Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Undercover San Diego: Cedar Creek Falls

This place is not the most secret place in San Diego but is worth listing because it is one of the better adventures in San Diego County. Cedar Creek Falls can get pretty crowded on holiday weekends and nice spring/summer weekends. If you hike during the week you have a chance at it being deserted. Remember you are going to a waterfall so "winter" or spring is the best time to see the falls flowing. Late spring and early summer are still nice to use a swimming hole because it is shallow and will warm up.
To get there you have 2 choices and each way is quite different:
Ramona Trailhead to get to the trailhead google map "15500 thornbush rd san diego ,ca". Elevation drop is about 900 ft in about 1.8 mi. Some sections are very steep and especially strenuous on the way out with no shade.
Julian Trailhead is located at the end of Eagle Peak Rd (google map "pine hills rd , Palomar-Julian, San Diego, California 92036")Eagle Peak Rd is dirt for about 10 miles until it dead ends at the trail head. This trail has about the same elevation drop (900ft) in 2.5 miles and is much more gradual but also doesn't have shade.

So take your pick Ramona - easy drive but harder hike or Julian - longer drive but easier hike

In the past, you have used the Ramona Trailhead because I don't like driving and I don't mind the hike (as long as its not 110 like it can be in the summer). The trail is obvious and has nice views of the canyon especially in spring with the wild flowers. When you reach the bottom of the canyon you will cross the San Diego River and continue straight. You then follow along Cedar Creek with a few crossings and some nice shade. You will soon see the falls and rather large swimming hole.
The rocks on the left as you face the falls are popular for jumping from. Caution should be taken because the water can be shallow especially after the recent fires. You can also swim up to the falls and slide down the lower portion. People have even jumped from the cliffs on the right but this is not recommended because of the recent shallow waters.

The hike out can be painful so make sure to stash some cold drinks in your car. And make sure you bring plenty of water on your hike because this area gets hot. Also you will need a Forest Adventure Pass to park by either trailhead (these are available at locally or on the internet)

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