This popular hike is near Santa Paula, CA. It begins from the Santa Paula Canyon Trailhead, and half the hike is in Los Padres National Forest. National Forest Boundary Line starts 1.5 miles from the trailhead. You don’t need a permit to park or hike to Santa Paula Punch Bowls.
The parking lot at the trailhead was pretty small and packed. Even though it was a weekday, it was during spring break, so there were more cars than I expected. We parked at an overflow parking lot nearby and walked to the trailhead.
This hike is popular as all the hikes with water features are, so I recommend going on a weekday morning if your schedule is flexible.
The trail was easy to follow.
Although the parking lots were full, we didn’t run into anyone on the trail. That was very nice.
After 1.5 miles, we entered Los Padres National Forest.
Xena and Coco staying on the trail in a single file. Too cute.
Although you cross the Santa Paula Creek a few times, it’s not enough to keep the dogs from overheating during summer. I recommend doing this hike during the cooler months if you are doing it with your dog, as the trail is mostly exposed.
Xena found cool grass to roll in while I was taking photos.
We hiked 3.2 miles in, and we were very close to the main punch bowl, but we decided not to join the big gathering there. Instead, after Big Cone Campground, when we reached the creek, we found a secluded spot with shallow water with a doggie-size waterfall for our not-so-water dogs. The water was cool and refreshing.
It was warmer than Xena and Coco would like on the way back, even though it was only early April. We will go back when it’s cooler. That was a pretty hike!
One tired and dirty but happy pup!
Good to Know:
- Hike Date: 4.6.21
- Distance: 6.5 miles RT
- Elevation Gain: 1,040 ft.
- Difficulty Rating: Moderate
- Max Altitude: 1,735 ft.
- Fee/Permit: None
- Trailhead: Santa Paula Canyon Trailhead (34.427683, -119.091191)
- Notable: out and back, no restroom, stream crossing, mostly exposed