Weather :

Time Required : 6 to 7 hours

Timings :  9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Permit Required : Yes

Entry Fee :  $ 6 per permit for a group of five

Best time to visit :  Spring and Winter

Prohibitions :  Alcohol, Camping, Diving

Parking Facility :  No designated space but travellers can park on long stretches of road

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Cedar Creek Falls, San Diego Overview

Cedar Creek Falls, the largest waterfall in San Diego County, is part of the Cleveland Forest and promises a challenging six miles of hiking experience. The waterfall, situated at a distance of 15Km from Airlie Beach, drops away from a spectacular height of about 80ft, forming a small pool of water at its base, making it a serene attraction for swimming. This pool during summer becomes still and home to different algae as the falls dry out making it the wrong time to visit Cedar Creek Falls.

The best time to visit this beautiful place is just after rains, in spring and winter when the temperature is cool enough to hike with low chances of heat-related illness.  A visitor permit is required to visit Cedar Creek Falls to ensure the visitor's safety and protection of wildlife.  With an unconventional hike route, you will continuously go downhill to reach the fall base and strenuously climb your way out towards the trailhead. The hike promises picturesque sights of black oak trees, varieties of wildflowers, small streams of water, cottonwood trees, and off-course rattlesnakes. The long cedar trees amidst backcountry hills of eastern San Diego also offer the opportunity of birdwatching to ornithologists during weekdays when the crowd is less.

How to get the permit for Cedar Creek Falls?

The permit to visit Cedar Creek falls can be bought from at the price of $6 per group of five. There is no procedure to get the permits on-site. Diving, alcohol and camping all fall under the banned list of activities in and around the trails of Cedar Creek falls.

The hike to Cedar Creek Falls can be temporarily closed by the district rangers in times of high temperatures. So, it is advised to check the availability of permits and visiting hours beforehand.

About the hiking

This unconventional downhill hiking towards the fall and uphill trekking while returning amidst high temperatures of the desert land of San Diego demands prior hiking experience in the travellers. Hiking in temperature as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit and during months of summer is strongly discouraged as it can lead to serious heat-related diseases in hikers. Those who are new to the experience of hiking should opt for winter months and days with low temperatures to enjoy their journey. There is a low possibility of you finding shade during the first two-mile of hiking so you must carry ample sun protection, energy bars, first aid kits, and water in your supplies. With the last one mile offering some shade of tall trees and rocks, the hike downhill towards the falls is much easier and gives the hiker the possibility to bar their energy for a strenuous climb back to the trailhead.  

Things to do at the Falls

Surrounded by the defined canyons and backcountry hills of eastern San Diego, the falls offer ornithologists the chance to watch birds on a quiet and less crowded day of their hike. The pool formed at the base of the waterfall is a gorgeous place for the travellers to take a calm swim after the stretch of their hike under the scorching heat of the sun. The hike to this enormous Cedar Creek falls also potentials a scenic encounter with beautiful wildflowers for flower lovers.

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