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.

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.

19 hours ago

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
2 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.

5 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
6 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.

6 days ago

Cañón de Guadalupe ta’ Cañón

6 days ago

Nice & easy

6 days ago

I live in South San Diego, close to San Ysidro area so this was a drive for me. Awesome first hike of 2018! It was chilly, check the weather before driving here. The view is amaaaazing! Easy trail with a bit of incline at the last half mile or so.

This was an amazing hike!! There was water!! The falls were amazing!! Def not suggested for the ill hearted or not fit... there is A LOT of full body esp upper body on the way back!! Bring plenty of water and time your hike!! Don't go to late in the morning because this is a long hike!!

7 days ago

This review is about leading up to Barker Valley Spur.

Google Maps took me through Half Way Rd, but DO NOT go through there, go down HWY 79 a bit further and turn into Palomar Divide Truck Trail.

There will be a gate. I got there on Jan 13, 2018 and the gate was closed. Unless if you're desperate or crazy, DO NOT hike from the gate, to the Barker Valley Spur trail head. Try to find another way (I believe there is another way since I saw a vehicle at the top of the hill). I made the mistake of hiking from the gate...

If you decide to hike from the gate, it's 8 miles of pure uphill. It starts off with some dirt terrain, then turns in concrete and back to dirt. This was brutal as it was literally all uphill for 8 miles (remember you have to hike 8 miles back). I'm relatively in shape but this took me about 4.5 hours to complete with a 30-40lb pack on. Google Maps estimates 4 hours by walking to get to the trail head but I don't think they incorporated breaks from the steep hill.

Once I got to the Barker Valley Spur trail head, the sun was setting so I hiked about 0.5 miles and found a camp spot. The next morning, my legs were pretty sore since I'm not use to hiking 8 miles of strictly uphill. I decided not to go down the trail since I would have to hike back up, and complete the additional 8 miles back to my car.

The 8 miles back was a lot faster since it was downhill, however, my feet took a toll since I was going downhill on mostly concrete.

I would recommend calling the district to find out whether or not the gate will be closed so you do not have to hike that additional unplanned 16 miles (round trip) like me.

Otherwise, the views along the Barker Valley Spur trail was beautiful and plenty of awesome spots to camp. I camped towards the beginning of the trail and woke up to beautiful view.

Lots of interesting history and there is a handout at the trailhead behind the Middle School that showcases a few of the historical sites. Super dry when we went but still enjoyable. Very easy hike, great for kiddos and furry friends!

Nice trail for a winter hike but it was quite warm today, about 78. Left at 7:30 when it was cool, finished by 12:30 and it was quite hot. Brought the dogs and found lots of TICKS on them - maybe from the recent rain? I would not have expected ticks this time of year. No water in the falls but a few puddles down stream from the rain.

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