Picturesque Cedar Creek Falls is located in Cleveland National Forest of eastern San Diego. The waterfall, which is about 100 feet (30 m) tall, plunges into a large pool, which attracts many swimmers in the summer.
Cedar Creek Falls can be reached by two short trails, both under 5 miles (8 km) and with an elevation gain of about 1000 ft (304 m). The west trailhead at 15519 Thornbush Road can be reached from Ramona, while the east trailhead at the Saddleback Hill can be reached from Julian. Cedar Creek Falls is so popular that Cleveland National Forest has to implement a permit system to keep it from being overcrowded.
When is the best time to visit Cedar Creek Falls
Cedar Creek Falls is highly seasonal. It looks the best during the rainy winter and in early spring. In the drier time of the year, it gets dramatically reduced or even dries out completely. By mid-May, the flow usually gets really weak. Also, in the summer months, it's harder to hike to the falls due to exposure to the sun. Additionally, you can expect larger crowds during warmer months since the pool at the base of the falls is a popular swimming hole.
Things to do at Cedar Creek Falls
Cleveland National Forest offers an array of outdoor activities all year round which includes fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, and hiking. San Diego River Gorge Area and Three Sisters Falls are among the most popular hikes in the area. There are numerous picnic sites and scenic outlooks, like Henshaw Scenic Vista Observation Site.
Where to stay at Cedar Creek Falls
Nearby Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and Cleveland National Forest operate a few campgrounds, most of which are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Most campsites charge a user fee to stay overnight. The campsites nearest to Cedar Creek Falls are Paso Picacho Campground, Green Valley Campground, and Laguna Campground.
When should you visit Cedar Creek Falls?
To see Cedar Creek Falls at its best, it is suggested to visit during the rainy winter and early spring, from November to April. During these months, the waterfall is stronger, but it gets weaker or completely dries in the drier months. The flow of the waterfall weakens by mid-May, so summer months can be challenging for hiking to the falls due to hot weather. Show more
What activities can you do in Cedar Creek Falls?
Cedar Creek Falls offers several outdoor activities all year round, like fishing, camping, mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking. You can explore popular hikes in the area like San Diego River Gorge Area and Three Sisters Falls. The Henshaw Scenic Vista Observation Site, as well as numerous picnic sites and scenic outlooks, are also available. Show more
What are the accommodation options near Cedar Creek Falls?
There are several campsites available near Cedar Creek Falls operated by Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and Cleveland National Forest. The Paso Picacho Campground, Green Valley Campground, and Laguna Campground are the nearest campsites, and some of them charge a user fee. First-come, first-serve is the basis for these campsites. In addition, San Diego is home to numerous hotels and vacation rentals for those unwilling to camp. Show more
What is the permit system and crowding like at Cedar Creek Falls?
Due to its popularity among hikers and swimmers, Cedar Creek Falls can become crowded in warmer months, especially at the base pool of the falls. There's a permit system in place to avoid overcrowding, so make sure to apply for one before visiting. Permits can be applied online and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Show more
Can you enjoy swimming in Cedar Creek Falls' pool?
Swimming is allowed in the pool at the base of Cedar Creek Falls, which is a popular swimming hole, but at your own risk. The rocks are slippery, and the water has a strong current. People have died or suffered serious injuries after jumping off the waterfall and rocks. As a result, it's essential to be cautious while exploring, and avoid diving into the water if it is not deep enough. Show more