Hike to Newton & Zuma Canyon Falls

Newton Canyon Trailhead

This few mile hike will take you to 3 amazing lesser known waterfalls in the Santa Monica mountains National Recreational Area. 

Three waterfalls in one short hike?!...I'll take it! That's what you'll get if you make the visit to these falls in the Santa Monica mountains in Malibu. The trailhead starts on Kanan Dume road, which is also where the Backbone trail meets. Park in the designated (free) parking area and take the vegetated downhill trail about .2 miles until you get to an unmarked junction. Take the trail to the left for another .2 miles which will lead you to a vertical 25-foot hidden waterfall. Once making your way down to the base of the falls, soak up the scenery and get a few shots. From here is where the fun begins!

 To see the other two waterfalls, be prepared to rock hop downstream. There's no immediate trail, so your only option is to hike through the water or scramble across the rocks. (Warning: The scramble can be easy or difficult, depending on how intense the flow of the stream is.) Hike your way downstream towards Lower Newton Canyon Falls. You'll know when you've arrived because the end of the stream will take you to a sheer cliff which is the top of Lower Newton falls. From here take the slightly beaten trail to the left and make your way on a steep downhill slope to the base of the 30-foot waterfall. I personally enjoyed this fall a bit more then Upper Newton Falls. The forecast and composition made for great photographs. Another couple hundred feet is where Zuma and Newton creeks join. Stay right for another 5-10 minutes until you get to Zuma Canyon Falls.

Note: I learned my lesson the hard way after being careless hiking through some brush of poison oak, so cover up and be careful! Zuma Falls is only about 23-feet tall, but this was my favorite of the three. So I guess you can say the waterfalls just keep getting better and better!...lol. This has a spectacular setting with the falls dropping over a sandstone ledge and surrounded by large caves. On a warm day, feel free to take a dip in the water! When done, make your way back the way you came.

Have fun and happy trails! 

Pack List

  • Hiking boots or water shoes
  • Backpack
  • Camera/tripod
  • Food/water
  • Long pants/shirt
  • Hat
  • Good vibes!
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RT Distance 2 Miles
Elevation Gain -600 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Swimming, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Winter
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Awesome short scramble

How we loved this off beaten path. Derek did a fantastic job with directions, hence we made the trek down with no issues. However, due to season (mid spring) we came across two issues. First, on the decent to the second water fall there was a considerable amount of loose dirt. Thankful for the ropes! Second, we could not reach the third water fall (oh we were so close) due to poison oak. This is perfect for hikers who like to use a bit upper body also love water newts, frogs & blue belly’s. Again, due to Derek’s directions we felt so comfortable on this hike. Knowing where to go is the main battle for me. You will want to photograph the entire time, so grab a lanyard for your cell phone. Now get out and hike!! PS there’s another hike over T1, same parking lot, you will love!!!

Fabulous Short Hike

You won't see anyone on this 'non existent washed out trail' so you have to rely on the directions of outbound collective.... but we loved every minute of it. We were alone but with nature and that is exactly what we wanted.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

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

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