East of San Diego, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park offers respite from the dry Southern California landscape. The park’s 24,700 acres of oak and conifer forests and expansive meadows are broken by running streams. Located in the Peninsular Range of mountains, Cuyamaca Peak, at 6,512 feet, is the second highest point in San Diego County. From the peak, visitors can see Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to the east or the Pacific coastline to the west. Over half of the park's acreage is designated as state wilderness. The two family camps, Paso Picacho and Green Valley, are open and on the reservation system spring through fall. Green Valley sits at an elevation of 4,000 feet and has a creek which runs through the middle of the campground. The day-use area offers sets of cascades and shallow pools, great for water play on hot days. Green Valley has 74 campsites. Paso Picacho, 5 miles north, sits at an elevation of 5,000 feet. The most popular hikes start from this camp, including the 2 mile hike up Stonewall Peak (elevation 5,700 feet), and the 3.5 mile hike up Cuyamaca Peak (elevation 6,512 feet), both which offer breathtaking views of the deserts to the east, the coast to the west, and Lake Cuyamaca at the bottom. Lake Cuyamaca, operated by the Helix Water District, is two miles north of Paso Picacho and offers boating and fishing. Paso Picacho campground has 85 campsites. Day-use visitors may use the picnic areas provided at the campgrounds for $8 per vehicle. The receipt is good for the entire park for the day. The picnic areas offer tables, restrooms, and barbeques. Visitors may also park in legal turnouts along the highway and hike for free. Fire is not allowed anywhere except in the developed picnic areas and campgrounds. The beautiful park offers camping and hiking in an oak woodland forest, with a sprinkling of pines and lovely meadows with creeks. There are over 100 miles of trails which accommodate hikers, bikers, and equestrians. The Day Use Annual Pass is accepted at this park. The park is open from dawn until dusk. Dogs on a leash are allowed on the Cuyamaca Peak Fire Road. Dogs are allowed in picnic areas and in the campgrounds (except the primitive trail camps), but they are not allowed on trails or in park buildings.
It was awesome. Kinda crowded but we always manage to get down and up without a crowd. It's flowing beautifully with all the rain we've been getting. Highly recommend going up to the top and definitely slide down the waterfall! DO NOT lie down while sliding, saw a few people do that and it looks super painful and one dude bashed his head pretty good, so just try doing it seated! Have fun!
The hike is really fun, and dangerous at times, especially if you are trying to make it to the top of the third waterfall. I would recommend to get there early because it gets crowded and that makes it harder in some narrow parts of the trail. It is hard, but if you take your time you can make it to the end. The waterfalls are really impressive when there is enough water.
This trail is a little misleading. The falls are literally .2 miles from the trailhead, but there are several trails that go down into the valley and this one does in fact end up looping back to the same point if you follow this app a bit. There is some decent elevation involved as well as crossing the sweet water river a few times if you decide to do the whole 5-6 mile loop. Bring plenty of water, make sure you have good trail shoes or boots and plenty of food before you make the trip!
My dad and I tried this today but we were unable to reach the falls. We could only see them from a distance. I ended up with 5 ticks on me and hopefully I don't get poison oak because it is EVERYWHERE. The brush is so overgrown that the trail was often impossible to follow once you turn off from Milk Ranch Road. I wouldn't go back without a machete and long pants and sleeves. This will challenge you.