Escondido Falls is a great day hike in Malibu and is accessible right from the Pacific Coast Highway on Winding Way Road. There’s a small carpark on PCH. If that’s full you can park right on the side of the PCH. To get to the trailhead, you walk down the road past the multi-million dollar mansions and in about 10-15 minutes you’ll see a sign and a path on the left that slopes down the hill. At the first two path junctions take a left and you’ll reach a small waterfall with a refreshingly cool pool of water underneath it. It’s too shallow to swim in and due to all the rocks it’s a bit tricky to get into the water but it feels great to put your head underneath the falls on a hot day. From here, there are several paths leading further up. The easiest one is on the right and rises gently at first then gets very steep. Once you climb up and through the boulder crevice you find yourself on a very small rock ledge which fronts a 20+ metre drop. I have to admit, it’s a bit unsettling if you don’t like heights but the view of the falls a bit further up from this point is awesome. From here there is a web of tracks that aren’t signposted so you have to do a bit of path finding but almost all the trails invariably lead to the top of the hill.
On the way down, you have to press your back against the smooth side of the boulder crevice while pressing your hands and feet on the other wall. Think of walking on all fours…vertically. It’s actually not as hard as it first seems but be sure to wear a shirt for this bit. And be ready to use your hands for the very steep descent back into the forest from here. Remember the easy path going up I mentioned earlier? It’s important to keep left and try to take this path back down to the smaller falls. If you take one of the other routes like we did you’ll have to find your way down some near vertical rock faces which you definitely don’t want to fall off of unless you don’t mind breaking a bone or two.