Three Sisters Waterfalls Trail: Descanso, CA

Trail Stats

4.3 miles
Elevation Gain
1,063 feet
Total Time
2 hours 41 minutes
Moving Time
2 hours 17 minutes

Three Sisters Waterfalls Trail is a 4.3 mile hike with 1,063 feet of elevation gain located in Descanso, California and is a part of the Cleveland National Forest. This trail is known for the amount of rescues that happen on it, so please make sure you are prepared before attempting this hike. With the right preparation, this will be a very enjoyable adventure.

First thing we need to talk about is the drive to the trail head and the parking. The drive to the hike is fairly easy with the right vehicle. For the last portion of the drive you will be driving on a groomed fire road. Last time I was out there the road was in amazing condition. I felt that a sedan could easily make it out there… until I got to the parking lot. In the parking lot there was a huge rut in the ground that I had to cross in order to get to the other 4/5th of the parking lot.

With my Ford Explorer and 4WD I was able to go over it without an issue. I would find it less desirable if I was in a sedan. I did see sedans on the other side of the rut, not sure I would do it if it was my car. If you have been recently please comment below with the condition of parking. There was about 50-75 parking spaces available and they filled up very quickly. This is the only legit parking. Outside of this parking lot, there are tons of no parking signs, you have been warned. Early bird gets the parking on this hike.

In the parking lot there is two porto potties. If you need to go to the bathroom, now is the time. This hike is what I like to call a “reverse-hike”, you start by going down, once you reach your destination, you go up the way you came.

Three Sisters Trail Parking

From the parking lot I was easily able to find the trail head. After you make it over the hill, you will start your first decline, pay attention to the left of the trail. You will find your turnoff to go to the three sisters waterfalls. If you go right, you will be on another trail. At this point you are going to follow the trail down the mountain. If you look carefully you will be able to see the falls off in the distance.

About half way down the mountain you will stay to the left to stay on the new trail. At this point it has been there about a year or two and replaces the previous trail that was very dangerous and went straight down the mountain. While you may see people taking this route, it is no longer official. I highly recommend against going down this portion.

For the last 1/4 mile you will be going over some rocks, but the trail will remain clearly defined. After this section you will arrive at the falls. While it is an amazing view make sure to get your footing before walking too far. The rock is very slippery.

Climbing to the upper falls is can be very difficult, and is narrow. If you attempt this, take your time, and be very careful, it is dangerous. Also remember you most likely crossed running water to get to the other side of the falls. When you get to the upper falls, your footing may be wet.

At the falls take time to enjoy what you see around you. Most likely if the falls are flowing you will also see people sliding down it. I have done this in the past and it was a lot of fun. Keep in mind though, there is always risk when doing something like this, so make your best judgement call so that you do not injure yourself.

Most importantly keep an eye on the time, weather, and the water you have available so you can make it to the trailhead safely. This is a very fun hike, you just need to be prepared and play it safe.

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