Sill Hill Waterfall Trail is a 7.2 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Julian, CA that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is accessible year-round.
Holy moley. That's what I can say about this trail. It is so incredibly difficult. I tried to follow some of the maps and somehow got turned around. I took the advice of previous hikers and ended up finding the stacked rocks and tape along the trail. We went about 9 miles into the canyon down the rocks and had to turn around. We lost sight of the stacked rocks and I'm not sure we had adequate gear. We never found the waterfall. We did run into one rattlesnake going down the hill. Beware whenever the weather changes from cold to warm there will be a larger chance of getting bit since the snakes will be out and about. We unfortunately wore the completely wrong attire for the hike and went in shorts. I do not recommend that. We had to use a machete on some parts. There are some nasty ants over there that were eating us up. All in all, this trail really challenged me physically and I would like to find the waterfall. If anyone could tell me which path to take at the 3 road fork, that would be great. Also, someone has marked the beginning of the trail with purple markers that you'll continue to see on your way to the fork. The purple markers went down a different path than I did, so maybe the waterfall was that way. Somebody please let me know! I will be attempting it again soon.
We weren't paying attention and missed the trail to the waterfall, that's our fault. The grassy trail between the service roads was great. Very scenic views and the burnt trees are eerie. Reminded me of the elephant graveyard from The Lion King.
But the service roads and service roads as trails in general just don't appeal to me. Plus we passed/had to move off the road for multiple truck reforestation tours. Doesn't feel like a hike on a trafficked road.
I'd rate it as moderately difficult and with any hiking experience less so.
EASY HIKE as long as you stay on the service road! Beautiful scenery. Based on the reviews, my bf and I prepared ourselves for a strenuous hike but it was the opposite.
We found the trail to the waterfall but unfortunately we had to turn around! We were getting eaten alive by the ants & we had our dog w us which was getting irritated by the amount of brush. There's piles of rocks to the waterfall which makes it impossible to get lost. As I said it's not a strenuous hike but the way to the waterfall is more of a workout that the whole 7.8miles on the service road.
As for mountain lions - we did not encounter any. However, we did see a deer and a few turkeys.
**on the way back to the car we saw a few "no dogs" signs, not sure why but we're SORRY Sill Hills Faculty!!?!?**
Great hike. Waterfall is off another short path. Get "A Foot & A Field in San Diego" for all the details on this area...
Not very difficult, don't understand the note about experienced hikers only...
Beautiful hike. Couldn't find the waterfall though. I guess we need to look harder next time. Not quite difficult either, more of a moderate hike I would say.
Wow. That's what I've got to say. The initial hike was decent all around. There are plenty of trails to hit up the peak and around the mountain for some gorgeous views, but what really got me was the attempt to get to the waterfall.
In order to get to the trail (it's not really a trail at all!) you have to walk through Milk Ranch Road to the Middle Peak Loop Fire road. You keep going for about a mile and a half and it will be on your left. A large tree trunk blocks the way and there are rock piles left by previous hikers to mark the trail. To be honest, we completely passed it up before I realized we went to far. I was following Alejandro Muela's recorded track (it's the route to the falls) below and we backtracked and found it.
The "trail" is continually marked with rock piles (a total god send) but we only went about a quarter of a mile in until my husband and I looked at each other like "we need to be more prepared." We were running out of water, I tore my pants, and it was getting late... so we dejectedly left our mission to the waterfall unaccomplished.
We will be back, and next time we'll bring jeans, gloves, hiking boots, lots of water, swimwear, and a machete for the dead tree branches littered everywhere and blocking our path for the most part.
If you will attempt what we did and will do, be sure to wear long pants and a jacket... Poison oak is everywhere.
We will be back, and we will be ready.
Awesome. Long beautiful hike. Don't go if you're not in shape!
I can't believe it. I was browsing for more hikes to go on in this area and I saw the picture of the shelter I made while hiking this trail, lol. So I actually hiked to the top off the mountain and down the east side rather than turn down this trail. I went in February on a warm day a few days after it snowed. The first hour of the hike was fine till we got to the mud. 2 steps up and 1 slide back lol. Eventually we got to the ice and it was slippery and very steep. Took us almost all day. Beautiful hike though. Try to go about 2 weeks or so after it rains so the ground will harden back up.
