nature trips


wild flowers

dogs on leash


trail running


mountain biking

kid friendly

dog friendly

horseback riding


off road driving


no dogs




Cleveland National Forest is the southernmost National Forest in the state of California. The Forest encompasses 460,000 acres in divided into the Descanso, Palomar and Trabuco Ranger Districts and is in the counties of San Diego, Riverside, and Orange County. The U.S. Forest Service requires National Forest Adventure Pass for parking in many areas of the Cleveland National Forest. Popular activities include enjoying the picnic areas, hitting up the hiking trails up Laguna Mountain and Palomar Mountain, horseback riding, mountain biking. This is also a great place for camping. The Cleveland National Forest has campgrounds in the Descanso, Palomar, and Trabuco Ranger District as well as dispersed camping for a fee. Visitors can also take a drive along the Sunrise Scenic Highway and off roaders will enjoy the Corral Canyon and Wildomar Off-Highway Vehicle Areas. The forest makes a great weekend trip from Los Angeles or other Southern California cities and is a great way to take in the Santa Ana Mountains.

Accomplished this one in 2013

accomplished this one in 2012 it was really rewarding

gate was closed about 2 miles up.

Nothing to see there, not much panoramic views... no wonder is all alone. Pine mountain not for me- Garnet Peak is in a higher level though

Beautiful hike through gorgeous forest land. Begins rather flat through a wooded area with oaks and scrub. Lots of shade intially. Then you go past a running creek and eventually get to the climb. It’s switchbacks and more exposed as you climb to the top. The end of the trail is on a very open main divide road-you will see cars, motorcycles, and mountain bikers on the road. There were a few people on the trail today and we saw a group of mountain bikers, but compared to Holy Jim, this hike was far more peaceful. You’ll get to see Newport Coast and the ocean from the trail. Once at the top, you’ll also get to see the Sam Bernardino mountains-they were covered in snow today. Really an enjoyable hike. It took us about 2 hours to reach Main Divide Rd. We walked a bit of the road and then had lunch. Our climb down took just over an hour. Total trip was 4h and 8 miles.

Great views today. Right temperature. Great for 8 miler with golden retriever

Make sure you don't miss the sign to go down hill to the trail. coming back up was a killer.

it was chilly today, so bring a light sweater if you go before 9am. it was about 40-45 degrees when i went. beautiful hike and the waterfall had a nice flow.

Super accessible and, arguably, has one of the best views in the county. It will quickly become one of your favorite repeats.

Only did the loop, but didn't see another soul on a Friday afternoon. The leg of the trail to San Juan Falls should be called the Heavy Doodie Trail since it is littered with dog poo around every bend. For the love of hiking.. PLEASE pick up after your dog and carry out what you bag.

This was my first time here. This review will be good for first timers!

First off, you'll find yourself 12 miles on a dirt road. But don't worry, 2wd cars can make it! It's one of the smoothest dirt roads I've driven on.. Once I got there, I didn't see any signs saying that an Adventure Pass is required. However, I put mine up anyway. I didn't see other cars put up an adventure pass so I'm assuming it may not be required.

The trail starts all downhill (or mostly). There was one intersection where a few other hikers and I got lost. About 20 minutes into the trail, you'll find yourself at somewhat of an intersection with a trail in front of you. DO NOT go on that trail. Instead, look to your right, there is a trail at a sharp right, and there will be a GREEN ARROW on a rock. That is the right path!

Other than that, everything else was pretty straight forward with arrows. Once you get to the bottom of the waterfall, I would suggest going to the top of the first waterfall, crossing it so you're on the right side (facing the waterfall). On the right side, there are some trails that will lead to the very top of the waterfall! It is amazing up there!

For my recommendations - right now is the best time to go since it's cool and the waterfall is flowing. I would recommend long sleeve and long pants since there are some plants than can really scratch you. I would also suggest hiking boots/shoes. The reason is because there will be a VERY STEEP hill and you'll thank the treads on your hiking boots because the gravel is loose on that hill and it's hard to grip.

For my warnings - be ready to use your hands and do a tad bit of climbing! Not actually rock climbing but using your hands for support because there are some pretty steep areas.

For timing - I hiked to the very top of the waterfall, had some snacks with an amazing view, and hiked back in a little bit over 3 hours. However, I did move pretty fast up the hill so this hike can take up to 4 hours if you don't exercise/hike much.

Nice trail on a cool day. According to Strava, the distance was 7.1 mi, so a bit longer than what AllTrails claims.

I love it !!!!!

Did this hike for the first time it was easier than I thought. It is rated as hard but I think it is moderate it is not too strenuous and not too steep. The elevation is pretty Steep at times it’s a gradual climb up and down the mountain. Took my chance and didn’t get a permit as there is nobody down by the waterfall checking. It is only $10 and the fine is $180 so it makes sense to pay the $10 because they use it for the restoration of the trails anyways. You are allowed To hike the trail but you do have to have a permit to enter the Water Falls area. There are other trails that you can take. The Ranger told me there will be no water and he was right he said go after March when the snow was melting and it’s a better experience.All in all a great hike recommend bringing water going early as it does get hot. Beautiful scenery and beautiful sounds of nature. They must hike for everyone at least once. Happy hiking :)

Awesome views throughout the hike! It is a very steep and rocky trail. It gave me a good workout. Look for the trail log in a rusted aluminum can once you are at the end of the trail!

off road driving
4 days ago

Good off road Trail. The view from the peak is good on a clear day. Some hikers every now and then but mostly desolate. Needed 4wheel drive on the steep uphills because of traction but that was the only places.

Great hike went with a few friends. The trail once you get to the bottom of the waterfall is fun with rocks to climb. Water was flowing on all 3 falls. If you a first timer like myself the hike back up hurts but overall great hike . Definitely go with friends.

The trail is rocky, but worth the effort.

7 days ago

Headed up Garnet Peak from Penny Pines. Beautiful addition and the view from the top was unbeatable. Great view of the Salton Sea. Warning: it’s pretty breezy up top.

on Fred Canyon Road

off road driving
7 days ago

Started from the Kitchen Creek Road side and followed the trail to Morris Ranch and La Posta Truck Trail; I recommend the opposite route for a better challenge. I drive a Stock JKU Sport and had no issues on this trail but there are some fun spots where you can test your 4x4. There are a couple tight switch backs and a few steep rocky hills but most of the drive is relatively smooth and scenic. Definitely a good “get out of San Diego for the day” adventure.

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