Cedar Creek Falls

Cedar Creek Falls

Trail Distance: 4.2 Miles
Best time to hike: Year Around
Directions: End of Thornbush Rd
Review 0
Hiking Trail
6.7 10 46 Overall
Users 3.7 (46 votes)
Difficulty5
Scenery9
Map Info6

Cedar Creek Falls

“First off BRING LOTS OF WATER!” I have to say that this was one of my favorite hikes. The trail starts out at a hill behind some homes and ends in an unexpected spot where there is a beautiful waterfall complete with swimming hole. This trail is not very difficult on the way to the waterfall, but watch out because it is easy to fall when going downhill. This is the perfect hike to do on a warm spring day because everything is so green and the flowers are blooming. There is nothing more satisfying than working up a sweat and being able to jump into a pool of water. Not only is there a waterfall, but there are also high ledges and a rope swing that you can jump off of. We took the lower trail, but I did notice that there was another trail that went higher up the mountain and leads to the top of the waterfall. Just keep in mind that even though the hike there is relatively easy, the way back is mostly uphill, so make sure that you have appropriate footwear.
Maria G.

“I parked at the end of Thornbush Road. The hike down from there is pretty steep and the signs say about two miles long. When you get to the bottom there are trails in thee different directions and NO SIGNS! From the Thornbush Rd. trail, take the trail that is in front of you, in the middle of the other two. From there the falls are less than a half mile away and its all pretty level.The hike is absolutely worth it. Even in mid July the falls were still running a bit and the pool was a perfect temperature. I went on a Tuesday and there were lots of people but the place started to clear out around five. So, if you can, come later in the day.”

Dave Texas

Other great hikes in San Diego


Meetup group for hiking in San Diego

Help fellow hikers by leaving a review of this trail


What other hikers say... 46 Help fellow hikers by leaving a review of this trail
Hiked the punch bowl in the 60's when we were kids
We grew up in sdce, b4 the sdce. We often hiked four corners, devil's punch bowl. I remember a hot springs out the
May 17, 2017, 1:11 am
Difficulty4
Scenery10
Map Info2.5
0
0
This hike requires a PERMIT!!!!
Would be nice if someone would have mentioned the MANDITORY PERMIT required to do this hike that needs to be purchased IN ADVANCED!!! Grrrr drove all the way up there and hour up & back for NOTHING! It's only $6!!! But u can't even hike without it😡
March 26, 2017, 10:24 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
0
7
You need a permit
We got to the trail head today and realized we needed to have a permit. You can phone a 1-877 number but must have email access on your phone...which we don't. Missed the hike, too bad!
February 23, 2017, 12:59 am
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
0
2
Articles trail name is wrong
Unfortunately the name is incorrect it is cedar creek falls not the devils punch bowl. They are two different trails/locations. The devils punch bowl is miles away and inaccessible due to being on private property.
This is imperative information not nit picking. Life saving efforts have been Delayed due to people giving the wrong name for the trail and in an emergency every second counts.

Bring lots of water. Even if you don't use it all you could save a human or a dogs life.

Dogs are allowed on leashes.

Jumping off the cliffs into the water is illegal

Also if one Hikes cedar creek falls you must purchase a permit beforehand through recreation.gov. Occasionally there are rangers at the falls checking permits. There is no cell service at the bottom. You must print this or risk receiving a ticket.
January 16, 2017, 7:20 am
Difficulty6.5
Scenery8
Map Info0
0
2
Is it open in December?
Would like to know if it is open in December and Jan?
January 1, 2017, 6:05 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
0
1
Great hike! Didn't need a permit??
I went on March 18th, 2016 early in the morning. I did not know that a permit was needed so i didn't have one. BUT we were still able to hike up. It is truly beautiful and the water felt amazing after the hike. I don't really understand how anyone would have known if you had a permit or not.
April 3, 2016, 6:11 pm
Difficulty3
Scenery7
Map Info1
0
4
GET A PERMIT!!
There is a permit required for this trail and no one gets past without. Only 75 a day. DONT FORGET YOUR PERMIT!
February 13, 2016, 9:17 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
1
2
Great hike but permits are required!
This is a great, easy day hike culminating in a spectacular waterfall. However, if you show up without a permit the Forest Service will not allow you to go. They issue 75 permits/day and they are frequently sold out, so be sure to secure a permit well in advance. One permit is good for up to five people.