P.S. Easy to find Trail Head for this hike BUT almost impossible to find the cutoff to the falls from the trail to the peak.
Attempted it twice. Have yet to reach the falls itself, but was about 100-200 feet above it at its source from La Purta spring. Blazed our own trail due to overgrowth. Great hike with great views. Will reach the falls this weekend for sure!
Great views. Follow the rocks to guide you that previous hikers placed.
We completed this hike on January 1st, 2014 to kick off the new year and wow was it amazing. It was tough but well worth it. Once you start your trek down the hill off of the main trail, don't give up and pay attention to the rock piles along the way. Make sure to bring snacks and plenty of water. A camera wouldn't be bad either. Oh! And keep your eyes on the trail for all sorts of animal prints.
I am familiar with this hike and have been to the falls many times. I just wanted to comment on the previous reviews...You need to be aware that bush whacking in the national forest is illegal as well as starting fires. Fires are not allowed anywhere in the Cleveland National forest except in campgrounds where posted and only in designated fire rings. The Cedar Fire that devastated this area was started by an illegal fire.
In this area you are also bypassing private property. Make sure you know where you are and do not trespass! You will be prosecuted.
This hike was extremely tough due to weather conditions and I would definitely rate it more on the difficult/strenuous side. The "trail" is very overgrown. There are, however, many markers (ribbons and rock piles) along the way to tell you you're on the right path. I took a picture of the "Trail" where it starts off of the fire road. Along the way we saw a lot of deer and turkey which was pretty awesome. We even saw a few mountain lion tracks so be very aware of your surroundings! I definitely don't recommend this hike for first timers or novice hikers. We brought a friend of mine out and it was his first hiking experience. He was dying on the hike back and was moving at an extremely slow pace.
Kyle Rogers and I hiked this in the rain on Saturday, 1/26/13. We headed along the northern fire road all the way to the peak and back down Middle Peak fire road, rapping around the west side of the peak. Half way down the fire road we encountered a pink ribbon on a bush, the first marker for the trail head off the road. We stacked up some rocks for better identification. The trail is very overgrown. We hacked a few bad spots, due to the rain and muddy slippery conditions this was a slow process. The trail is marked here and there with ribbons tied to branches as well as a few rocks stacked up on top of boulders. Completely drenched we reached the Fall. Rain stopping our attempt to start a fire and dry off we headed back to the fire road taking it to the east approximately 3 miles to the start of the hike. Along the way there was plentiful wildlife include 25+ deer, countless turkeys and birds of many different kinds. Our route took us 7.6 miles in total with a 1829ft elv gain. I would recommend this for experienced hikers, would NOT recommend attempting in the rain.
Just finished this hike. The trialhead is definitely well hidden; and actually it's not much of a trail. Just a bunch of rock piles that show the way. Thanks to Jaina(below) for stacking the rocks on top of a stump to mark the trail head. If not for that mark, we would have never found it. Overall it was a fun hike and the waterfall at the end was actually better than I expected.
Follow the rock piles!! That's the best advice I can give for this trail. We completely missed the trailhead because it is completely covered with bushed and fallen trees. We, however, placed a huge rockpile at the trailhead so others wouldnt make the same mistake we did. The hike is difficult, but the views, peacefulness, and the waterfall at the end definitely made it worth it.
There are perks to this trail. Such as, No crowd. This being said the trail down to the falls is hard to find from the fire road. We bush whacked it and it was more like the brush, whacking us. Once we arrived at the falls, we found the trail.
The '03 fire has done a number on the place and they are doing controlled burning in the area. This being said it was a waste land, with beautiful views.
The trail down to the falls is somewhat hard to find still since the fire in 2003 wiped out the trail. Hikers have done a fairly good job of marking the path with rock piles and the occasional orange marker flags. It is not an easy hike from where you leave the fire road until you get back on it but it definitely is worth the trip. The total trip took us about 2000 ft. of elevation gain. It was nice to do a hike where we didnt see anyone else. Great hike!