“This is San Diego’s most famous waterfall hike.”
— Matthew Kidd
Swimming · Views · Waterfall
Most of this hike is on a forest service road that is closed to vehicular traffic. Most hikers go for the waterfall as the hike to and from the waterfall is stark.
Need to Know
A permit is required
since 2014. Take plenty of water. Dogs are permitted but strongly discouraged because several die every year
from the heat.
There is very little shade and temperatures can reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit from May through November. These conditions are clearly indicated at the trailhead where hikers are told to carry one gallon of water. Several hikers have died on this trail from heat stroke. Keep in mind that your return is a climb and that you'll likely be leaving near the hottest part of the day.
Starting at the trailhead, the trail descends gently along the Eagle Peak Road
for roughly 2 miles before turning east and heading to the falls. This descent, while gradual, is exposed. This means that you have some nice views down into the river valley, but it also means that this section can be quite hot and dry.
At just over 2 miles, turn left onto the San Diego River Gorge Trail #2e04
. This trail flattens out and winds along Cedar Creek, taking you to Cedar Creek Falls, a nearly 80-ft cascade that drops into a wide pool at the base of the falls. From the falls, visitors can enjoy their towering height and, during wet years, sizable flow.
After enjoying the falls, return to the trailhead the way you came, keeping in mind that the hike out will be mostly uphill.