Permits here: http://www.recreation.gov/permits/Cedar_Creek_Falls_Visitor_Use_Permit_Area/r/entranceDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=109033&entranceId=339129&permitTypeId=1320379949&entryType=1

General info: http://www.recreation.gov/wildernessAreaDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=109033
February 3, 2016, 5:03 pm
Difficulty6
Scenery7.5
Map Info8
0
19
Great hike and reward
See more of what this place looks like in action! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmz6Xu_MQPs
Permit needed! Recreation.gov look up cedar creek falls
June 4, 2015, 1:51 am
Difficulty7
Scenery6.5
Map Info7
1
9
questions ?
a lot of these posts say that it is closed and some say it's not. If someone can please email me an clarify i would highly appreciate that since we plan to go in a week thank you so much
November 4, 2014, 5:06 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
You need a pass!
Took the family there today. We were immediately told we needed a pass. $6. Fine. Then they said we had to do it over the phone with a credit card. I only had my business CC. Not good for recreation but good for gas. They would not let us in to the water falls area but said we could walk around everywhere else. So we did. Walked down one side and up to another parking lot and then back down. At the bottom we asked the ranger again. He wasn't even listening to us and tried to talk over. So repeated. Then he gave some canned response not appropriate. Repeated again. This time the cobwebs cleared and he said no. Having been told by others they usually said yes, just a few minutes before, I was a bit upset but politely said thanks. These jerks need to be able to accept money but I guess they are there because they are dishonest. Never going back to this place. By the way, no waterfall and dead fish, according to those that had bought a pass ahead of time. We did get a good 8 mile walk out of it...
June 1, 2014, 5:54 pm
Difficulty4
Scenery2
Map Info2
-
-
reopened
its reopened but you have to get a permit. Check with ranger before deciding to go.
January 19, 2014, 7:52 am
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
Inclines are rough! Way too steep. They were fixing the trail and making a easier trail. Views are amazing!
September 20, 2013, 8:18 pm
Difficulty10
Scenery7
Map Info9
-
-
Open?
Is this hike open yet?
July 31, 2013, 10:15 am
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
Mr Miles
This trail now requires a paper permit to be on you or face a fine...
July 23, 2013, 1:21 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
HOT HIKE
We started through the Thornbush Rd access. The hike back was HOT and killer, but I must admit that the hike to the waterfall was beautiful. We went June 1, 2013 and started around 8am. You need a $6 permit to visit the fall and by the time we went it twas more of a trickle, but still beautiful.
June 5, 2013, 4:05 pm
Difficulty8
Scenery10
Map Info10
-
-
Reason for Closure
Homeowners did not sue and are not the reason the trail is closed. The trail is closed due to a teenager dying out there and all of the rescues because of people not ringing water. I live on the road and that ranger lied to you. Someone also hanged themselves at the bathrooms last year and was found three days later as the rangers were not there. The dead kids mom sued, now they will sell an allotted amount of passes this year to hike it. You can still enter from Julian on Eagle Peak Road which is an easier hike.There was a lot of traffic but you cannot sue for that. My only problem is people littering the falls area with beer cans and cigarette butts, it makes me sick....Happy Hiking!
February 10, 2013, 3:42 am
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
TRAIL CLOSED!!!
We have hiked the Ramona Waterfalls hike on several occasions. This weekend (1/20) we had company in from out of state, and wanted to take them to see this amazing sight. We drove a good 1+ hr. to Ramona, only to find that the trail was closed. Not only was it closed with a sign, but a park ranger was parked in front of the gate, and told us we must turn around. Dumbfounded, we asked the park ranger why it was closed and why we could not hike it. He nicely explained to us that the home owners right next to the trail start (From Ramona Oaks Rd.) sued the National Parks Service and successfully got the trail shut down. The apparently claimed there were obnoxious hikers, beer bottles, and some people peeing in public by their house. Plus they did not like all the extra cars parked on their street. .... I would agree that this hike in particular draws a lot of young, more vibrant teens/young adults, and yes, I'm sure there were some that were a bit rambunctious (to say the least). HOWEVER, the home owners could have called the police on THOSE INDIVIDUALS and did not have to shut down an entire trail/park and ruin such a beautiful hike for everyone. In fact, I find it a bit pretentious. If you are that picky about privacy, noise, and nonsense, then don't buy a house next to a national park/popular hiking trail. You pay for your property, and property value is based on numerous things - surrounding sights being one of them. But now no one can see this beautiful sight because some prude with big money went sue happy. This was one of our favorite hikes to do, and love taking new visitors on the hike to show them the wonders of Southern CA. ALSO, the homeowners had a huge fence put around their house/the brush area next to their house. Apparently a fence wasn't enough. And apparently having money means not only can you control your land, but you can control the land around you (that you didn't pay for nor do you own). Thanks rich prudes. And by no means do I condone the behavior of the individuals who get drunk on the trails and cause the chaos. However, those individuals should be banned from the hike, not the entire trail shut down.
January 20, 2013, 9:20 pm
Difficulty3
Scenery5
Map Info0
-
-
Ramona Access Still Closed
If you are planning to go to the Water Falls do ti through Julian. The Ramona access is still closed and you can get a $4000 ticket is you trespassed the main gate. Seriously!
August 16, 2012, 2:24 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
i heard the trail was permantely closed can anyone confirm or deny this for me????? Thank you
July 26, 2012, 2:47 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
Ramona Waterfall Hike
Anyone know where I can get more information on this hike? If it's still open and address of location? Appreciate any information.

