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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Hikers React to Canyon Dangers

A number of deaths and rescue missions are striking hiking trails across Los Angeles.

It’s not just the exercise that draws Ali Husain and his kids to Eaton Canyon – it’s the escape. So neither the towering cliffs, the rocky slopes, nor the trails bother them.

“This is a very easy hike just up to this waterfall, so I don’t see how someone could get lost,” he said.

But even in the daylight many people have, in fact, gotten lost – and worse. At least five hikers died at the canyon in the past two years, and one 17-year-old girl fell hundreds of feet to her death in March, leaving many people shaken.

“It’s really unfortunate that people have had those types of experiences out here,” said Laura Salisbury, a regular hiker at the Canyon. “I think a lot of it unfortunately is being ill-prepared.”

Salisbury has been hiking for four years, and she’s learned a few safety tips along the way, like keeping an extra poncho in her bag for weather changes and avoiding cotton clothes in case she gets stuck in the rain.

Still, she says there are too many people who don’t think ahead.

“You always see people try to do more than what they’re capable of, especially over at the waterfalls. They like to scale rocks that they have no business climbing because they’re slick with moss and algae, and they fall. There’ve been a couple of times where people have been pretty badly injured.”

Many hikers aim to at least reach the first waterfall, but getting there requires leaving the official trail and climbing past piles of slippery rocks.

 “At times it felt like a scene out of a horror movie, where it felt like, okay, Jason is going to pop out at any moment,” hiker Michael Turner said, reflecting on his journey to the waterfall. “But, as long as you follow the main avenues of approach, you will get here.” 

Still, Ali isn’t worried about any danger. “They’re not being intelligent about it,” he said.

For him and his kids, a little caution, a whole lot of snacks, and a quick break are all that are needed for the sake of a safe adventure. 


This is so cool! Great reporting. I really want to go there now! And I'll be safe of course :)

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