Placerita is a wooded park that has lots of trails, a waterfall, picnic space, historic monuments & a nature center with regular events. The park is situated in the transition zone between the San Gabrial Mountains and the Mojave Desert, and is full of sandstone formations, seasonal streams and riparian oak woodlands, as well as stands of cottonwood and native sycamore trees. The location connects the Angeles National Forest, the Santa Susana Mountains, the Simi Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains. The hills in this park have beautiful views and go through forested woods as well as open rolling hills with sweeping views. There is a vast network of self-guiding nature, history and hiking trails in the park from the Nature Center. The longer hikes lead to a seasonal waterfall and to the top of the Santa Clarita Divide.
The purpose of Placerita Canyon State Park, in Los Angeles County, is to protect the site of the first discovery of gold in California, in 1842. This park is designated as a State Historic Landmark. The park has the historic, “Oak of the Golden Dream” which is the famous site of the original discovery of gold in California in 1842. Another landmark that is historical in the park is the Walker Cabin that was built by Frank Walker in 1920 for his family.
Miles: The hikes range from .6-7 miles
Elevation: 1892 highest elevation
Type: out and back and loops
Time: 30 minutes-a couple hours
Map : Placerita Canyon Map
How to get there
Exit SR 14 at Placerita Cyn Rd. If you’re coming from the south, turn right. If you’re coming from the north, turn left on to Placerita Canyon Road. Then, turn right into a turnout marked with a wooden “Walker Ranch Trailhead” sign on your right, approximately 3.5 miles from Hwy 14. If you’d like a longer Hike, turn into the Placerita Nature Center Natural Area, park, and take the Canyon Trail all the way to Walker Ranch where you will find the trailhead to the Waterfall.
The Placerita Nature Center is the trailhead and parking lot. The parking is free and there are no permits needed. This is the starting point for all of the trails and hikes in the park as well.
Trailhead Address: 19152 Placerita Canyon Rd, Newhall, CA 91321, USA
Park Hours/ Events
The park is open sunrise to sunset daily to the public. The Placerita Canyon Nature Center is open 9am-5pm daily except for Mondays when it is closed. There are lots of weekly events with the nature center including family nature walks at 11 am on Saturdays. They also have native live animal shows at 1 pm and these are free programs. Every second Saturday of the month there is a “Nature Tots” program for children 3 to 5 years old from 9:30AM to 10:30AM. Pre-Registration is required. Click here for information on how to register your child.
Nature Center Contact: (661) 259-7721, between 9 am and 5 pm, Tuesday through Sunday (the office is closed on Mondays.)
Every third Saturday of the month there is a Twilight Hike. Here’s the schedule:
• April 20th 7:00 pm
• May 18th 8:00 pm
• June 15th 8:00 pm
• July 20th 8:00 pm
Every fourth Saturday of the month there is a “Blooms of the Season” wildflower walk from 9:30AM to 10:30AM. Click here for a program brochure.
There are many trials in the park and around 7 main trails that are the majority of the park traffic. The waterfall is popular to hike to when there has been rain to see the falls, otherwise the canyon trial and loops that you can do on the Pinetos trails are beautiful with overlooks of the city and canyon. The trails in the park are: Los Pinetos, waterfall trail, canyon trail, Manzanita Mountain trail, Allen trail, Fire Break hike and Hillside trail.
Los Pinetos Waterfall Ride: Oak Pass and Los Pinetos trails
This is a 6.6 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Newhall, California that has a waterfall and is a moderate difficulty. The trail is open year-round. Dogs are allowed on this trail but must be leashed. This is a loop trail with 1748 feet of elevation gain. The trail starts at the Nature Center. If you do the loop counter clockwise you can start with the hardest section at the beginning. Steep steady incline for the first 3 miles, then in a lovely oak forest until you hit Walker Ranch (5mi) with water fountains and port-a-potties. From here you can get to the Nature Center via Canyon Trail. The Los Pinetos section of the trail is sparsely populated even on a weekend.
This is an easy nature walk trail that is less than 1 mile to a refreshing falls in the canyon! The trial is only 0.6 miles long from the junction with Canyon Trail, to a 15-foot tall waterfall. The trail has big cone spruce and coastal live oak, and has a gentle grade that climbs through Los Pinetos Canyon. The trail ends at the waterfall, which after a rain has quite an impressive flow; however, during drier months, there may be no flow at all.
Elevation: 300 feet ascent, 2103 feet at highest point
The Canyon Trail connects the Nature Center Area and the Walker Ranch Area parking lot via a 2.1-mile long path. From the Nature Center parking lot and the Main Trailhead, go east on Canyon Trail which follows Placerita Creek up the canyon. Willows, oaks, sycamore, and alder shade the path and the banks of the creek. In a little over a mile, the trail splits, stay right to continue on Canyon Trail. Around 1.9 miles, there are two trails off to the right heading south; the one further west is Los Pinetos Trail and the one to the east is Waterfall Trail. Canyon Trail ends at the parking lot for the Walker Ranch Area.
Miles: 2.1 miles
Elevation: 430 feet ascent, 1892 feet at highest point
Things to do Nearby
Echo Mountain Hike
Echo Mountain is a famous LA hiking trail that is some of the best trail running area right outside the city. The hike takes the Sam Merrill Trail, which follows the old Mt Lowe railway route up to Echo Mountain, where you can see the old ruins of the Echo Mountain mountain resort. USA Today included the Echo Mountain hike as one of the “10 Great North American Hikes” and Sunset Magazine called it one of the top 45 hikes in the west. The hike is a clearly marked and easy trail to follow, has sweeping beautiful views, is full of history, is a great workout and is right outside LA.
Six Pack of Peaks
The Six Pack of Peaks are the top 6 highest and most epic hikes in southern California. There is a challenge in the community to complete all the hikes in one season. These are the hikes I returned to countless times living in CA and highly recommend these hikes.