Tenaja Falls

Tenaja Falls

A majestic waterfall tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this is a great spot to visit after a wet winter and will sometimes last into the summer. A beautiful drive followed by an easy to moderate 2.5 mile round-trip hike through San Mateo Wilderness. You may see different lengths of the trail while looking online, this is because there is a longer option which you can hike from farther South which adds on another 4 miles round-trip.

To get here from Orange County, take Ortega Highway towards Lake Elsinore, make a right onto South Main Divide Rd. You will take this for 16.3 miles, on what turns into a single lane paved road so you will need to drive very slowly as there could be vehicles and motorcycles from the opposing direction. While the road does become narrow and windy, it is paved the whole way and is accessible by all vehicles, however there are some pot holes which you can avoid if needed. You will also pass an OHV area on the left side

Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls

At 16.3 miles from Ortega Highway, you will come to a parking lot on the right side. Park here and this is where your hike will begin. There is a small box where you will need to sign in. The total hike is about 2.5 miles round-trip.

Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls

Along the trail, you will come across a creek crossing wish is below the waterfall so if there is moving water there, then the waterfall will be flowing, you will also come across a couple large boulders which you can hop over or navigate around, the trail then begins to ascend slowly where you will have a great view of the surrounding forest and have a breathtaking view of the falls about a half mile before you arrive at the waterfall.

Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls

The first view of the waterfall is pretty spectacular and is a great spot to stop a relax for a few minutes before continuing on to the falls. From the waterfall, you can look back and see the parking lot.

Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls
Tenaja Falls

After you finish the hike, instead of back tracking and driving back the same route, continue back down South Main Divide Rd. where you will pass another parking lot for hiking, at this location you'll find a great place to relax under a tree and have lunch. Keep going on the road where you'll soon arrive at the town of Tenaja, make a left at both dead ends you'll get too and enjoy the beautiful town with many estates and horses, you will end up on Clinton Keith Rd. and then make a left onto Grand Ave. which you will take for several miles until you hit Ortega Highway where you will make a left. A great scenic lunch spot called "Lookout Roadhouse" will be on the right side as you ascend the highway and is the perfect place to get a sandwich and relax while overlooking Lake Elsinore. From the waterfall to Lookout Roadhouse is 46 miles. On the way back, why not check out two more waterfalls and make it a trifecta? Ortega Falls and San Juan Falls which re both short and easy ventures.

  • Tenaja Falls