Cedar Creek Falls Trail

MODERATE 651 reviews
#2 of 121 trails in

Cedar Creek Falls Trail is a 4.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Ramona, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from October until May. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
4.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,033 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

views

waterfall

wild flowers

rocky

no shade

A popular hike in San Diego County, the trail to Cedar Creek Falls is a challenging pathway through backcountry hills and down an exposed canyon to a spectacular waterfall. Based in eastern San Diego in Cleveland Nationa Forest, Cedar Creek Waterfall can be accessed from the main trailhead at San Diego River Gorge starting in Ramona or via Saddleback Trailhead at the end of Eagle Peak Road in Julian. Please Note: A permit is required to enter the area surrounding the falls and must be purchased prior to hiking at www.recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777. Only 75 permits are issued per day and permits are not sold on site, nor is there ample cell signal to make the purchase via mobile device. Permits cost $10 each and can be used for up to 5 people. Permits are limited in quantity and often sell out. Rangers will be checking permits with a valid government issued ID, which must accompany all visitors listed. This hike is not advised for those with health conditions and not recommended in summer months due to extreme heat and the risk of heat stroke. Bring at least one gallon of water per person in summer months. Climbing on and jumping off the cliffs surrounding the waterfall is prohibited. For more information contact the USDA Forest Service.

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..

1 month ago

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.

hiking
1 month ago

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

hiking
1 month ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

Getting to the waterfall was a piece of cake, but coming back was draining. The heat didn’t help matters either. Make sure you bring LOTS of water!!! The waterfall had trickling water but the pool was full. The sight was worth the hike. I would definitely come back. Overall, it was a great hike!

hiking
2 months ago

Went early at 7am. The hiking in/out was great! There was no creek to cross and the waterfall didn't have a lot of water but it's still very pretty! Cool weather today, out by 10:30 in the morning. Perfect day for a hike.

hiking
2 months ago

Get a permit beforehand. This trail is pretty easy as long as the weather is nice. There is no real climb; it is mostly switchbacks. The waterfall was awesome.

BTW... We saw a dead rattlesnake on the trail. Someone had smashed it with a rock. Yikes!

2 months ago

Did this trail 2x already. The first time I went we had some rain over the weekend so the falls were flowing really nicely. The 2nd time however, we haven’t had rain in a while (light drizzles) so there was no water flowing and the water was stagnant & gross with moss on top.

Still, it’s an easy trail to walk on.

You have to buy a permit for this location. $10 for every group of 5

You check in at the tent before you start your hike (they clock what time you start and check you out when you’re done)

Getting to the falls is easy since you’re going down. You’ll get nice views of the area on the way. Once you get to the valley, you’ll be walking over a lot of rocks so watch your step. If it rained, and water has been flowing, you’ll be crossing 2 little creeks and climbing a rock or 2 before you get to the falls.

At the falls, if the water hasn’t been stagnant, you can swim out to the tree and swing on a top someone left behind. Make sure your bags and food are sealed or the squirrels living there will take your stuff. They’re cute but sneaky little critters.

I’d say, only the hike back up where you’ll get tired. Always bring lots of water especially if the weather is hot. There are rattlesnakes in the area so be on the look out for them (so far I’ve been lucky the few times I’ve been there) I’ve seen people bring their dogs on the trail and this last time, a couple went horseback riding.

I’ll definitely have to bring some my friends back to this trail after we’ve had some rain so they can experience the nice waterfall I got to see my first time there.

2 months ago

Way down is pretty easy, seen a snake and a big salamander. The water fall is pretty thin right now and the pool is getting merky. The way back SUCKS, zero relief from the sun. Bring water duh! Sun block and a straw hat. We started a little late at 9am, try and go early as possible.

hiking
2 months ago

I was slightly worried after reading online reviews that it’s highly dangerous - but don’t let these perturb you. The hike is gentle down and back up, fine for me just 3 months after knee surgery - the greater concern is the temperature on the return because it’s hot (even at 71 degrees it felt warm!) so bring water, a hat and sunscreen and you’ll be fine.

The falls were trickling yesterday so next time I’ll come earlier in the year to see some more water. But otherwise a really pretty and satisfying hike, and the trail wasn’t busy at all on a Thursday afternoon.

Get your permit at recreation.gov in advance. Just screenshot it on your mobile, no need to print.

hiking
2 months ago

Fantastic hike this morning! Weather was perfect, clear and sunny and we went early to avoid the brutal east county heat. (even when it's not hot.....it's hot) Snakes are out so keep eyes open. The falls are beautiful, such a marvel of nature.

