hiking to the Second Waterfall at Eaton Canyon? Officials Say Don't

U.S. Forest Service employees gather in the parking lot of Eaton Canyon Park and Nature Center | Photo: Zach Behrens/KCET

The videos on YouTube shows off its beauty: an exclusive waterfall and pool, perfect for swimming, sliding and cliff jumping (sometimes with a flip). It looks amazingly fun, and with its close proximity to Pasadena, Eaton Canyon Falls is a popular destination in the Angeles National Forest.

Then there are videos (like this) uploaded by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department showing cliff rescues of those who didn't quite make it up to or down from that second upper waterfall. In all, there were 60 rescues in Eaton Canyon in 2011 -- an unusually high number -- and a majority were of people trying to unsuccessfully climb a steep crumbling ridge with loose shale rocks. Two died and many others were rescued, around 20 hoisted out by helicopter.

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Officials from various agencies gathered today at the trailhead for Eaton Canyon, which sees nearly a half million hikers a year seeking a view of the safely-accessible lower waterfall or access to other trails in the forest. Their message was this: Stop listening to inaccurate information from friends and the internet (social media, specifically) about the upper waterfall; it's unsafe, rugged, and not worth dying for.

"These technical rescues," especially at night, "are very challenging," said Bill Niccum of the L.A. County Fire Department. The usually two-hour rescues put first responders at risk, he added.

Officials are releasing a PSA campaign about the "unauthorized" trail. Here is the 60-second version:

As for any plans to build a safe way up to the second waterfall, U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Michael McIntyre says there are none at this time.

The official trail to the lower fall -- dog-friendly and located at 1750 N. Altadena Drive -- is about 3.76 miles roundtrip and relatively easy.

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