Matilija Canyon Trail

#1 of 221 trails in Los Padres National Forest

Join the largest community of outdoor enthusiasts.

Get Started

Upgrade to Pro

Unlimited access to National Geographic TOPO! & Trails Illustrated Maps

Learn More »

Matilija Canyon Trail is a 8.4 mile out and back trail located near New Cuyama, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking & walking and is accessible from March until November. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Share your experience to help other people learn more about this trail:

Write ReviewUpload PhotosUpload Tracks

Jessica Judd (37)

1 Completed1 Reviews

It was really fun, want to camp next time, the trail is a little overgrown so make sure and bring pants and bug spray

Cortney Rasura (2049)

56 Completed4 Reviews

Have done this several times. Went to Upper Falls and climbed above them using the ropes. Saw three more beautiful waterfalls, but then it was time to turn around. Saw several groups of people hiking & camping. Was a beautiful day.

Alaina DeGraw LaVella (96)

1 Completed1 Reviews

We just spent a good 5 hours out and back- seasoned hikers- did not find a waterfall with a pool to jump off of...passed quite a few campgrounds, ran into some college kids looking for it as well. They left to meet back with their friends after upper camp. Kind of disappointed we didn't get to swim in the falls pool for our honeymoon trip. Definitely wear pants. We didn't and regretted it

Merrit Panaligan (257)

2 Completed1 Reviews

Very difficult to stay on trail between the creek crossings, foliage and random step ups. However, if you pay VERY CLOSE attention to the cairns, and don't second guess what you think is a trail or not (it probably is a trail) AND often stay to the right of the trail, you will find your way. Loved this hike, bring a swimsuit to enjoy the water pools and plan enough time. Cx

John Roelofs (133)

5 Completed4 Reviews

USEFUL INFORMATION: major foliage overgrowth. pants are a must for this hike. the trail is narrow and surrounded by poison oak in many places. also bring bug spray or you will be swarmed my mosquitoes and flies and pulling ticks off your legs. if you do these things you will be able to enjoy the lush surroundings, beautiful views, and myriad wildlife. also, all trails doesn't give proper directions to the trail head. follow matilija canyon road all the way until it dead ends at the gate. we lost 30 min of our day looking for the trail head in the wrong place.

Nicole Padilla (293)

13 Completed5 Reviews

My friends and I backpacked this trail in early May of this year. Still plenty of water to be able to filter if needed. We camped out at the 2nd campground. It was such a great spot we ended up staying a second night. We day hiked further up the trail to check it out, the poison oak was really over grown and after the 3rd campground it is nearly impossible to get through all of it. Overall, I would backpack this again, it's a great weekend getaway that is not too strenuous. The 2nd campground also has benches that have been made around the campfire by previous hikers, it was pretty awesome!

Levi Baxter (36)

1 Completed1 Reviews

Very good SoCal hike! Easy going until last 1/2 mile at which point it steps up a level. We left early am which was a good thing because you'll be in the sun for most of the way. Every trail reference I saw before starting - including SC - says the hike is 8.4 miles but that's incorrect. From the trailhead, it's a 5.8 there and back. There is still some water falling in August and we had a fun dip in the Falls pool. The private property / no trespass signs along the hike are an unfortunate distraction but you'll be ok if you stay on the trail. If you don't want to stop and play along the way the hike takes just over 2 hours. Onward and upward...

Katy Corlis (101)

1 Completed1 Reviews

Me and my boyfriend went to this trail over the weekend, and actually set up a tent and spent the night. We got there around 11 am, so the hike to middle camp was more brutal since we were right into the heat. We ended up right next to the creek so we ended up in a cooler spot for the night. We had a blast walking up the trail. With plenty of inclines, and not to flat of a hill it was someone difficult. On the way back it was easier since we were refreshed with sleep and left around 8:30 am. The weather was perfect. I suggest going earlier in the day! It was about 2-2.5 hours the second day coming from middle camp down to base. Was worth the whole 8 mile trek. Any time we saw people, everyone was nice. The hike also was super clean. I did see a huge tarantula spider! so be careful not to step on one of those!!

Jan Egge (123)

2 Completed1 Reviews

On a hot summer day this is quite a hot hike. With confusing turns across 2 private properties, meeting the friendly guard dog. Then via a fire road into a slim windy trail mountainside that occasionally has small safety concerns. Tons of poison oak or ivy. But the reward are peaceful waterholes near nice camp sites.

Matthew Oakes (384)

7 Completed2 Reviews

One of my favorite hikes I've done so far. It's not too difficult, until you begin the ascent towards Middle Matilija campground, but the climb doesn't last very long. We made it up to the Middle Matilija campground in about 2.5 hours. The campground is awesome - a creek with plenty of running water, a large fire pit and a steel bbq. There is plenty of shade from the large oak trees. The trail is well marked with yellow dots and arrows painted on rocks up to Middle Matilija camp, after that it's not as well marked. To continue on the trail at Middle Matilija campground, continue due North. The trail will seem to be leaving the creek, but it wraps right back around. Overall, I would highly recommend this trail and I will be back here!

Support