The falls area gets very crowded, even with limited permits. We were lucky to go early and be able to sit at the falls for a while before a majority of people came in.

Hike is downhill to the falls and all uphill coming back. Bring plenty of water.

Secure your permit before you go and read up on regulations. We added hikers to our permit because a party was over the limit and was about to be turned away. There is a limit to the number in your party.

Gorgeous hike all around and the scenery is amazing. Can't wait for next time!

2 months ago

Take a gallon of water!
Wear lug soles.

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike, not crowded, and beautiful hills all around. In mid-May the falls were down to a trickle and pools were green, so probably better in Feb/Mar. It gets hot and there is very little shade cover along the trail. Be sure to bring plenty of water especially if you’re a beginner hiker. The ranger told us that people frequently have to be rescued because they underestimate the hike and the direct sunlight. But if you’re in good shape and hike regularly you should be fine.

3 months ago

Best hike ever

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike if planned well. The elevation change is gradual, so you can easily do six miles in two hours. Make sure you buy a pass online or you won’t be able to reach the falls. This hike is almost always monitored by rangers. Go in the winter or spring after it rains, but not after a torrential downpour or you will have a tough time crossing the river. Watch for rattlesnakes. My dog and I almost stepped on one yesterday, and I’ve run across rattlesnakes two of three times I’ve done this hike. The ranger also reported mountain lions on the trail this week. Dogs are allowed as long as the weather is cool and they are on leash.

hiking
3 months ago

Great weather! Nice easy decent to the waterfall with a view that totally makes the climb back up worth it. Bring lots of water for the accent because while it’s pretty gradual it has no shade. The rangers recommended about a gallon per person.

hiking
3 months ago

Perfect weather to do this. Nice breeze back on the way up. Still a challenge though. Left at 8am at 55 degrees and it was in the mid 70s on the way back up. Enjoy!

hiking
3 months ago

I really liked this hike, great scenery and views getting down to the waterfall and the waterfall/pond was beautiful.

I was the first one on the trail at 6 30 am and passed a lot of people on the return so I would advise going early if you want tranquility.

hiking
3 months ago

We started at 6am and got back as it started to warm up. It was the perfect time to go! It was so peaceful to hear the water running and so pretty.

hiking
4 months ago

Finally a hike that challenged me. The way to the falls is downhill, so coming back up was brutal. I was the first one on the trail today around 7 am, had my permit printed and the ranger checked for it. I think it’s great that they keep a log of those on the trail and their return. There is a restroom at the small parking lot, but you can park on the curb as well, no parking permit needed. No shade on the trail, so while it was cool in the morning heading down, it was hot and sunny on the way up. The fall itself was SO beautiful! It was so peaceful to be there alone but then everyone else showed up. Lots of wildflowers on the trail, beware of snakes.

4 months ago

Beautiful views, great water fall with fish in the pond. Strenuous hike back to the trailhead. Did it with my 3 small kids. Only my 7 cried. Tough but fun hike.

4 months ago

Beautiful

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful waterfall and great hike!

hiking
4 months ago

Great hike today! Moderate hike and just under 5 miles round trip. Bring lots of water and hiking shoes. You need a $10 permit and you can buy it online they sell out, only 75 permits per day. Really wish hikers would not play their music loudly! Much more enjoyable to just hear nature! Keep your drones and music at home folks enjoy nature

4 months ago

3.18.18. Well groomed trail. Wonderful hike to a lovely waterfall. Permit required.

4 months ago

Not at all hard

4 months ago

This is another one that I was very apprehensive about , because we were told it was so so hard, but really it was not that difficult. As usual, bring lots of water. So beautiful, and the destination, being what I have heard called Devils Punch bowl, is a beautiful body of water with a waterfall. And all of the squirrels come up to you they are so cute. Apparently they’re used to being fed, which we did not, because I’m sure it’s bad for the squirrels. Wonderful!!

hiking
4 months ago

I have done the hike twice. The most recent time being yesterday (3/18/18) and the first time was in August a few years ago. We just had recent rain so this hike was beautiful (5 stars), but if you happen to come during a drier month when there hasn't been much recent precipitation like I did in August this hike is more of a 3 star. It was about 6 miles RT and the hike will take most people 2-3 hours plus the amount of time you care to spend at the falls. A drawback would be needing to go online and purchase a $10 permit. There's a ranger at the trailhead checking for permits and you sign in. The hike is pretty easy for the first 4 miles, but the last 2 miles is a bit steep as you walk up from the falls back to the parking area, but as other reviewers have mentioned it should be rated as Moderate for sure.

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful hike!

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