Situated in Los Padres National Forest lies Matilija Falls. Although it’s not the tallest waterfall in California, it’s definitely one of the most scenic hikes and breathtaking waterfalls in the state. Along your journey you’ll pass campgrounds, several swimming holes, creeks, and even another waterfall. If you are in Southern California and looking for a day hike, put Matilija Falls on your bucket list of places to visit.
To get to Matilija Falls, it’s roughly a 9 mile hike (4 hours) which is considered moderate given you will be going up in elevation by almost 1,000 feet. You’ll often see people on the trail hiking up with camping gear to spend the night under the stars. Some of the more popular campgrounds are Middle and Upper Matilija as well as Maple. Each has fire pits and designated camping areas for a peaceful night before making the trek back down.
Once you reach this waterfall near Ojai, you’ll quickly forget about the world for a while and soak in the nature and scenic views of the flowing water. There are two tiers to the waterfall and sometimes you’ll see mountain climbers scaling up or down the waterfall by rope. As you break through the wilderness, you notice the waterfalls are surrounded by sandstone which sparkle in the sunlight. Feel free to grab your bathing suit and jump in to the swimming holes and cool off as you let the falling waters shower you. There is even a small cave behind the main waterfall you can go explore.
If you are feeling adventurous and want to have a little more fun, there is a rope next to Matilija Falls you can use to scale up to a 3rd waterfall section. The younger crowd typically likes to make this trek as there is another great swimming hole as well as some cliff jumping into the deeper waters. When you are all finished, use the rope to scale back down and make the easy trek back the way you came to complete the perfect day in California.