Thank you.
July 8, 2012, 8:46 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
Cedar Creek Falls Ramona
I hiked it a while back but we went on a different route. It was the route that hugged each mountain all the way down. Is that route closed? Directions on how to get to that route? I don't remember
May 5, 2012, 1:36 pm
Difficulty6
Scenery10
Map Info5
-
-
Punchbowl. Beautiful, ruined by humans
Beautiful hike, one of the first places i went to enjoy nature down in this giant suburbial city area we call san diego county. It was great then! no trash only like 2 people when we got there.
Went back recently, they closed off the straight trail which is good, terrible erosion there, but people still take it, further eroding the mountain.
And not to mention all the trash i wish i had enough manpower to carry out, all around the water hole. Another place that's being destroyed by uneducated people.
April 28, 2012, 11:39 am
Difficulty5
Scenery7
Map Info9
-
-
RIP to one of the Best
This hike was an epic one and I'll always remember it. It had all mother nature had to offer (steams, rugged terrian, epic ending) to bad its gone! Hopefully it will reopen this summer!
October 4, 2011, 12:40 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
Hike to Cedar Creek Fall Cost $5,000
As of July 22, 2011 the Forest Service shut down this hike and if they catch, you will pay. Well worth the $5,000 Rememeber, when trespassing to the falls, go out of your way to make it make it memorable, but don't break you neck...
July 24, 2011, 3:05 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
Cedar Creek Falls (Ramona Waterall)
Great scenery, but very crowded. Bring lots of water and go on a weekday.
June 18, 2011, 4:49 pm
Difficulty7
Scenery9
Map Info7
-
-
great hike
did this hike over mothers day. the city had recently put up wire fences to guide you and carved a new trail path all the way down. this made it way easier than running down the hillside as we have done in the past. the waterfall was packed but enjoyable. expect large groups here on weekends. make sure you go on a hot day as well, so you can enjoy the cool water
May 9, 2011, 4:31 pm
Difficulty7
Scenery8
Map Info10
-
-
Devil's Punch Bowl
You are misinformed as to where Devil's Punchbowl is. It is not at the bottom of Cedar Creek falls nor is it near Devil's Jumpoff. Quite a bit to the East along Boulder Creek is Three Sister's Falls. Devil's Punchbowl lies at the bottom of these falls. Not easily accessible, this is in a different part of the river valley.
April 10, 2011, 1:15 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
Holy crap, this hike.
This hard was freakin hard. There's 2 trails, the easy trail, & the trail that doesn't f*** around. I hiked the 2nd one! I think the easier entrance was from the julian side & the harder one from ramona. Either way, this hike was pretty hard even going downhill. And I was in pretty good shape at the time. The scenery is freakin sick. Loved the waterfall, but there was a lot of people..I didn't really like that.
As far as hiking uphill. I will probably NEVER hike that side again. bring LOTS of water. hankerchief helped me ALOT because the heat made me fall to the ground alot, so i would wet it &keep it on my face to save water. Also.... DONT TRY THIS IF YOUR NOT IN SHAPE!

