Our First Hike to Tenaja Falls near Murrieta, CA

We visited Tenaja Falls near Murrieta for the first time today. Tenaja Falls is located in the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness area of the Cleveland National Forest.

Here is a recap of our hike in pictures:

The Tenaja Falls trailhead…

Tenaja Falls

Here is the trail map on the board at the Tenaja Falls trailhead (click for an online map). Notice the Teneja trailhead at the bottom of the map. We drove past that one, and headed to the Tenaja Falls trailhead at the top left of the map.

Tenaja Falls

Here are the directions to the Tenaja Falls trailhead as provided by the US Forest Service:

DRIVING DIRECTIONS FROM I-15 TO TENAJA, FISHERMAN’S CAMP AND TENAJA FALLS TRAILHEADS:
I-15 to Clinton Keith road, go west. Clinton Keith becomes Tenaja Road after 2 miles. Stay on Tenaja Road for another 8 miles to Cleveland Forest Road. Turn right on Cleveland Forest Road one mile to Wilderness boundary and Tenaja trailhead parking. Road becomes South Main Divide (7S04). Fisherman’s Camp trailhead is another 3 miles north along road. Tenaja Falls trailhead is another 2 miles north. Ortega Highway (Hwy 74) is 15 miles north of Tenaja Falls.

The road to reach the trailheads is a single-lane road with turnouts, ruts, cliffs and blind curves. Cars going in the opposite direction can appear very quickly as shown in this video from our drive back from Teneja Falls…

A few rules and warnings…

Tenaja Falls

Tenaja Falls

The start of the trail…

Tenaja Falls

Inside this box is a clipboard with a sign-in sheet…

Tenaja Falls

We had no problems following the trail…

Tenaja Falls

Tenaja Falls

Over rocks…

Tenaja Falls

Across a creek (I slipped on a loose rock on the way back, but I saved my phone and camera)…

Tenaja Falls

A few more pictures along the trail…

Tenaja Falls

Tenaja Falls

Tenaja Falls

Our first view of the waterfall…

Tenaja Falls

Tenaja Falls

Tenaja Falls

Tenaja Falls

This is located at the top of the waterfall. I assume that you could read the elevation at some point…

Tenaja Falls

I saw this lizard hanging out at the top of the falls…

Tenaja Falls

This is the top portion of the waterfall. Although the rocks are very slippery and the fall could be disastrous, a bunch of people climbed down to wade in this pool…

Tenaja Falls

We didn’t wade in the pool, but we did climb down to stick our feet in the running water…

Tenaja Falls

Tenaja Falls

One last view on our way back out…

Tenaja Falls

Since we went on a Saturday, there were quite a few people on the trail. Everyone we met was friendly. We had a few people offer to take pictures of us, and one person even gave us a hand climbing back up to the top of the falls. Our trail shoes work great on the dirt, but were horrible on the slick rocks. If you go, please be careful.

Looking for more hiking spots in and around the Inland Empire? Check out our list of Places to Hike in Riverside and Beyond.

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