We have been notified that our permit has been cancelled, and the area is not open to the public!
Cedar Creek Falls: West Approach
Distance 5.2 miles (out-and-back)
Hiking time 3 hours
Elevation gain/loss 1,100'
Difficulty Moderately strenuous
Trail Use Dogs allowed
Best times November - April
This hike requires a permit so all participants must be registered in advanced.
Use either Wildcat Canyon Road (from Lakeside) or San Vicente Road (from Ramona) to reach the San Diego Country Estates housing development, which begins about 1 mile east of the intersection of the two roads. Follow San Vicente Road nearly to its dead end, and turn left on Ramona Oaks Road. Continue east on Ramona Oaks Road 2.9 miles to Thornbush Road and turn right. Follow Thornbush Road to where it terminates at the Cedar Creek Falls Trailhead (adventure Pass Required).
Starting from the Cedar Creek Falls Trailhead, hike downhill on the well-maintained single track trail. The scenery in unremarkable at first, but at 0.9 mile, the trail rounds a bend, and dramatic views over the expanse of the San Diego River Gorge unfurl before you. The trail begins switchbacking, trending east, down a sun-blasted slope that can produce a fine wildflower display during springs. At 2 miles, the trail reaches the banks of the San Diego River, which can be anywhere from bone dry to a gushing torrent, depending on recent rainfall. After crossing the river, the trail will reach a four-way junction with Eagle Peak Road about 0.3 mile later.
Continue across Eagle Creek Road to follow Cedar Creek from its confluence with the San Diego River into a beautiful, cottonwood-framed "punch bowl." The U.S. Forest Service now outlaws alcohol consumption and diving in this area, so aquatic activity should be limited to swimming. Following heavy rains, the falls will thunder over the cusp of the punch bowl, though the flow dimities to a trickle by summer.
Don't forget to your 10 essentials, and bring along a lunch.