Best Hike to an Elfin Grotto (2012)

Escondido Falls, Malibu

The hike to Escondido Falls starts in a dusty little parking lot just off Pacific Coast Highway on a road called Winding Way, and climbs up past sprawling homes with stables, batting cages and vineyards, through coastal scrub and chaparral, before descending into shady Santa Monica Mountain oak groves, which are home to cottontailed bunnies and fawns. The halfway point for the 4.2-mile trek is a spongy hollow bisected by a moss-covered, multitiered, 150-foot-tall waterfall. For best results, go after a good rain; in the dry season, the falls is reduced to a steady diamond drip. Trailhead starts about one block before the dead end of Winding Way, Malibu. —Tessa Stuart


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