But all in all.
I highly reccommend this if youre up for a challenge.
March 7, 2011, 8:05 pm
Difficulty10
Scenery10
Map Info9
-
-
Devil's Punchbowl!
What everybody else said! Falls are awesome, but can get crowded, and, unfortunately, it's easy enough 2 get 2 that ppl who have no respect for nature can get there!
February 22, 2011, 10:13 pm
Difficulty4
Scenery5
Map Info0
-
-
directions….?
February 12, 2011, 1:24 am
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
Bring flip flops in back pak
Excellent hike. Just did post all the rain and fall is flowing full. Bring extra water and flip flops in back pak. There are 3 streambeds where you need to take off shoes to cross and the flip flops come in handy while strolling to each crossing.
January 17, 2011, 3:49 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
Great hike
This hike goes to the Devils punch bowl. It is easy on the way down and hard on the way up so don't forget to bring enough water. Natives own land around the riverbed so don't stray to far off the path because they don't take kindly to trespassing. My friends and I have been going to the Devils Punch bowl frequently for the past 15 years. I have heard of at 3 deaths there due to drunk idiots jumping off rocks and attempting to climb the waterfall. If you are going to go to the punchbowl, respect the land, pick up your trash and don't be a drunk idiot.
January 7, 2011, 9:24 pm
Difficulty7
Scenery9
Map Info6
-
-
Christmas Day evening hike to the falls
I took my wife & our two youngest kids (9yrs & 6yrs)on our first real hiking adventure on Christmas day to the Cedar Creek Falls. It was a great family experience. We got to the trail head around 2:30 in the afternoon and parked off Thornbush Rd. The trail head seemed to be closed because of the resent rain storms we just had earlier in the week. So we followed some other hikers in on a trail along some very nice homes off Thornbush Rd. The hike has a great view of the valley and surrounding mountains. Thier are a couple of cool rock formations along the trail as you start to desend down in to the valley. It's a good idea to bring some treking poles or a walking stick because the trail is very steep and loose under feet. We just found our own along trail. I wasn't aware that you have to cross 3 steams that are about knee high, the first being fast flowing so I had to carry my kids across one by one so be prepared to get your feet wet in the cool water. Once you get down into the valley the trail flattens out and your walking under some beautiful shade trees. It's a shame you have to run into a pile of trash at this point, people trek out what you treked in. Turning the bend and catching your first glimps off the waterfall is just breath taking. Once you get to the Devil's punch bowl you can take dip in water or jump off the rock face. We got there late so we couldn't enjoy the water as it should be, my kids were pretty bumded about that. So we took some pictures and headed back. They say that there are two trails the very steep trail that we took and a gradual incline trail. We had to get going before it got dark so we had no time to explore. On the way back as you start up from the valley you can catch a glimps of a another very tall waterfall to the north of the valley. The hike back is a workout so be prepared with lots of water. We managed to get past the steep part just before it got dark and that was a good thing because during our break and you will need a break, we heard then saw a pack of coyotes near by. That gave us a burst of energy and we kept moving fast. Luckly we where all prepared with our headlamps and flash lights that allowed us to hike back in the dark. We got back to the car around 5:30 in the dark. Overall it was a great hiking adventure. You can very easily make this 4.2 mile hike into an all day event that your family will cherish for a lifetime.

