Canyonlands: Tales from Narrow Places

Cali Canyoneering – Lower Eaton Canyon

Posted in California & Nevada by canyoneering on June 15, 2010

Lower Eaton Canyon, 3BIV
8 miles
Angeles National Forest – San Gabriel Mountains


The hike up the popular Mount Wilson Toll Road trail to get to Eaton Canyon was sizzling in the mid-morning southern California sun. With frequent breaks in scarce shade we were treated to a panoramic view of Los Angeles and if it weren’t for the typical heavy haze of smog we could have seen the ocean from the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Eaton canyon is a natural wonderland on the outskirts of Los Angeles with warm water flowing down a steep canyon filled with trees and other beautiful vegetation. The canyon also features many natural water slides (although after the devastating Station Fire of last year, many of the drops that were once water slides into deep pools are now rappels because the canyon has been filled with much sand and debris).

I was still rappelling lefty after injuring my hand in Sunburst the week before but that was not going to keep me from going down Eaton. It was great to get out in a canyon with Chris who I had not descended a canyon with in nearly a year. After numerous rappels and down climbs through the considerable flow we began noticing graffiti on the canyon walls. The spray paint on the walls definitely took away from the gorgeous natural setting.

The final two rappels in Eaton are through slippery waterfalls directly down the watercourse. If rappelling while being pummeled by water is not enough you are greeted with the added pressure of a considerable audience from below, as the final two waterfalls are popular hiking spots reached from walking up the canyon. I have never seen such a crowd at the bottom of a rappel! Both Mystery and Imlay canyons in Zion National Park have final rappels into the Narrows, which can give you an audience of a few hikers but they don’t hold a candle to an Eaton rappel on a Sunday afternoon. Chris was the first to go down and he got cheers from over 50 people hanging out at the base of the waterfall. After our group of six made it safely through the final rap without embarrassing ourselves we hiked out of the canyon passing quite literally a hundred people.



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