Hiking Cedar Creek Falls: San Diego’s Most Popular Waterfall

Cedar Creek Falls is a famous waterfall in San Diego County. As an amazing rock and water spectacle, it plunges 80 feet down into a pool of water. If you love hiking, this is an exciting place that you should visit. I can promise that you will not regret your trip! Go, give it a try. Perhaps, you have already made up your mind about taking this hike and are looking forward to it. You need to know what to consider for this venture.


You will need a permit for the hike. At the trailhead, you may meet someone who will confirm whether or not you actually got one! It's that important! Only 75 permits are allowed in a day, so prepare in advance. You don't want to be disappointed at the last minute. Each permit only allows five people. Only those individuals listed will be allowed to hike. You can buy your permit here. Adults are required to carry photo identification that has been issued by the government. Minors must be in the company of a parent


Cedar Creek Falls is dry most months of the year. Water only flows here when it rains, so be sure to carry plenty of water in order to avoid dehydration. The area does get extremely dry and hot. However, if you visit the falls during spring, you may not deal with dry and hot weather. Then, there is plenty of water, but be mindful of possible stormy weather.

Hats and Sunblock

If you decide to take this hike during the summer, remember to wear sunscreen. Summer heat can zap your energy and make trekking at normal speeds difficult. A hat with a brim is also a huge help in shielding your face, neck and shoulders from the sun. These efforts will help keep your body cool.

What to Know Before You Hit the Trails

The Hike To The Cedar Creek Falls

The entire hike is a strenuous six-mile trip, offering two trailheads. On the way to the falls, you will go downhill without shade. On your way back, it’s an uphill walk in either direction. If you are not regularly active, this hike might turn out to be one of the most difficult tasks you have completed as yet. Pack plenty of snacks and a gallon of water per hiker. You will definitely need them as you hike this trail! You will want to save your energy for enjoying the views!

The Trails

You will find two paths to Cedar Creek Waterfall. The first one is the main trailhead which is called the San Diego River Gorge Trailhead. It starts from Ramona. You may encounter shaded shelters and water on this trailhead. The trail also has pit latrines. A second entrance is located via the Saddleback Trailhead. You can bring your dog on a leash. However, you must consider that temperatures may become too hot in the warm months for furry friends. They may not be able to endure this one in the summer. Heatstroke does cause canine deaths.

The Difficulties

If you choose to take this hike during the summer, consider that temperatures can reach well over 100 degrees. For the first time hiker, it may be best to enjoy this one in the cooler months. High heat can easily drain your energy.

The Presence of Rattlesnakes

The Cedar Creek Falls Area is known to have a lot of rattlesnakes. If you see one, do not agitate it. Keep your distance and let it slither away. Snake bites are fatal, and it may be difficult to get the required medical attention in good time.

Swimming Is Allowed!

Love the water? Here's your chance. You can swim in the pool area beneath the falls. So bring your swim suit lest you miss such an amazing experience. In the summer, the falls do not run regularly. Water may only fall at a trickle if it rains. The pool area is stagnant and algae is present. Do not drink water from the pool or from the falls.

Beware of the Rules.

  1. Do not carry or consume any alcoholic drinks.
Alcohol is not allowed on this hike. You need to consume plenty of water on this hike anyway.
  1. Do not jump from the rocks and cliffs.
You are not allowed to jump from the rocks and cliffs. Severe injury and even death can occur as a result. Watch your step in all areas and remember that algae can cause rocks to be slippery near a waterfall.
  1. Do not start campfires.
Starting campfires anywhere in the Cedar Creek Falls Area is illegal. San Diego offers numerous fantastic sites. Without any doubt, Cedar Creek Falls tops the list of things to do in San Diego County. Do not waste a moment deciding if this will become your next hiking adventure!