Hike to and Rapel Thalehaha Falls in Rubio Canyon

Rate this Adventure Los Angeles Rubio Canyon Trailhead

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Explore numerous waterfalls in seclusion less than an hour from Los Angeles. Rappelling over falls, climbing, hiking, getting soaked, making new friends, and taking in sunset views from a hidden retreat are all part of this nearby adventure!

If you are new to canyoneering and want to do an adventure like this, reach out to the guys and girls at The Blue 8 target="_blank" who guided us through Rubio Canyon. They are a dedicated team of stunt professionals who train and offer personal instruction on everything action-adventure from canyoneering, to parkour, martial arts, and even tactical ops. Even if it is just to learn a new trick like Australian Rapelling (facing forward) and walking down a cliff, it is worth reaching out to The Blue 8!

The trails starts in a foothill neighborhood of Altadena CA at the corner of Pleasantridge Dr. and Rubio Vista Rd. This is one of the better entries into the Angeles National Forest because it is one of the lesser known. Find a place to park on the street and head out on the trail into Rubio Canyon. Take note, that because this is a lesser used trail, rattlesnakes are more commonly found under rocks on the trails up the canyon.

Follow the gently sloping trail along the canyon a half-mile as you pass pipes bringing spring water to the reservoir below to the switchbacks heading up the mountain. Instead of going left up the mountain, keep right and follow the trail into the creek bed along the marked trail. About another half mile along the creek bed there will be a split in the trail. To the left is Ribbon Falls and the exit of the canyoneering section for Rubio Canyon. To the right is the trail for the entrance that goes up steeply a half mile through tall foxtail grasses to the first rock overlook.

This is an excellent place to survey the canyon and gear up for the first descent. The views street from downtown Los Angeles on one side and Thalehaha Falls on the other. After your gear is ready, take the trail up a few hundred more feet to the first drop. Using the anchors in the gulley at the opening, walk back 20 feet to the first rocks and rappel down the loose incline 30' to the ledge. Helmets are helpful hear as rocks and rabble frequently tumble out of the loose soil. The next drop is similar, with a more solid rock face at the bottom to rappel down.

A short walk through Rubio Creek opens into a deep canyon with anchors and webbing on the wall. Safety in here before peering over the edge. This is the crest of Thalehaha Falls. The narrow canyon stays cool and damp most of the year allowing moss and algae to keep the surfaces slick. Make sure you are using an autoblock while abseiling. This is a tricky descent that works best if the western face of the falls is carefully navigated. Beginners should stick to the chute on the eastern face and go slow. When there is enough rain, the falls can fill the full width, and the pool at the base can be near waist high!

The second descent from the falls is about 20' deep. Take in the view here, as afternoon sun sets the canyon glowing perpendicular to the lower falls. After a walk down the creek there is a narrow 20' waterfall rappel into a pool followed by a short downclimb out into a wildflower filled opening. This is an excellent spot to take a break. If heading into the night, the sunset views out of the canyon are incredible.

From here there are two more rappels down drier faces at about 25' each. The last rappel is a 30' drop over Ribbon Falls into a pool and then 15' over the lower falls. This can be done as a single rappel using a 100' rope. A short walk takes you back to the trail split. Follow the pipes back out to the trail and back to the trailhead.

This adventure should take a half-day for beginners. If you want a full-day adventure for the expert, keep hiking past the first drop-in to the head of Rubio Creek for a 100' drop over Leontine Falls. This route adds 4 more technically challenging descents.

The best place to re-cooperate is at the Rancho Bar in Altadena. Get a Bloody Mary and sit out on the patio with some great locals, you won't be disappointed!

Pack List

  • TETON Sports Canyon 2100 pack
  • Climbing harness
  • 4 locking carabiners
  • Daisy chain webbing
  • Nylon sling (to autobrake)
  • Petzl Piranha belay device
  • Petzl Helmet
  • Petzl Headlamp
  • Petzl belay gloves
  • Five Ten Cannoneer 3 Shoes
  • Marmot Gravity jacket
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How to Get There

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Added by Michael Wigle

Exploring this incredible world with Film / Photography / Stories

Activities:

Chillin, Photography, Hiking, Rock Climbing

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Loop

Distance:

3 Miles

Elev. Gain:

710 Feet

Features:

Adult Beverages
Dog Friendly
Forest
Groups
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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