Tenaja Trail

San Mateo Canyon Wilderness, California

Distance0.8mi
Elevation Gain560ft
Trailhead Elevation1,184ft
Top1,184ft
Elevation Min/Max1104/1184ft
Elevation Start/End1184/1184ft

Tenaja Trail

Tenaja Trail is a hiking trail in Riverside County, California. It is within San Mateo Canyon Wilderness. It is 0.8 miles long and begins at 1,184 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 1.6 miles with a total elevation gain of 560 feet. The trail ends near the Fisherman's Camp site. There are also information guideposts near the end of the trail. This trail connects with the following: Tenaja Falls High Trail and Tenaja Falls Creekside Trail.

Tenaja Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

"Tenaja Falls is located in San Mateo Canyon at an elevation of 1,570 feet. Tenajas are pools in basalt-lined creekbeds that hold water throughout the summer. When the water is flowing, Tenaja Falls is quite picturesque. The creek drops 160 feet over five tiers, cascading over polished granite into a series of pools (tenajas) formed in the smooth, sculpted rock. This path follows the west canyon wall on the chaparral-covered slope to the brink of the falls and pools." Read more
Best Hikes Near Los Angeles (Falcon Guides)
Allen Riedel and Monique Riedel
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"Cascades of water plummet over four tiers, making this 150-foot waterfall one of the highest in Southern California. A short hike to the falls can be accomplished by almost anyone, and children will love the simple yet elegant fall." Read more
101 Hikes in Southern California: Exploring Mountains, Seashore and Desert (Wilderness Press)
Jerry Schad and David Money Harris
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"With five tiers and a total drop of about 150 feet, Tenaja Falls is the most interesting natural feature in the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness section of Cleveland National Forest. In late winter and spring, water coursing down the polished rock produces a kind of soothing music not widely heard in this somewhat dry corner of the Santa Ana Mountains. The only easy way to reach Tenaja Falls on foot is from the south, though the drive to that trailhead is rather lengthy by way of any approach. Beware of the plentiful poison oak growing alongside the trail." Read more
Afoot & Afield: Orange County (Wilderness Press)
Jerry Schad and David Money Harris
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"With five tiers and a total drop of about 150 feet, Tenaja Falls is the most interesting natural feature in San Mateo Canyon Wilderness. In late winter and spring, water coursing down the polished rock produces a kind of soothing music not widely heard in this somewhat dry corner of the Santa Ana Mountains." Read more
Best Hikes with Dogs: Southern California (The Mountaineers Books)
Allen Riedel
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"This is a very short trip that leads to a popular cascade in southern Riverside County. The longest thing about the excursion is the drive you take to get there. Traveling down Clinton Keith will really give you a feeling of how the other half lives. Private polo grounds notwithstanding, there are some incredible ranches and grand mansions along the way. Some of the homes stretch right up to the border of the forest and beyond, but they do not interfere with any of the hikes in the area, especially the falls, which are recessed deep into the canyon." Read more

Tenaja Trail Reviews

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4/2/2011
Very enjoyable hike. I went with my wife and two daughters (ages 13 and 11). There is a creek to cross at the beginning (which was knee deep) when we were there. I took off my shoes and walked across barefoot. the smooth, rocky surface at the top of the falls provides a great place to eat lunch and play around near the water. Hiking time was 1hr 4min. Drive in takes a while because a portion of the road is one lane with lots of curves. Watch out for poison oak.
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4/3/2010
I just got my wife started in hiking and this was a nice little starter trail. Make sure you look for the concrete slab for the river crossing. We only went to the lower falls but the trail goes quite a bit further. We might go again next weekend and make a full day out of it.
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5/10/2009
This was a fun trail. It is easy to lose the trail however if you're not watching for the concrete slab that crosses the stream mentioned in the guide. Although if you do miss the trail you'll find plenty of neglected paths crossing over various dry stream beds which all lead eventually to the falls. If you bring your dogs be mindful to bring plenty of water along as the heat can really soar. The trail itself can get very hot too and our dogs ended up trying to convince us to carry them as the trail was too hot for their feet.
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3/1/2009
I hike on the trail every weekend.I also explain the various intricacies of the trail itself.My hikes usually go further up the trail to the top. That is basically the ridgetops.There are so many different variety's of vegetation and trees. This place is great for Families,couples, or, individuals who like to hike.So, there you have the scoop on Tenaha Falls my fellow hikers.See ya up there!
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11/27/2006
It was quite a drive to get to the trail head, windy and interesting. The hike itself is not long. the falls are spectacular, but there was not water flowing this Nov. One of our crew fell, dislocated her shoulder. Watch out for the rocks on the trail, even tho it is cleared out and well maintained, it is somewhat narrow in places. The people we met were top notch. We a had a nice time for the most part.
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Trail Information

San Mateo Canyon Wilderness
Nearby City
San Mateo Canyon Wilderness
Parks
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Accessibility
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
Waterfalls
Features
San Mateo Canyon Wilderness
Local Contacts
USGS 7.5-minute Sitton Peak
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018