Cedar Creek Falls: SoCal’s Most Beautiful Waterfall

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  • Miles: 5.5
  • Time: 3 hrs
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Best Season: Spring
  • Elevation Gain: 1026 ft
  • Max Elevation: 1836 ft
  • Type of Trail: Out & Back
  • Parking Lot: Fits 15+ cars
  • Dogs: Allowed On A Leash
  • Restrooms: Available At The Parking Lot
  • Trail Popularity: Very High
  • Pics Taken On: Mar 7, 2022

Want to visit a huge waterfall in San Diego County? Cedar Creek Falls is a super popular, yet surprisingly well-kept falls, with the largest swimming pool I’ve seen in SoCal.

Cedar Creek Falls is an 80-foot waterfall located in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. The hike has two trailheads. The more popular is located on Thornbush Rd and requires a $6 permit while the lesser-used trailhead begins off of Eagle Peak Rd. Cedar Creek plunges into a large pool deep enough for swimming. There is very little shade on the trail. Hence, plenty of water and a hat are crucial.

Cedar Creek Falls is easily one of the most stunning waterfalls/hikes in SoCal. If you want to view the complete list, check out the posts below:

Top Waterfalls In Southern California

Best Hikes in SoCal

Cedar Creek Falls Trail Map

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Cedar Creek Falls Elevation Profile

Download Printable PDF Map

Address & Directions

Click the following link to be redirected to the trailhead via Google Maps: 5519 Thornbush Rd, Ramona, CA 92065

Helpful Links

Weather Forecast

Parking Permit [Required for hiking Cedar Creek Falls, regardless of whether you already own a SoCal Adventure Pass]

Hiking To Cedar Creek Falls

This is the entrance to the hike via Thornbush Dr. Input your name on the sign in sheet under the canopy and begin your adventure.

From the get-go you will be greeted with a beautiful view of Cuyamaca Peak, the second highest peak in the Cleveland National Forest, in the distant foreground.

The initial part of the trail will lead you down through a mostly dry environment, with the exception of shrubs.

But what it lacks in vegetation, it more than makes up for with scenic views.

Laying before you, is a breathtaking green canyon. The canyon which you must venture through to get to the falls.

The park rangers have been kind enough to build small wooden structures throughout the trail, not only to enjoy the scenery, but to also protect people from the harsh sun in the summer months.

Below is a view of the trail descending down onto the canyon floor where the drier Boulder Creek runs perpendicular to the trail.

If you visit in the late winter and early spring keep an eye out for wild cucumbers. They’re neat looking things but also toxic so don’t eat them!

There’s Boulder Creek in the distance overcrowded with trees.

After crossing Boulder Creek, you will arrive at this junction. Cedar Creek Falls is straight ahead.

Finally, the first sign of water.

If you look to the left while crossing the creek, this will be your view.

You’ve made your way down to the canyon floor, crossed Boulder Creek, and are now ascending into another canyon.

Once you see this strange rock formation which looks like a doorway, you’ll know you’re almost there!

The waterfall is so enormous that it literally towers over the trees, dwarfing everything in the surrounding area.

Stand at the base of the falls and take a good look at it. The water is cool, the air is fresh, and now all there is left to do is to jump in and relax.

cedar creek falls

The swimming hole is the best I’ve seen in SoCal. It’s so enormous that the locals provided a name just for itself, the Devil’s Punchbowl.

 (Cliff jumping is now allowed).

Cedar Creek Falls may be the most beautiful falls in San Diego, but the title for the most popular waterfall goes to 3 Sisters Falls, a three tiered waterfall with two swimming holes. Click the link to check it out.


How long is Cedar Creek Falls? 

If you start at the Thornbush Rd Trailhead it’s 5.6 miles roundtrip. If you start at the Eagle Peak Rd Trailhead it’s 5.2 miles roundtrip.

Is there bathrooms at Cedar Creek Falls? 

The only restrooms are located at the Thornbush Trailhead

Can you swim at Cedar Creek? 

Yes, you can swim at Cedar Creek.

Can you jump off of Cedar Creek Falls?

Cliff jumping is not allowed at Cedar Creek Falls

Are dogs allowed at Cedar Creek Falls? 

Yes, dogs are allowed at Cedar Creek Falls but they must be on a leash at all times.

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Hello, There!

I’m Phillip, and just like you, I feel very passionate about California and the outdoors. After many years of exploring amazing and hidden places, I thought I’d share them with you. Life goes by fast so get out there and enjoy it.  

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