Hike to Bonita Falls near Lytle Creek, San Bernardo National Forest, South California

Bonita Falls

Bonita Falls is a 2.4 km or 1.5 miles long fun hike with features like awe-inspiring, and lush green scenery, magnificently gushing waterfalls, beautiful valley views, and the all-inspiring nature.The elevation gain of this trail is 334 feet or 102 meters and it is located in Lytle Creek, San Bernardo National Forest, South California. The maximum altitude above sea level that you will reach during this hike is 3500 feet or 1067 meters. I would rate the difficulty level of this entire trail as easy and takes about 1.5-2 hours to complete this hike. This is a loop trail which starts and ends at Bonita Falls Trailhead.


334 ft


2.4 km


1.0 Day








Bonita Falls Trailhead



Terrain Information & Trail Conditions

The elevation is very low and the trail isn’t very steep. This can be termed as medium difficulty in terms of the inclination of the route. You can get a great cardio workout done on this trail. The trail has little to no shade throughout the route and thus the sun exposure is extreme. This trail involves crossing of river stream which will be a refreshing experience for you! This trail has dry and sunny weather conditions. If you want to witness the best weather conditions, visit this trail between March to October.

Bonita Falls is a high-traffic trail. Therefore, try to start as early as possible to avoid congestion. There are no restrictions on maximum quotas on the number of people allowed. The trail is not straight forward so you must carry a physical map and a compass, or a digital route in your phone. Please note that this is not a well maintained trail. Therefore, hiking trails can be rough, broken, rocky, and uneven surface, as they can not maintained regularly as walking paths in cities. Always make sure you have proper shoes in order to avoid injuries and provide comfort to your feet.

Who Can Visit This Trail?

A little Girl Hiking in Jungle with leashed Dog

Bonita Falls Trail is suitable to bring dogs along. However, please ensure that they are fit enough to embark on this hike. Your dogs cannot communicate this but when they are hiking alongside you, they require frequent hydration just like you do. Keep them hydrated and well-fed. Additionally, it’s always safer to keep them on the leash.

This is a kid-friendly hike which means it is easy/moderate grade, short, and comes with a lot of rewards. That said, always take into consideration you kid’s ability to walk and carry lots and lots of food and water.

If you want to do some trail running or nature walking, this can be a trail that’s suitable for you.

If you love watching birds then you’re going to love this place. You can find varieties of birds like multiple varieties of Woodpeckers, Sapsuckers, Owls, Pigeons, Quail, and Mexican Whip-Poor-Will.

Entry Information & Parking Details

The entry fee of $5 can be paid at the entrance of the park. Parking facilities are available for free. Camping is permitted but it’s always good idea to talk to the park authorities before planning this. You can contact them here: 800-862-2543

Route Description

San Bernardino National Park

Trail Restrictions

Hiking on this route remains closed from https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/sbnf/alerts-notices. So if you are planning to visit the Bonita Falls during these months, confirm with the local authorities before planning your travels.

How to Reach the Trail-head?

You can drive your car up until this point. Use GPS to get to this point. If you follow the directions correctly, you can get here easily.

Resources and Facilities Available

I recommend you to carry 2-3 litres of water when you’re hiking on this trail because there are no sources of water available.

Safety Guidelines

Keep a close watch on kids and dogs near the waterfall and find shallow spots to enjoy the water. Sightings of snakes such as Garter snakes, Ringneck snakes, North American Racer, Western Rattlesnake, North Rubber Boa, Gopher snake, Coachwhip, Striped Racer, Coast Mountain Kingsnake have been done in this area so keep an eye out for these reptiles. Never try to intimidate the snakes. Wild animals found in this region are American Beaver, Mule Deer, Bighorn Sheep, American Black Bear, Common Raccoon, Bobcat, Coyote, Mountain Lion and more animals. Stay safe and have a word with the local authorities to take precautionary measures for dealing with the wild animals.

As long as you are aware about the route and are carrying either a physical map or a digital map, you can do this hike pretty much on your own without hiring any guide.

There are no specific technical requirements for this hike.

Things to carry

In addition to the usual hiking gear, we recommend you pack a rain jacket, and sun protection.

Here is the list of typical hiking gear that you must carry for all the hikes:

  1. 2-3 Liters of water
  2. Sun hat or cap
  3. Good Hiking boots
  4. Light snacks to munch on during breaks, Trail Mix, Fresh fruits / Dried fruits such as dates, figs / Nuts mix, etc. for eating along on the trail
  5. Personal medications and a first-aid kit
  6. Sun goggles
  7. Wet tissues
  8. Cameras (optional)
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