Cedar Creek Road - Falls

Cleveland National Forest, California

Distance3.7mi
Elevation Gain2,438ft
Trailhead Elevation2,939ft
Top2,939ft
Elevation Min/Max1688/2939ft
Elevation Start/End2939/2939ft

Cedar Creek Road - Falls

Cedar Creek Road-Falls is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in San Diego County, California. It is within Cleveland National Forest. It is 3.7 miles long and begins at 2,939 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 7.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,438 feet. The seasonal waste basket is near the trailhead. There are also parkings. The Nona Prospect (elevation 2,257 feet) quarry can be seen along the trail. This trail connects with the following: Eagle Peak Road and Boulder Creek Road.

Cedar Creek Road - Falls Professional Reviews and Guides

"The San Diego River and its upper tributaries drain the pastoral valleys and forested hillsides around Julian, and the rugged western slopes of the Cuyamaca Mountains. The water flows generally southwest through V-shaped canyons, and eventually reaches El Capitan Reservoir, not far from San Diego’s eastern suburbs.

Quite frequently the water en coun ters resistant layers in the underlying igneous and metamorphic rocks. In several places it tumbles over cataracts up to a hundred feet high. The grinding of stones trapped in pockets below these falls has created deep pools, or “punchbowls.” Cedar Creek Falls, along with its punchbowl, is one of the more attractive and accessible of these wonders."

"Here’s one of San Diego County’s hidden treasures, tucked back in a tributary of the upper San Diego River, accessible these days only by non-mechanized means of travel. Before the construction of El Capitan Dam in the early 1930s, the falls were a popular destination for Sunday outings, and could be reached relatively easily on an auto road up the San Diego River valley from Lakeside. This popular hike to Cedar Creek Falls from the east is rated “moderately strenuous.” Though experienced hikers might think that’s judging the route too harshly, inexperienced visitors routinely get into trouble on the return, simply because they forget to bring along plenty of drinking water for the sweaty, uphill climb back to the trailhead in afternoon heat."

"If your dogs like the water, they will love this area. While this is not a hidden hike, it certainly is a gem of San Diego County, even though at times it seems like everyone in San Diego is at the main swimming hole. The water here flows year-round, despite its low elevation, and while the best time of year to visit is during the spring, autumn can be quite lovely as well, often with thinner crowds. The base of the falls sits close to 1000 feet above sea level, and the temperatures here can sizzle, especially in the mid-day summer sun. It’s not a good idea to take a mid-day hike here when it is hot, but if you are beneath the falls during the hottest time of day, you’ll know exactly why this place is a treasure. The falls drop over 90 feet into the pool at the bottom, and in high rain years the cascade resembles a more northern locale rather than arid San Diego County."

Cedar Creek Road - Falls Reviews

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7/25/2018
The water is just trickling this time of the year but it's a beautiful hike, very pretty mountain scenery. It's not too steep, but so hot. I needed more water to drink than I thought I would. A permit is required.
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7/16/2018
I love this beautiful hike. There are lovely mountain vistas on the way down and it is a pretty decent work out on the way back. When it is hot it is even more of a challenge. There is very little shade here, so a hat, sunscreen, and LOTS of water are important.
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5/25/2018
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4/4/2017
Very beautiful when the falls are at full force. Recommend going after a rainfall, though the water may be too cold to swim in comfortably in the winter. Hike in is nice easy down slope. Have to go back up the same way but the gradual uphill isn't difficult.
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5/30/2010
Limited review: didn't make it very far. Finding the site is easy, I don't recommend a two wheel drive vehicle after watching a numbskull melt the tread off of his tires trying to climb the hill before sliding backwards into an unsuspecting patron's car. We attempted this trail with our dog and had to abort for the heat of the sand... her poor paws were getting burned less than a mile into the trek, necessitating a full retreat with her 56 pounds draped over my husband's very strong back. This was completely our fault as we weren't planning ahead appropriately and didn't think to bring her booties. The only reason I am posting is to serve as a warning to others to not make the same error. This is a sun-drenched trail for it's entirety and the sand gets very hot very early... bring PLENTY of water and booties for the dog. Several other dogs were also being carried out by their owners and more than one person looked as though heat stroke wasn't in the too distant future. This is a fabulous trail with a pot of gold at the end... as long as you plan appropriately.
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4/5/2008
Loved the hike although I got a little car sick getting to the trailhead via the Julian route!! This is a must for spring time but hardly doubt the water flow on the falls will be as strong as it was when we hiked in. Another group showed up and some of their kids jumped into the pool at the bottom of the falls. It looked pretty slimy and smelled fishy to me. I wouldn't recommend drinking any of the water without properly filtering. Best to bring your own. Hike in on the lower trail to the falls then later scramble up a narrow trail rock & dirt trail to the top for a sweet view of the whole valley and falls. I hope you like this one as much as we did!
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Cedar Creek Road - Falls Photos

Trail Information

Cleveland National Forest
Nearby City
Cleveland National Forest
Parks
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Accessibility
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Waterfalls
Features
West of Julian
Local Contacts
USGS 7.5-minute Santa Ysabel and Tule Springs
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018