Cooper Canyon Falls roars with the melting snows of each spring season, then settles down to a quiet whisper by summer. This year's near-normal but unusually late rainfall and snowfall in the San Gabriel Mountains means that you can cool off in the spray of the 25-foot cascade through July at least. These falls are one of the best unheralded attractions along the Angeles Crest.
The Burkhart Trail takes you quickly to the falls, downhill all the way (an 800-foot drop in elevation), and then uphill all the way back. The forest traversed by the trail is dense enough to give plenty of cool shade for most of the unrelenting climb back up.
From Interstate 210 in La Cañada, drive 34 miles up Angeles Crest Highway (Highway 2) to the Buckhorn Campground entrance road -- at mile 58.3, according to the roadside mile-markers. Drive all the way through the campground to the far (northeast) end, where a short stub of dirt road leads to the Burkhart trailhead. You must display a National Adventure Pass on your parked car there.
The trail takes off down the west wall of an unnamed, usually wet canyon garnished by two waterfalls. The first -- a little gem of a cascade dropping ten feet into a rock grotto -- is easy to reach by descending from the trailside. The second, some 30 feet high, is dangerous to approach from above, but is reachable from below by scrambling up the canyon bottom from Cooper Canyon.
At 1.2 miles, the trail bends east to follow Cooper Canyon's south bank. Continue another 0.3 mile, down past the junction of the trail (Pacific Crest Trail) that doubles back to follow the north bank upstream. Look or listen for water plunging over the rocky declivity to the left. A rough pathway leads down off the trail to the alder-fringed pool below.
Soak your feet in the shallow pool, or get right under the spray of water itself, which is likely to be icy cold until later this summer.