Local

Upper falls area of Eaton Canyon close, fines begin

File photo: Hikers visit the waterfalls in Eaton Canyon Park on Wednesday afternoon, March 27.
File photo: Hikers visit the waterfalls in Eaton Canyon Park on Wednesday afternoon, March 27.
Molly Peterson/KPCC

The upper waterfall in Eaton Canyon was closed to the public starting Friday to keep people from scrambling up nearly vertical rock walls to get to it.

"This health and safety closure of the area surrounding the upper waterfall only applies to Forest Service lands," said Nathan Judy of the U.S. Forest Service.

Access will remain open to the lower waterfall, Judy said.

"In recent years, there have been a number of rescues, injuries and deaths associated with climbing to the upper waterfalls in Eaton Canyon," he said.

In 2012, authorities logged 60 rescues, and five people have died from injuries suffered in falls since 2011, Judy said.

NBC4 has footage of one hiker sliding down the sheer rock face. Fortunately, rescuers managed to airlift her out:

 

The Forest Service never maintained a trail to the upper falls because of the hazards of getting there, but people eventually made their own.

Anyone caught in the off-limits area, encompassing about 84 acres, will be subject to fines up to $5,000 with the possibility of six months in jail, Judy said. Sheriff's deputies and Forest Service rangers will be responsible for enforcing the restriction.