Chiquito Falls, CNF

A tough 9+ mile hike.

July 15th, 2013

Aj called me on Friday saying she would like to hike Crystal Cove in the morning. I always enjoy hiking there so I said sure, she of course wanted to sleep in till 10:00. I like to be on the trail by 6:00, but I said okay. Driving over to Ladera Ranch to pick Aj up, I notice the wind was really blowing down towards the beach. Once I arrived at Aj’s I let her know about the wind and told her that we should try a hike off of Ortega Highway, she still wanted to hike at Crystal Cove, but in the end she agreed to a Chiquito Falls hike.

I’ve hiked to Chiquito Falls a few years ago, it was April of 2011, and the water was flowing. I remember it being a tough hike. It’s a 9-mile out and back hike, 4.5 miles to the falls, 3 + miles of that is uphill. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal, but we hit the trailhead at 11:00. The sun was out and it was a little hot. I still kept my routine the same as if I was starting out at 6:00am, and that being a light breakfast which includes an egg and some coffee, I would eat a banana and a balance bar, plus drink plenty of water during the hike.

We started off and within a the first 1⁄2 mile we’re at Ortega Falls, the water wasn’t flowing... right then I knew there would be no water at Chiquito Falls, but I was looking forward to a nice tough hike. Aj wasn’t happy that the tail is a single track trail. Recently we’ve ran into at least 6 different rattlesnakes on four different hikes. So she was afraid of being too close to the edge of the trail where the rattlers normally are.

The first 4-miles was fun. It’s really beautiful out there and we’re halfway up the hill and the views are amazing. We both started getting a little tired, it’s a tough uphill hike and we really haven’t eaten anything except for an egg and banana, we both split a balance bar and continued on. We were at the falls 30 minutes later, of course there was no water, but it was nice to have made it. We hung out there for about 15 minutes and headed back. I was so looking forward to the nice lunch and ice tea that we had waiting for us back at our car.

Hiking back seemed like it was taking forever. We were both looking forward to the hike back as it was mostly downhill, but it seemed like we were on an escalator to nowhere. We could see the valley floor where we were hiking to, and it seemed never to get closer, again it was really hot out and we were sweating and tired, but we kept on moving forward. About a mile from the trailhead we had to stop and rest, again this is not normal on a 9-mile hike which is something we do all the time, we never get this tired. After our rest, we started up the last hill. We made it back to the parking lot about 30 minutes after our rest. We were beat! We drank our ice cold ice tea, and our sandwiches and Aj told me that she;s never hiking Chiquito Falls again.

I was a tough hike for a few reason, we got a late start, we didn’t really have a good breakfast before starting out, and we didn’t drink enough water during our hike. On hikes where you’re sweating a lot you need to force yourself to drink more than you want. 

Would I recommend this hike? Yes. Just get an early start, try and hike during the rainy season, and take your time. I’ll hike this trail again, probably in January.  

You'll need your National Forest Adventure Pass to park here, you can pick one up at the candy store next to the parking lot or at your favorite outdoors store.

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