Short Hike to a Swimming Hole in Stoddard Canyon

HIKE TO: Stoddard Canyon Falls
MILES: 1.25 miles (out & back)
TIME:  15-20 mins one-way
DATE I WENT: 8/15/20
ELEVATION: 3653 ft
LOCATION: Angeles National Forest / Mount Baldy Wilderness Preserve / San Gabriel Mountains

This super short hike in Stoddard Canyon to the waterfall/ slide and swimming hole is a backward trail (goes down first, then hike up on the way out) in the Mt. Baldy region. There is a small parking lot at the trailhead but more parking off Mt Baldy Road. The upper part of the hike on the wide road is exposed but the canyon is shaded since it’s narrow. There are climbing routes and a ton of graffiti at the base of the waterfall so please do your part in practicing leave no trace, packing out your trash, and do not deface mother nature.

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There are a few options to hike down – I went with option 3 which is the most “normal” hiking trail.

Option 1: You can descend directly from the top of the waterfall and slide down into the canyon (0.24 miles from the trailhead) – I was told there’s a canyoneering route from the top of the falls, not sure if this is it but we saw one person slide right down the waterfall which look sketchy with the concave walls.

Option 2: Take a steep/ very vertical rope directly to the bottom of the falls where all the graffiti is, assuming the rope is still there.

Option 3: (Recommended route, 0.6 miles one-way total) Hike a little farther (literally 2-3 mins further from the previous options) and descend down the side of the canyon by the pillar-like structures (see photo below).

There seems to be a quicker option to descend just a few feet before this trail but that way is steeper with loose little rocks so it’s sketchier.
**Yes, I know I misspelled slipperier**

Going for a swim? I highly recommend this Matador travel towel for hikes – it’s extremely lightweight, quick-drying, and full-size!

This trail option also allows you to enjoy Stoddard Canyon more, exploring other swimming holes and San Antonio Creek just a bit more. I descended into the canyon at 0.38 mi and it’s 0.6 mi total to the falls one way. You can stay dry in the canyon by staying along the sides to avoid water. Since the waterfall area can get crowded and noisy, there is another great swimming hole right when you drop into the canyon (see the second photo below – you can hang out in this pool or the one above it).

I went during a heatwave on my second trip out here and although it was 90 deg at the top, it does get a lot cooler by the waterfall since the canyon is narrow. I’ve always hiked in mid-morning and the canyon stays shaded the whole time I’m there.

When you’re done, hike out the same way! Even though it’s a short hike, it’s an uphill and exposed trail once you are out of the canyon so make sure you bring water and cover up!

Shop my Swimming Hole Hiking Gear Essentials for Stoddard Canyon:

hiking gear for stoddard canyon

Thanks for reading!

I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, and any recommendations you have in the comments section below! 🙂 & please don’t forget to practice Leave No Trace

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    9 thoughts on “Short Hike to a Swimming Hole in Stoddard Canyon”

      1. Hi Cory, thanks for your message – My blogs provide 90-100% of the information you need to get to the exact places I write about. If you look at the beginning of every trail report, you will notice I tell you the destination, trail name (if it has one which most do but this particular one does not), the area/ mountain range it is located in, and many more details including the parking/ trailhead for certain hikes. I’m not sure how much more info I can provide aside from providing detailed driving instructions and an exact pin which Google can surely pull up for you with a quick search of your own 🙂

    1. The trailhead is open. There was a fire in the canyon in January, which is probably why Google has it as closed. Getting to the pool is too steep for me, so I kept walking down the abandoned road for another mile, and you work your way down to water level. There’s still graffiti and some litter and a lot of bugs, and you walk briefly through a burned-out area, but you arrive at a pretty spot with many small cataracts and pools. Getting back up to the parking lot is all uphill.

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