Best dog-friendly hikes in Southern California

Mt Waterman & Cooper Canyon Falls


I’ve been wanting to hike Cooper Canyon Falls for a while but the hike being only 3 miles, I couldn’t justify 3 hours of driving. Then I found out that our friends Mikako and Gin haven’t hiked Mt Waterman. Since they are next to each other, we decided to tackle both on the same day together.

We were joined by a few more people and pups on the Mt Waterman hike. We hiked the loop clockwise which is my favorite way to hike this. It was even better than I remembered.


There was a stream that wasn’t there before and some patches of snow still covering sections of the trail before reaching the peak. Since I’ve done this hike before, it wasn’t too hard to find the trail.


Pups enjoyed cool breaks in the snow though. To Gin, who’s never seen snow before, it was a gigantic shaved ice. So cute!

Photo credit: @miffydoggy

Xena, of course, was all cool about it.


Normally where there is an empty hole, there was a reservoir this time. You get one good productive wet winter and this whole place looked like a different place!

Non-water dog’s dilemma: Can you see 4 dogs near the water?

We had a good group and everyone got along well.

Doing her own thing as usual. Haha

After finishing the 6-mile loop, we went back to the car to regroup. After we said bye to the rest of the group, Mikako and I drove to the Cooper Canyon Falls trailhead.

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Burkhart Trail to Cooper Canyon Falls

We missed the road to the trailhead from the Hwy 2 because the road to the campground was closed for the season. We didn’t know that! So we parked at the turnout across from the gated road and started our hike from the Hwy 2 instead. This added an additional 3 miles to the total distance of the hike.

If you are driving to the trailhead, once you are in the Buckhorn campground, follow the sign for Day Use Parking then the sign for Burkhart Trail. There is a good size parking lot at the trailhead and a vault toilet.

This easy 3-mile hike is partly shaded, well-maintained and easy to follow.



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For some reason, Xena was fascinated by this huge log on the side of the trail. Then Gin joined in. When they reached somewhere in the middle, Gin froze and didn’t want to go any further. They stayed stuck to each other like this for a little bit then Xena understood the dilemma. These two walking backward slowly in perfect synchronization all the way to the beginning was the funniest (and the sweetest) thing I’ve seen in a very long time.

When you reach the Pacific Crest Trail junction, go to your right. The waterfall is very close. Although it’s an easy hike, a short steep descent to the waterfalls at the end could be challenging if you have a knee issue. There is a rope for you to hold on to when you are going down.


When you are ready, go back the way you came in. It’s an out and back trail. Our bodies might’ve been tired but our spirits were high and positive. We had a wonderful time exploring a new place (to us) with our girlfriends and we are looking forward to more adventures together!



Cooper Canyon Falls Trail Stats:

  • Hike Date: 4.2.17
  • Trailhead: 34.347520, -117.911028 (copy and paste it to your GPS)
  • Distance: 3.1 miles RT (6 miles RT from Hwy 2)
  • Elevation Gain: 638 feet (1,350 feet from Hwy 2)
  • Difficulty Rating: Moderate
  • Parking: California Adventure Pass ($5/daily) required
  • Notable: Waterfalls, stream crossing
  • Paved road to the campground is closed to the cars during winter
  • Recommend an insect repellent during summer

After logging a little over 20 miles in two days, these booties were done. Thanks for protecting her little paws!


Get Our Comprehensive Dog-friendly Trail List Here. Enjoy!

Happy Hiking!

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