Be safe by being prepared.
December 26, 2010, 9:49 am
Difficulty7
Scenery10
Map Info8
-
-
Good Hike, But Crowded w/ Lots of Litter
Don't get me wrong -- this is a terrific hike through beautiful scenery, with an amazing swimming hole at the end.

However, I wanted to mention one thing I haven't seen in the other reviews -- the huge crowds of teenage partiers on weekends in the summer, and the large amount of trash on the trail.

We hiked in on July 24th. On the way in, there were dozens of beer cans, plastic bottles and other trash along the trail. Near the bottom of the canyon, we passed an area where someone had clearly camped the night before, leaving behind a huge pile of trash, beer cans, bags of chips, etc. Compared to other trails I've seen in SD County, this was the worst maintained by far.

The other surprise -- which isn't necessarily bad if you're a teenager yourself -- was the huge crowd of 15-20 year-olds at the swimming area at the end. There were boom boxes playing Bob Marley, kids drinking and passing joints, and although everyone was friendly and pretty mellow, it's definitely not something you want to see if your goal when hiking is to get away from the city and quietly enjoy nature.

Ramona falls was a fun place, but I can see why older hikers wouldn't enjoy the crowds or the litter much. Having said that, this is definitely a beautiful area that's worth seeing -- perhaps on a weekday when school is back in session!
July 25, 2010, 9:44 pm
Difficulty8
Scenery8
Map Info10
-
-
It's called Cedar Creek Falls, not "Ramona Waterfall". I've been doing this hike for a number of years and it is quite beautiful. The Hike from Ramona in is not bad at all but the return hike isn't as easy. The hike in is all downhill, but the hike back is (obviously) all uphill. I recently went his past summer. The weather was awful; there were temperatures peaking about 110 degrees! However, jumping into the beautiful swimming hole at the base of a large waterfall from a 40 foot cliff was well worth the pain.
July 22, 2010, 6:21 pm
Difficulty7
Scenery8
Map Info0
-
-
Don't get lost!
I parked at the end of Thornbush Road. The hike down from there is pretty steep and the signs say about two miles long. When you get to the bottom there are trails in thee different directions and NO SIGNS! From the Thornbush Rd. trail, take the trail that is in front of you, in the middle of the other two. From there the falls are less than a half mile away and its all pretty level.

