Explore the most popular hiking trails near Descanso with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

trail running
2 days ago

Did the first 2.5 miles out and back for a trail run and it was amazing. The wildlife was great with tons of lizards and hares that ran in front of you down the trail. Weather was perfect but I could see this being very hot during the middle of summer.

hiking
8 days ago

Love it!! Perfect for a birthday hike with friends!!

May 13th 2018 Mother's Day. The weather was perfect nice and cool. We left about 8:45 a.m. There seems to be some discrepancy about the length. Some of the other reviewers agree that it's longer than 3.5. It seems closer to 4.5 miles. The first two to three miles are very gentle and well-groomed. However there is lots of poison oak. The last mile gets very narrow very and Rocky with a steep drop off you get to use your hands. the best part was being able to descend down to the creek floor and hike around on the big smooth boulders. There are multiple places to descend. This area is before any of the falls. there are ways to travel up to the falls while being right down at the water's edge. Getting to the second Falls is easily done but we were not on a path we were climbing on rocks and boulders. Clearly many before us have done this. the only section that is very steep is the portion to get from the second falls to the third Falls. This did require crossing over the water and using some ropes that have been kindly placed by previous hikers thank you. coming back we stayed on the trail that is higher up the slope on the east side of the creek. This path is tremendously narrow and only can be used single file. There were many slippery points. You Are Climbing over rocks and you get to use your hands. overall it was a nice hike. I should mention the eight miles on Boulder Creek Road that is dirt in either direction. That was an adventure in itself.

Tough hike in and out. But worth it just for the waterfalls and red salamanders. Bring lots of water the for the trip uphill back out. Choose a cool & cloudy day. Beautiful views of the SD mountains.

hiking
9 days ago

Took advantage of great cloudy and misty day to do three sisters so, why not tackle this one. No one on the trail compared to three sisters. Pretty easy hike. A little over grown. The views a cool on top.

Great hike. Start out walking to the far side of the parking lot and the trail begins there. You’ll turn left when you hit a lone post and you’ll be able to see the falls in the distance (seems closer than it actually is!) As you hike along, you’ll notice a drop off about a mile or so toward the falls. You can either go down this way or continue around on the trail that is cut into the side of the mountain. I went down on the way there and it was a lot of fun. A little hairy getting down to the bottom of the valley and a couple of butt slides to get down safely. Once you’re down at the bottom, you can hop along the boulders that the creek from the waterfall runs under (probably my favorite part.) A couple easy rope climbs (the slope is just a little steep and the ropes assist you in keeping your footing,) and you’re at the waterfall! If you don’t jump in your a sissy. I walked along the easier trail that I mentioned earlier that cut into the mountain side on the way out and it was very gradual and much easier to traverse than the original way I went down.

All in all, great hike. Would recommend to anyone staying in the area for a few days.

I almost died on this hike lol. Got there about 8:30 am, got to the falls about 2 hours later (got confused because there is an arrow on a rock pointing a different direction so we thought we took a wrong turn but it was right). Spent time at each fall, climbing the first rope was a little challenging but the second rope was easy. It was very sunny so it got hot, not a lot of shade. Leaving the falls is where we got lost because when you climb over the boulders to get back to the path, it’s not really clear which way to return so we ended up down in unmarked forest while we could see the trail way above our heads. Had to climb through bushes and trees to find our way back. Ran out of water and the heat made us pan a little. Pay attention to the path you take when you leave. But we survived! Definitely the most challenging hike I’ve been on.

My daughter and I hiked this trail this evening which is just down the road from where we live. The temperatures have been starting to climb so we thought it’d be nice to get some fresh air in the cool of the evening. The climb up the fire road is a good steady climb before dropping down to the river. Check for ticks when you get to the car. It’s a great 2 1/2 mile hike.

hiking
17 days ago

Pretty walk. Great views. Enjoyed a lot.

Great trail. Maybe I missed something but we clocked 8.5 on gps. Was a real nice hike with good elevation gain.

My first time hiking this trail. Recommend checking the weather as this week is a great time to go. So glad the ropes were there as I made it to the second falls. I saw a few kids hiking ahead of their parents and I thought they were too young to be doing that. Some of the trail is right at the edge of the drop off so I had the kids climb the rocks and wait for their folks. Way too dangerous as the the kids were between the ages of 5-8yrs old. Not sure when they empty the trash cans but people were just dumping trash on the ground as the cans were overflowing. Take your trash with you.

Really fun little hike, you’ll need $10 for parking but you can schedule a guided hike with the Park Docents. Michelle and Carmen were very nice and welcoming and had so many fun things to show us. Local plants and a WWII era water reservoir system. Super fun swimming hole at the end!

