Explore the most popular waterfall trails in Cleveland National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
1 day ago

I like that it's short, so if you just want to go for a few hours and not all day it's perfect.
I've been here a few times cause it's close. My dog loves it and she loves to climb so I like that it's an easy enough climb for her for me not to worry of her falling.
During the hotter seasons there's no water.. It dries up, during the cooler seasons after a good rain there usually is water.. It gets up to at least 2 feet of water.. More or less.
You can climb up the waterfall... Or down. I see Rock climbers there more so during the summer, which is pretty cool to watch. Usually pretty friendly also.
Downside is the tacky graffiti... If it were murals of something it'd be a different story maybe even liked by most... But it's just a bunch of stupid kids tagging their names and stupid kid-like drawings... It seems to be getting worse. Honestly I could do without the graffiti completely. Unfortunately it might not happen. Honestly there not much room for really good pictures because of it. Thankfully there are still some good spots but it's only a matter of time.
Teach your children not to deface nature and maybe, there will still be places of beauty left in the future.

All in all, I still love going here for my dog and I, easy rocky trail, steep but super short. Sometimes water, sometimes dry. Fun little outing.

Good hike, but be ready for a non existent trail and nature has taken over
No water
Great views

backpacking
20 days ago

Don’t count on any water at the bottom of the hike in.

23 days ago

Awesome trail. Gorgeous views.

Great hike with an awesome waterfall to play around or near. Fun little "pool" area at the base of the falls to cool down in. Our dog loved it too. If u do bring your dog go early because of the heat....and plenty of water for you and your pooch. Hike back wasn't too bad, the last .5 mile back was probably the hardest. Only saw one snake..

I highly recommend this hike but read the cautions below.
My fiancé and I went in April and had an amazing time. We are a young and fairly active couple and this trail was not extremely difficult but I can see how it’s difficult for others. I recommend to head out first thing in the morning as the afternoon sun is VERY hot and with the dry heat, it becomes unbearable. There’s barely no shade on the trail so when that sun is blazing, you’re completely exposed to the sun and heat. Come prepared with plenty of water and high energy food. We brought eight bottles of water each and went through 6 easily. The trail is a 1 person wide dirt trail with no barriers and minimal markers. I’m scared of heights and the trail made me uncomfortable at times when it was steep and if I fell I felt like it would be to my death of tumbling down the rocky side with minimal to no shrubs to stop my fall. Other areas of the trail were fine. As we got closer to the waterfalls, there was more shade and trees but larger rocks we had to climb over. We got to a point that we weren’t sure if we were on the right track as there wasn’t a distinct trail to follow nor markers, but then we would randomly find a ribbon on a branch.
At the end of the trail are the waterfalls, they are awesome. I would recommend to bring a swimsuit and a towel, freezing water but a great way to cool off. To get to the top waterfall you have to climb the rocks which are smooth and steep and only have a rope to help you up. Bring good gripping shoes and gloves (if you’re hands are on the sensitive side).
CAUTION!!!
So this trail is completely do able, but be SAFE. On our way we ran into a group in which one of the guys broke his leg and since there’s no signal, they had to carry him back to the car (in which there is still no signal in the parking lot and only signal after an hour drive back towards the highway). If you have a radio, I would recommend to bring a radio with you so you can call for help incase. The man broke his leg going down the old trail in which the rope was removed to prevent people from going down, sever accidents will entail if you try this. Do not rush down the ropes at the waterfall, I saw someone loose balance and almost flew into the tree and stones and would’ve broken his back or head if it wasn’t for his friend saving him from falling to his death. Like I said, be safe, go prepared, don’t be stupid, and you’ll survive without any issues.

Cool lil trail but as of July 7 it is bone dry.

Hiking boots, 3 liters of water, hat, and snacks are a good idea. You should be prepared doing this hike. It's very hot, lack of shade, loose trail, unstable ground. This is not a place for kids or dogs. The ground is 110 degrees so this could kill your pup. We had to carry a dog off the mountain before. Lots of dogs die hiking in the heat.
This is one of my favorite hikes. The new trail is as a lot easier, but I prefer the original route with the ropes. There is a total of 5 ropes to help you up and down the steep ledges. I bring gloves because it is rough on my hands.

Beautiful views. Make sure to purchase a permit. One permit for 5 people. Bring plenty of water and food. Don't forget your hat and sunscreen lotion because there are no shades. It was easy on the way down to the water fall. Yet, on the way back was a challenging. There was a little snake in the water. Be careful. I was there last week, July 1st.

I am just starting to hike and agree it is a moderate hike. Only downside was the heat, can get really hot so make sure you take lots of water and are hydrated before. On our way down to waterfall sun was out so I was pretty drained getting there, but on our way back up sun wasn't as strong and I was able to make it up easily. Took us a little under 2 hours both ways. Good hike overall.

March 26th 2018 the waterfalls were flowing and gorgeous everything green and birds are chirping

If you do this hike in the summer, start early, it gets very hot. Best to start by 6 am. Challenging hike but the view at the top is well worth it. Bring plenty of water, I drank almost 4 liters.

