What to do when it's too hot to
hike?  Go creek hiking!

Bonita Falls ~ May 18, 2008
Bonita Falls is the 2nd highest waterfall in Southern California.  In total its 4 tiers drop
about 475 feet.  The tallest in Southern California is the aptly named
Big Falls and both of
these waterfalls are on the San Bernardino National Forest.  What I like best about the
San Bernardino National Forest is the rugged beauty of the canyons and mountains.  These
are very active geological places...  faults including the famous San Andreas cut into these
young mountains and flash floods and landslides are common.   In short there really isn't
anything gentle and easy about this landscape, and although only 3/4 miles from the road,
Bonita Falls isn't an easy hike...  there isn't a maintained trail rather you make your way up
a very, very rocky streambed in a very, very rugged canyon.  Todd and I began hiking up it
Christmas Eve last year but didn't get very far because we started too late in the day
and it gets dark early in the canyon in the wintertime.  But today in two hours I hiked up to
the falls and sat for a spell then hiked back.  Here and there you'll find bits of a user trail
but I found it's easiest, and coolest, to just put on shorts or capris and a good pair of
sandals like Keen's and just hike up through the water of the creek.  Even on a day like
today, when it was 85 degrees when I started hiking, you can stay relatively cool this way.  
The last scramble up to the lower tier of the falls is the toughest but is worth it.  The
waterfall is absolutely beautiful.  You can stand beneath it and get the most refreshing of
nature's showers.  And then sit beside it a spell and watch the hummingbirds buzz around
the flowers growing in nooks and crannies in the cliff.

But Bonita Falls is also a place that gets abused...  This is a very popular place for people to
visit as is the main fork of Lytle Creek below.  When it's hot in the valley people love to
come up here and go wading and swimming in the creek and picknicking alongside it.  But a lot
of these people don't know/understand/and or practice principles such as pack-it-in,
pack-it-out and Leave No Trace.  The Forest Service does its best to educate them and
hand out trashbags but they only have limited people who patrol the area and they can only
do so much.  Good hearted volunteers do some work as well in the canyon.  Anyway, I found
some trash up at the falls which I fished out of the water and I had to work to crop out the
graffiti from some of these photos.  I met a mother and daughter up at the falls today who
said it wasn't always graffitied up there.  The last time they were up there in 2004 there
apparently was none.  Such a shame.  Well, I couldn't do anything about that today but I did
tote out the garbage I found.
Another hike to the falls April 2011

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