Cedar Creek Falls & Huge Swimming Hole in SD

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Distance 

5.6 Miles

Time

3 Hrs

Difficulty 

Moderate

Season

Fall, Winter, Spring

Elevation Gain

1,049 Ft

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. 

Be extra wary of your dogs as this trail can get excruciatingly hot.

Map of Cedar Creeks Falls

Download Printable PDF Map

Directions & Trailheads

5.6 miles5519 Thornbush Rd, Ramona, CA 92065

Purchase parking permit for Thornbush Rd parking lot HERE

5.2 miles – Eagle Peak Rd Trailhead click HERE

Parking on Eagle Peak Rd requires an Adventure Pass (not the $6 permit). If you don’t have one, you can purchase it online HERE or in person via any of these vendors by clicking HERE.

 

Hike to the 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 2nd 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.

However, if you wanted to trek up to Eagle Peak, you would have to make a hard left.

If you descended from the trailhead off of Eagle Peak Rd. this is where you would cross paths with the hikers who parked on Thornbush Rd.

Finally, the first sign of water at Cedar Creek.

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!

Finally, there lies the giant beast. The waterfall is so enormous that it literally towers over the trees, dwarfing everything and anything 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).

Read More: 3 Sisters Falls: San Diego’s Most Popular Waterfall

FAQ

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.

Are 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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We’re Monica and Phillip. Just like you, we share a passion for the outdoors and our beautiful state of California. After many years of exploring amazing and hidden places, we thought we’d share them with you! We hope this blog shows you tons of new CA adventures!

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