Eaton Canyon is one of the most spectacular in the entire San Gabriel range, and offers a wonderful canyoneering adventure for those with the requisite skill set. The canyon is well known for the interesting Eaton Canyon Nature Center and for the short and easy 1.5 mile hike to a beautiful waterfall, covered on this site in the write up Eaton Canyon Falls. There is also a much longer and more demanding hike that begins at the Nature Center, travels up the Mt Wilson Toll Road (a historical toll road that is a trail now) and drops into Eaton Canyon at Idlehour Trail Camp. In addition, it’s possible to drop into the canyon from the very top near Eaton Saddle, covered in an adventure hike write up on this site called Upper Eaton Canyon Hike.
The topography and geology of Eaton Canyon form a significant physical barrier to entry at the base of the Lower Falls. Although people have ventured above this for years on dangerous unmaintained trails, it is now closed beyond the lower falls, except for those with permits, because of the number of injuries and deaths that have occurred in its upper reaches.
But for canyoneers this waterfall is the last in a series that begins far back up stream. Between the Idlehour Trail Camp and the Lower Falls the stream has carved through the solid rock for millennia as it descends steeply from lofty heights, forming dramatic narrow gorge segments with soaring walls, lovely deep pools, and glorious waterfalls.
The aforementioned topography and geology make this portion of the canyon accessible safely only to those with canyoneering skills. In fact, there are portions that are essentially impossible to access without technical rope skills. The video below, taken on a permitted canyoneering trip on Monday 2/2/2015, highlights one of these magnificent hidden gems.