Nice tree cover on the earlier sections of the trail. Saw a decent amount of bikers and other hikers passing us in both directions on the trail. View at the top was very nice. Start early because it gets hot!

This was an awesome, but brutal hike!! Bring plenty of water/electrolytes, food/snacks and a bandana for the dust from trucks and motorcycles! I drank plenty of water on the way up but still ended up cramping pretty bad! We hit the trail head at 6:30am and it took us 9 hours! ✔️one off my bucket list! ✌

Didn’t get to the falls (couldn’t get a $10 permit) but nice hike nonetheless

6/23/18. Brutal hike for me. Make sure to bring a lot of water. Drank 9 bottles round trip. Pack a bandana to cover your mouth from the dust left behind motorbikes and trucks. Enjoyed the first half. Dirt and very demanding the last half, but I am 67, lol.
Went slow and it took 9 hours, 41,000+ steps!
Hike on a cool day, no shade near the top.
Very inspired when we made it.

backpacking
1 month ago

This review is more about car accessibility, dogs, water availability, and insects (especially bees).

Went on a little backpacking trip from 6/23-6/25/18. It was 80-85 degrees during the day and full sun. I brought my two very fluffy dogs with me and went 3 miles down the hill to the creek. I left the main trail and followed the trail to the left (south, downstream) one mile. One mile downstream there is a large oak perfect for climbing and very shady to set up multiple tents. And alright yes a campfire ring, but please DO NOT start a fire! Also there is a stone dam and tower and small sandy beaches to enjoy. To get there go just beyond the campsite, up and over the rocks. At the top is a lone cactus, at that point head down and walk along the creek to avoid the very steep hill down directly to the dam and tower. I saw 3 hikers total on my entire trip so a very secluded trail!!

There is minimal shade along the first 3 miles till you hit the creek. It is best to complete this portion of the hike before 930-10a. The shade is optimal then as the hill is basically west facing. The first mile or so has partial shade at least every 0.1 miles, then no shade for 1 mile, then spotty shade till the creek. It is gently sloping downhill, but nothing strenuous at all even on the way up. Took me two hours to do the 4 miles to the campsite and just under 2.5 hours back to the car. I did stop whenever the dogs wanted to and for however long they wanted. Walked at a very average pace.

Water- No water until one mile downstream (4 miles total). Currently there are several pools of water varying from 20 feet in length to only a few; they are up to 4 feet deep and are not flowing. Please be conservative and conscientious when using water to avoid washing any sunscreen, bug spray, and dish water into the pools. It is also very easy to mistakenly scoop up tadpoles, frog eggs, and fish! Critters of every size and class are trying to make it in and around there!

Car accessibility- I have a 2005 Hyundai Accent so low clearance and very compact. I did not find the road leading to the trail head to be very bad at all! Took me 50 minutes to go up and down since due to my vehicle I have to be very careful and thoughtful about how I drive up there. Definitely having a narrow car that allows me to use the whole road to avoid bad areas was very helpful and a wider car with similar clearance may have more problems.

Dogs (previous ER/ICU vet nurse here)- Do not attempt this hike if it is above 85 degrees with your dog especially between 10a-2p!! Bring bare minimum 1 liter of water just for each dog (just for this 3 mile portion) and let them have a good rest in every bit of shade and free choice water at all times. After heat, your next biggest enemy is foxtails!! Right now it is peak season and the meadow the oak tree campsite is in is filled with them! Check frequently especially deep in the toes. Dogs have died from going septic from them embedding themselves. They will creep up into the eyes, ears, nose, prepubis, everywhere!! I spent at least 6 hours removing them total. Did pick off a few mostly dog ticks (not a large prevalence of tick borne dz in SoCal), they have 2 month (out of 3 month) old Scalibor collars but they go in the water a lot.

Insects- Yes expect a constant buzz. Once a swarm finds you walking along the creek, you've got new friends. They were tolerable, but certainly disrupt mediation. The mosquitoes are not too bad just annoying flies. Far from ruined the trip for me! I found Honest brand bug spray (mostly essential oils) worked fairly well but needed frequent application. If you care about bees as I do, due to a severe allergy, then its not perfect but it could be worse. I attract bees like crazy! So I still had a few stalkers, but no stings. Wildflowers are currently in bloom the first 0.5 miles and then along the creek where there is water. The ones along the creek seemed basically too pre-occupied to pay me attention. A few got a little interested, but not for long. I felt comfortable knocking into the flowers that crossed the path even if bees were busy working on the bush. The ones to be worried about are the swarms on the little white poms in the first 0.5 mile of the trail. There are just so many bees and I believe close to a hive that they are more protective and I had quite the stalker for a while that made me nervous (...and forget my hiking poles in the car!).