The hike is absolutely worth it. Even in mid July the falls were still running a bit and the pool was a perfect temperature. I went on a Tuesday and there were lots of people but the place started to clear out around five. So, if you can, come later in the day.
July 21, 2010, 2:44 am
Difficulty8
Scenery9
Map Info3
-
-
dogs?
anyone know how great this place is for big dogs? thank you
July 19, 2010, 8:58 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
Amazing
This was an amazing hike. The waterfall and swimming hole are incredible. So much fun to picnic and swim around before your big hike up the mountain. Plan ahead, I hiked up the mountain around 1pm in 100 degree weather -- not a good idea. Plan to hike up the mountain in the later afternoon with plenty of cold water.
June 7, 2010, 11:28 am
Difficulty9
Scenery10
Map Info9
-
-
Not for kids 8 and under
We attempted this hike today and got our butts handed to us. I totally was not expecting the difficulty level and had my entire family coe. My 3 year old needed to be carried the whole way. I also think it would be helpful to note that though it might be 80 degrees in San Diego - its probablly about 100 in the canyon. BRING LOTS of water. The hike in and out is completely gorgeous though!
June 6, 2010, 12:31 am
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
We started hiking at 12:30 and got to the waterfall by 2:00pm. It's mostly downhill to the waterfall and took about two hours to hike back. It's a beautiful hike, but make sure to bring enough water and wear good hiking shoes!
June 5, 2010, 8:27 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
Loved it!
My buddies and I loved this hike! The only downside of this hike is the distance. Its too short! Some parts can be a little difficult as the trails are steep. Part of the trail splits off and you can either take the shorter steeper trail or the longer route with a gradual incline. The end of the trail is the big waterfall everybody talks about. When we went the water was about 5-7 deep depending on where you were in the "Devil's punch bowl." The water is nice and cold so its great to just relax in the water. It's great to do especially to cool down your body for the hike back. The hike back is where the real work out begins. The shorter, yet steeper trail is quite challenging to hike up. Having walking sticks probably help a lot so if you have them don't hesitate to bring them! Overall the scenery throughout is nice and refreshing. I plan to go back again just because of the work out I got from that hill. Try and go while the waterfall is still active! It was fully flowing when I went this past weekend so hope you get to enjoy it when you go too!
May 24, 2010, 6:32 pm
Difficulty8
Scenery10
Map Info5
-
-
Directions
How do you get here?
May 3, 2010, 5:05 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
Cedar Falls
The trip was definetly worth while.Theres no freeways or roads in the backround to interrupt this tranquil yet exciting adventure. The trail starts off on a slight slopes then tends to get pretty steep with some small loose rocks here and there. Be careful of each step while going down, dont want to twist an ankle. Once your down in the valley the rest is pretty much cake. Theres three streams you gotta cross so I would suggest bring some flip flops and a towel to dryoff. The waterfall is unbelievably beautiful and it gives yourself a since of accomplishment. The water was really cold and deep considering I went after a storm just past through. Try not to over exhaust yourself because the hike back is tough. I had to pace my breathing as well as my steps to conquer this slope. Overall our hike was about two and half hours. I would recomend to anyone whos looking for a good workout or just a nice place to go with that special someone. I wouldnt recomend bringing any kids under 8 unless you feel like carrying them. Oh yea, don't forget your camera and bring plenty of water.
April 26, 2010, 3:03 pm
Difficulty8
Scenery9
Map Info7
-
-
Rewards worth the challenge.
Here is what to expect: Beautiful scenery, beautiful waterfall. 1.5 hours walking semi slippery very steep dirt trails downhill, 1.5 hours walking the same steep uphill, seems easier walking back uphill. There were mothers with kids on their hips, young adults with their families, couples, some 20 somethings, a great mix. Total there were probably 30 people at the falls, all respectfully enjoying the serenity that is the reward for the physical hike in, swimming, relaxing, swimming, cliff jumping, and using a rope swing into the water. A great diversion. A couple of tips; wear a hat, use sunscreen, there are four streams to cross and you might get your feet wet, so take your shoes off because wet shoes can hurt your feet. Bring plenty of water (a gallon each). It is hot, mostly shadeless, nary a breeze, and brutal on the way back up. Near the waterfall there are plenty of shade trees, great for a picnic. Bring snacks or food to keep up your energy. Thanks to the reviews I read this morning before we went. We had a blast and feel very accomplished. Now for the hot tub.
April 18, 2010, 7:32 pm
Difficulty7
Scenery8
Map Info8
-
-
Cedar Creek Falls
People tend to refer to the pool at the bottom of Cedar Creek Falls as Devil's Punchbowl.

Haha, yeah that would have been handy information. My plan was to hit the punchbowl and then continue on to a cache back in the gorge north of there. Looking online there were trailheads for Devil's Jumpoff and Cedar Falls within 0.5 miles of each other off the same road. So we took the Devil's Jumpoff trail assuming we could get to Devil's Punchbowl from there. Yeah... not so much.

It was a great hike and my 1st time exploring back in this neck of the woods. Devil's Jumpoff is quite a site in itself. I'll try and throw a couple pics up here if I get the chance. The hike ended up being 8.3 miles round trip and between 1-1.5k feet elevation gain.
April 18, 2010, 1:19 am
Difficulty9
Scenery9
Map Info9
-
-

Comments

comments

David Hay

by David Hay

An Aussie transplant living in San Diego. I've chosen to live in this fair city for the past seven years because I truly believe it's one of the best in the world; there's no better city to enjoy sunshine and the outdoors.