Hike to Fossil Falls

Los Angeles Fossil Falls Trailhead

Added by Sara Kurth

Expect neither fossils nor a waterfall, but instead a geologic remnant of the last ice age. Fossil Falls is a basalt chasm carved into the otherwise flat desert landscape. 

Fossil Falls is located east of Highway 395, a few miles south of Coso Junction, 45 min north of Ridgecrest. There is Bureau of Land Management sign pointing the way, but it is small, faded, and easy to miss, so be on the lookout.

After about a mile drive on a marked dirt road, you'll reach the small parking lot, bathrooms, and the trailhead. 

The Falls are about a half-mile (round-trip) hike from the parking lot. The trail is well worn and marked with orange blazes. It is flat, but rugged. 

Fossil Falls is what is left behind from when a long-ago waterfall met a long-ago lava flow. The polished basalt and obsidian formations and chasm stand in stark contrast to the surrounding desert landscape.

The Falls are fun to explore, but be sure to wear shoes with good traction. The polished rocks are smooth and slippery. 

A few basic camp sites are available near the parking lot.  

Pack List

  • Sunhat and/or sunscreen
  • Water
  • Sturdy shoes with good traction
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Camping, Hiking, Photography, Rock Climbing

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



0.5 Miles




Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

5 days ago


Easy walk out to the falls from the parking lot that is a short hop off 395. Can poke around at your leisure but don't get too close to the edge! The rock formations are pretty impressive and it definitely makes you feel tiny. Definitely worth the stop.

5 days ago

Added by Sara Kurth

Minnesota-raised, Oakland-based running coach, writer, explorer and observer. Seeker of the unusual and the unexpected.

More Adventures Nearby

Kayak the Marina Del Rey Harbor

Los Angeles / Marina Beach (Mother's Beach)

The Marina Del Rey harbor covers 1.5 square miles making it the world’s largest small-craft harbor.

Hike the Towsley Canyon Loop

Los Angeles / Towsley Canyon Trailhead

The Towsley Canyon Loop can be done in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise loop.

Climb to the Top of Ladyface

Los Angeles / Ladyface Trail Head

Ladyface is a volcanic ridge that juts up over Agoura Hills. It is a short but steep hike up the ridgeline, and it offers amazing views to either side.

Henry Kittredge
15 Saves