Tenaja Falls Trail

#1 of 1 trails in San Mateo Canyon Wilderness
Tenaja Falls Trail is a 4.5 mile out and back trail located near Lake Elsinore, CA that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and walking and is accessible year-round.

4.5 miles 416 feet Out & Back
kid friendly hiking walking river views waterfall wildlife
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Directions from Temecula, CA: Travel Interstate 15 to the Clinton Keith Road exit and go west, then south on Tenaja Road for a total of 9.9 miles. Turn right at sign that points to Cleveland Forest Rd. Continue 5 miles to trailhead. Then continue 4.3 miles to the falls.

andrea hernandez

1 Completed1 Reviews

First time up Tenaja Trailhead and I had a great time. The hike to the waterfull is very short and an easy hike there. the trail to the waterfall is a little under a mile and only took about an hour to get there. I did not get to see a huge waterfall but it was still a beauty. since it was a short hike we kept walking off a smaller beaten path and went on for about 3-4 miles. Didn't see much but some fresh Mountain lion claw prints. only for the adventurous after that.

Melissa Karren

1 Completed1 Reviews

Beautiful views however the falls are dried up :(

Marc Oslund

8 Completed8 Reviews

Kursti Nakagawa

1 Completed1 Reviews

Beautiful, towering hills circle the trail giving it a mysterious vibe. Watch out for ticks!

Cristen W.

As you would expect at this time of year, the trail is drier with less tree coverage than some of the photos depict, but its a great hike. The creek and fall are also both totally dried up right now, but the underlying rocks are still a lot of fun to climb on. Some of the other reviewers note that the road out is a bit treacherous, I would add that it is also very long! Be prepared for another 30 minutes of driving on a narrow, pot-holed, winding road once you enter Cleveland Forest. It is a beautiful drive with several scenic turnouts for photos and such, but you begin to wonder if you'll ever get to the trailhead!

Mike S.

Once you make a right on Cleveland forest road, you will arrive at the Tenaja Trail head. If you decide to make your way to the 2nd Tenaja Falls trail head which is approximately another 4 miles on this one lane road, make sure you take your time and remember there is only enough room for one vehicle for most the way. The road is paved and just a few pot holes to watch out for but mainly watch out for traffic on those blind turns, use those pull outs and you will be ok.
About a 1/4 mile in, you reach a fork in the trail. Left will take you to the top of the falls. Right of the fork, you will see a landing area with two ropes swings that is adjacent to the riverbed. Just rock hop your way up the riverbed and you will reach the base of the falls. Great hike, little water flowing but will definitely go back just after the next storm.

Rosana Moran

3 Completed2 Reviews

Hiked this trail with the hubby. It was an awesome experience, we hiked about two miles past the falls and then turned around and stopped there on the way back. There was a small amount of water at the top but the falls were not flowing because of the drought. The trail itself is very easy with beautiful views. We climbed all over the rocks by the falls and took some awesome pictures. On our way back we stumbled upon a trail that didn't seem to be on the map. The only landmark I remember is an old rusty car. This trail was a lot more difficult. We hiked through small rocks at first, but they became bigger and more difficult as we approached the bottom of the falls. The walk back to the original trail was the most fun since we had to slide down the big rocks to get back to the smaller rocks. Overall an awesome hike! It took us about 3 hours. The only downside I see is the drive there. The road is too small for two cars so drive slowly and carefully!!!

Pat Starr

1 Completed1 Reviews

The walk required a fair amount of rock jumping and was not well-marked, causing us extra time to get to the falls area, which were not flowing due to the drought conditions. There was a little water in the pool below but the area was crowded and not really worth the hike.

Nicole Schendel

1 Completed1 Reviews

Good for families and beginners. Cool view but very little water right now (darn drought) short hike about 2 miles to the top of the falls and back. Far drive for such a short hike

Kyle Mccown

31 Completed22 Reviews

Went here yesterday (3/11/14). If you like cool, scenic drives then you will love going here. Once you go past the Santa Rosa Ecological Reserve (which is full of Mountain Bike trails) you drive for about 15 or so miles through beautiful countryside. There are huge ranches full of horses (I even spotted a Texas Longhorn). Once you turn onto Cleveland Forest Road the main trailhead will be in a mile or so. This is the trailhead for the longer 5 mile hike. To get to the closer trailhead continue on past it for about 4 1/2 miles. From here it is less than a mile to the falls. Not too much incline. You can spot the falls from the trail up. The water was only at a trickle when I was there. There was broken glass all over the top of the falls and graffiti too. Some dumb kid even spray-painted a big "PROM?" proposal on one of the rocks... basically spoiling most pictures of the upper falls. The views through the whole canyon are awesome. Try to plan a trip here when its wet. You can also get here from certain trailheads off of Ortega HWY and other places, but this makes it for a longer - more awesome hike. If you come here can you please pick up a little bit of trash? THANKS!!!