Things I was glad I brought or wished I had:
- Bug spray
- Visor > sunglasses
- Sunscreen
- Chapstick
- Hiking poles- lots of loose gravel and small rocks on the trail that poles help balance and stabilize you
- Comb to help remove foxtails from dogs
- Way to clean water

Things you don't need:
- sleeping pad- quite comfy on the bed of oak leaves, not worth the weight

Love this hike! Good amount of parking, scenic mountains on the way down and decent work out on the way back. Wear a bathing suit and pack a lunch and hang near the water for a bit. I swam before hiking back to help beat the heat. There is zero shade besides down by the water so be smart. I went last week and there really was just a trickle vs a waterfall but definitely still worth the hike. Oh and get your permit - they checked mine at the tent before entering and then again after I had already done ~2 miles.

I'm a newbie when it comes to hiking but this is my favorite trail so far. We took the old way to the waterfalls because we thought there would be ropes going down the hill but I guess they took most of the ropes off. We were still able to navigate it though. I really navigating through the rocks and streams but you could tell that few people had gone through the old trail. on the way back we took the newer trail which seemed safer but not as fun. Bring lots of water just in case. it can get hot really fast.

Note: The dirt road that leads to this trail is rough and not suitable for most sedans. Mid to high clearance vehicles are recommended.

This is a beautiful canyon hike with a good amount of shade. It’s pretty busy though, so if you’re not a fan of crowds, come during the week or early on the weekend.

Great hike, do not do this hike on a hot day.

Great hike! Make sure to bring lots of water. Definitely use the ropes to climb up to the next waterfall. You will be glad you did!

backpacking
2 months ago

I just returned from my first backpacking trip and Barker Valley was the perfect choice. I received the recommendation from a friend and it did not disappoint.

Some notes: There was still a couple of feet of water left in the stream. It was hot during the day (95 degrees on the hike back up the 1,000 ft incline) and surprisingly cold at night. The bugs were pretty bad; make sure you bring a citronella candle for camp.

I did this overnight trip alone and the most striking thing about Barker Valley was how away-from-it-all it was. I didn't realize there were places so secluded left in San Diego County; no cell reception and there was no one else out there. It was exactly what I wanted in a backpacking trip.

The best part was seeing the Milky Way in all its glory; I haven't seen it in years.

DO NOT follow the “getting there” directions (do not turn left down chihuahua or go down any dirt road), just keep following the original road all the way down to the fire station, and park at the information center. Trail is on THE SAME SIDE OF THE ROAD as the fire station on the right hand side when facing the building, NOT the side of the road with the info center and PCT sign. Also keep in mind this route approaches the rock formation from behind, so be on the look out for the trail split once you hit 3.2 miles! Be sure to bring plenty of water, direct sun is a killler for 2/3 of the way there/back.

Eagle rock itself was super cool!! There isn't much shade cover on this trail, so next time I'd try not to go on a really hot and sunny day. The trail was pretty empty when we went.

Warning: several hikers have died of heatstroke here. There's almost no shade. it gets hot.

Not many bugs. That's about as far as it goes for good points. This unremitting slog down to an unremarkable falls, followed by an even less remarkable slog back up the exact same trail you just walked down, is free of agreeable views, shade, or, really, any reason to set foot on it. I don't know who built it, and I really don't know why, but I'd like my afternoon back please. Negative 1.21 Gigastars.

Skip It.

The eagle stone itself is pretty awesome. The hike is rated moderate but it was pretty easy in 85 degree weather. FYI, there's absolutely no shade starting from the half way point to eagle stone so bring lots of water.

nice trail
kinda hard to find
had to use a website to find the beginning
and got lost several times
the service trail for the power pole mix in with the trail

REMEMBER GO LEFT AT THE T
but the stream was nice and cool and dogs loved it

ALSO A RATTLESNAKE LIVES UP IN THE SMALL CAVE ABOVE THE STREAM/WATERFALL
be careful with children or dogs or anyone

but it was a nice view on a positive note

Long drive, very nice hike. The forest service has cut a new trail that delivers you to middle sister. Please use this and not the old "trail". I.e. don't cross the pink line across the edge of trail. Those random routes straight down the slope have caused a scar that will take a decade or more to recover IF it remains unused and people don't cause more erosion. When on the new trail, as you get near the falls/stream bed the trail becomes difficult to follow. Look for pink ribbons tied on shrubs that indicate trail. I climbed to middle fall (rope is there but not necessary). Good swimming in that one. Stream is still moving but just barely above a dribble really.

Please at least pack out everything you bring in. If you can pick up something and leave it cleaner than you found it! I found a pile of trash hidden behind a tree. Packed them out too:)

Beautiful hike!! But be aware that you need a permit. They have a tent pitched at the trailhead and wont let you go past without one. The way down was easy, but the way back up was tougher. Its not steep, but if its hot the granite makes it extremely hot and there is no shade. Bring a gallon per person, youll definitely need it. The water was trickling today, but there was a decent amount in the pool. It looked too stagnant to swim in, but people were in there anyway. Id definitely do it again, or try the two trails that branch from the north and south.

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