Green Valley Falls: San Diego Hidden Gem

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0.5 Miles


~15 Min




All Year

Elevation Gain

113 Ft

Looking for mountain swimming holes with crystal clear water and multiple cascades? Checkout Green Valley Falls in the Cleveland National Forest!

Green Valley Falls is a short hike featuring two pristine waterfalls and swimming holes in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. The trail is located within Green Valley Campground and requires a $10 parking fee. Dogs are not allowed on the trails, but are permitted in the campground.

I just have one favor to ask. Please do not tag or name this place on social media, as that is the precursor to tons of trash and graffiti. Thank you and enjoy!

Map of Green Valley Falls

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Green Valley Falls Directions & Parking

Click here for directions to the exact parking lot within the campground.

Parking fee is $10 per vehicle.

***Alternative Parking When GVF Campground is closed: Park near the East Mesa Fire Rd and walk towards the parking lot provided in the directions and parking section. 

Green Valley Falls Campground 

  • The campground is closed from Dec 1 – March 31.
  • Dogs are allowed in the campground.
  • Standard camp sites are $40 per night.
  • Parking/day use fee is $10.
  • To reserve a campsite, click the link HERE.

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Hiking to Green Valley Falls

The easy hike begins on the single track shown below.

Friendly reminder: no dogs are allowed on the trail. I have a feeling our canine friends have been banned due to the cougar sightings in the park.

The trail quickly descends onto the canyon floor where you’ll have to decide wether to keep heading downstream towards Lower Green Valley Falls, or upstream to Upper Green Valley Falls.

We decided to head downstream first, to the swimming holes and lower falls.

Notice the red arrow in the image below. If possible, try to climb down that boulder to be rewarded with a bit of fascinating history.

Once you get to the bottom, look for a hole in the ground called a mortero. The natives, known as the Kumeyaay, used these holes to grind their food, such as acorns, for thousands of years.

Some morteros can be as old as 9000 BC.

After exploring the mortero, you will arrive at your first destination, Lower Green Valley Falls.

The water is clean, the air is fresh, and it’s all calling your name. Not a single sign of trash or graffiti.

The large pool is safe for cliff jumping, but I wouldn’t recommend diving in head first.

Read More: Cuyamaca Peak: San Diego Winter Wonderland

The image below is the bottom tier of Lower Green Valley Falls.

The adventure is barely commencing. You can now make your way back to Upper Green Valley Falls. Simply follow the creek upstream.

It literally only takes about 10 minutes to get from the lower to upper falls.

The cascades at the upper falls are a bit more impressive, but they require some boulder scrambling to get up close.

To get to the top of the waterfall, head back the way you came and hop onto the single track again, as if you were returning to your car.

Read More: Super Fun Slot Canyon Hike in San Diego

Keep an eye out for a path that veers around toward the top of the falls.

The area up top is virtually all stone, and can easily be explored.

Expect completely different angles, with running water in the foreground and tall pine trees creating the perfect backdrop.

Want to explore another place similar to this one in San Diego? Check out these other natural pools and waterfall!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the water level decent year round?

The water levels vary year round, with spring and early summer months having chest-high water and fall and winter months having low water levels.

Can I rent a cabin at the Green Valley Falls Campground?

No, you can’t rent a cabin on Green Valley Falls Campground.

What is the Green Valley Falls website?

All up-to-date information on Green Valley Falls trail and campground can be found on California Department of Parks & Recreation wesbite.

For information on Green Valley Falls trail and campground check out

Can you swim at Green Valley Falls?

Yes, you can swim in the waterholes at Green Valley Falls.

Is Green Valley Falls dog friendly?

Dogs are allowed at the Green Valley Campground as long as they are leashed. They are not permitted on the trails.

Is Green Valley Falls open?

The Green Valley Falls trail is open year round unless deemed otherwise. However, Green Valley Campground is open from December 1 – March 31.

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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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