Our hike turned out to be more like 5.5mi compared to 7. Not sure where the extra miles went. If you do the loop counter clockwise it’s a more gradual climb than the steepness of going clockwise.

Great views of stonewall peak and around Cuyamaca. There was a bees nest in the airplane engine so might not want to get too close to that. Would definitely do it again.

The trail was easy. I wished I could have done the old trail for a better challenging workout. We started about 8:30 am. Weather was nice and cool. When we hiked back our if was a bit warmer. Heard some rattle snakes so be careful! Overall, great hike for anyone and kids no younger than 9-10 years of age.

easy to moderate. ..

I've heard various levels of difficulty about this trail, since apparently there used to be an alternative route to the falls. going down, I followed the blue ribbons placed along the trail to help you stay on it. a few points where it became rocks/ climbing, I had to look and for the trail, but for the most part it was pretty easy to follow. a lot of the trail is right on the edge of a drop-off, so I wouldn't recommend bringing children. I was the only person when I got to the falls. slipped off my Dusty shoes and socks and enjoyed the water, and got to lay down on the rocks by the water, just enjoying the sound of the falls. on the way back up- which is steep in some parts, I passed 3 people. I brought 3L of water, drank 2.

on the way down I had complete shade, trek back was maybe 25% shaded. beautiful change in scenery throughout the hike. A few areas I had to slow down and focus on my steps.

Great hike! The falls were beautiful! I wasn’t sure what to expect with the new trail. My 11 year old son came along and made it. Coming out was a little difficult and made many stops. It was also pretty warm, about 80 degrees and only had an occasional breeze in the canyon.

Heard some rattle snakes right off the trail in the rocks so be on the look out this time of year.

Over all it was a great hike, taking us about an hour to get to the falls and about 1 1/2 - 2 hours coming out.

Pack water and a snack and start early and your sure to have some fun!

hiking
1 month ago

the trail was great. the 1st half is nothing special, lots of clearing goin on at lower elevation. once you get closer to the top, the 2nd half, you'll want to stop for pictures every 5 min. went during midday, sun was shining and it lit up the greens of the leaves. and with a bright blue sky, there isnt a better mixture. remember your water.

Fun hike. Lots of elevation changes and the rope down was fun. Various paths to get down the steep part.

The falls are pretty and a nice place to enjoy lunch or a snack.

Some nice single track bouldering and switchbacks.

Good times.

One of my favorite hikes, can’t wait to come back!

I was most surprised by a family that pushed a baby in. Baby stroller to the top of the this beautiful Peak. The 360 degree view was marred by mist or possibly smog to the west, so you couldn’t quite see the Pacific Ocean. Otherwise it was a sunny blue sky day with 15-20 mph winds. We met a couple dozen other hikers, including a group of Japanese teenagers coming up from the Paseo Pacheco Campground, where we parked for $10.

hiking
1 month ago

Parking right by the trailhead. Only saw two humans the entire time. Did the hike round trip in 2:40 at a leisurely pace with a few rests. Sick view at the top.

This is a nice hike- but beware of ticks right now. Nice views while on the trail but the best is on the top

It’s a nice hike, the views at the peak are awesome- it’s not that challenging but good workout. The trail it’s easy to follow. Enjoy!

1 month ago

I did this hike as part of the 100 peak challenge- but I really didn’t enjoy climbing up the bump to east mesa peak.. the trail along the peak it’s nice though- but the peak it’s off trail and once on the top the high bushes won’t let enjoy the view. Sometimes I wonder why they chose peaks like this one... well.. have fun!

Perfect length and difficulty level! Great for a little challenge and a great spot to hang out and enjoy lunch by the falls! Will 100% be going back.

Super fun hike. I wanna go back there for sure:)!!

hiking
1 month ago

Completed ModernHiker's East Mesa Loop. Harvey Moore > Granite Springs > Dyar Springs > Eastside. ~9 miles. Didn't see any turkey or deer, but this is a great trail.

I had heard everything from "easy for whole family" to "absolutely treacherous" about this hike so I had no idea what to expect when we did it today.

We hiked the old way down which was definitely a little lose and sketchy but a lot of fun. The ropes were still there at the bottom where there is a rock drop off. We made our way to the falls and it was a fun adventurous hike.

To get to the top of the highest fall the climb has some exposure and I was more uncomfortable than I let on. We did separate routes to and from the top fall. I recommend the "normal" route (closer to the water) it was the less sketchy of the two.

The walk back up the mountain we tried the new trail and it was relatively easy if you do any hiking all all.

It took us about 4 hrs car back to car and we stopped a lot, took photos, and hung out at each of the 3 falls.

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