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“Always worth the hike; now you'll need a permit, and they're limited”
4 of 5 bubbles Review of Cedar Creek Falls

Ranked #8 of 38 things to do in Julian
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Attraction details
Owner description: Springtime-only waterfalls fed by melting winter snow.
Los Alamitos, California
Level Contributor
15 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Always worth the hike; now you'll need a permit, and they're limited”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 8, 2013

The (April) hike to Cedar Creek Falls was lined with wildflowers sprouting from the recent rains in March. I could have been happy just walking around to see the colorful variety, but the falls beckoned! The amazing sight has just opened again to visitors, although now you must have a permit.

This is the perfect weather and water flow before it gets hot in June. There is a lot of water coming over the falls now; but there was less rain and snow this year, which will effect the amount of water as we approach summer. If there is rain before your trip, expect the creek below the falls to be higher, cold, and tricky to cross.

But now you'll need to plan ahead for the opportunity. Access is now limited because of past overcrowding and injuries from jumping or falling from the cliffs. Only 75 permits ($6 each) for individuals and/or groups of up to five people are available each day, by reservation, online at www.recreation.gov. I always like mid-week, because there are fewer hikers; but with the new system, it remains to be seen what effect it will have.

There are only 29 parking spots on the trailhead off of Thornbush Road. Cars blocking road and driveway access are towed at owner's expense. The cliffs surrounding the falls are closed to jumping and diving. Swimming is allowed.

The trail to Cedar Creek Falls is not for beginners. It's a 5 1/2 mile hike... with no shade from the sun. Returning is harder, as it's mostly uphill. Taking at least a gallon of drinking water is recommended. Good walking footwear is a must. Leave your dog at home. This trail is not easy on the paws because of sharp rocks and it can get very hot. This area is remote.

Right now, the pool at the bottom of the falls is clear, and cold! The granite boulders on the edges are a great "warm-up" spot, and the tall trees can give a lot of shade.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
6 Thank konabish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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36 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Wakefield, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
96 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 104 helpful votes
“Barely a hike, barely a waterfall”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 4, 2013

If you're here for the hike, you might want to look elsewhere - there are literally thousands of better places to hike. If you are here for the waterfall - well, you may enjoy this easy touristy walk. But it's difficult to know when is the best time to see it in full flow - when I went in Early March, it was more than a trickle, but hardly a torrent.

Despite what others have said, if you are anything of a hiker, this will not be a challenge to you. A well trodden path, with an gentle grade takes you down the side of a valley to a picturesque, but unremarkable waterfall - it really doesn't look any better in real life than in the pictures.

The way down is easy walking, there is little risk: no exposure to falls and no trip hazards. in fact, the most difficult part of the whole thing is the 2/3 foot scramble onto the rocks that you'll need to do if you want to dip your feet in the water hole beneath the falls themselves. The way back up is more of the same, but you're going against the gradient. But it is never steep, and slow and steady will see walkers of all fitness make it back to the top.

The Ramona side of the hike is currently closed after a fatality in 2011. On the Julian side, there's not much car parking at the trailhead. There is a pull out on the left at the brow of the hill, and a few spaces right at the trail head.

The swimming hole is not particularly clean, and there is some litter. When I got there, on an unseasonably warm early March day there were maybe 25 sullen teenagers already down there, lounging on the rocks and not of a mind to make way for anyone else, or to move out of the way for you to take photos. if I were to do it again, I'd set out at dawn (or even before, this would be a simply walk with a head torch) and beat the crowds.

It took me 1hr 20mins to get down and back, including maybe 10 minutes at the falls. I took a bottle of local apple juice with me, but by the time I got back to the car, I was ready for another drink. In summer - there is some risk of dehydration for less fit walkers who spend longer in the canyon, so if you are going down - be sure to take plenty of liquid, and some head cover.

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
7 Thank DoctorDee69
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tallinn, Estonia
Level Contributor
49 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Oneofakind”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 4, 2012

visited the waterfall first when it was wet season. The waterfall was really wide and powerful, getting over to the other bank was challenging. With dry season it was funny, high rockwall with a really narrow waterfall. But still worth visiting when near Airlie Beach. Have a picnic or take a hike to the top of waterfall.

Visited February 2012
Helpful?
5 Thank Karl007K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Alamitos, California
Level Contributor
15 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Cedar Creek Falls -- Reopened, with limitations”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 22, 2012

The Julian access side of the falls has reopened, BUT the Ramona (West side) access remains closed. The Sheriff patrols the area, including by helicopter. There as so far no changes after the closing caused by the fatal fall of a teen. US Forest Service says they are considering a permit system limiting visitors. As far as the waterflow over the falls goes, it was a very low rainfall season, and unless that changes there will be little water flowing, and the pool at the botom of the falls will tend to stagnate, Right now I look forward to improvements that will not only make it safer for visitors, but also protect this one-of-a-kind gem that I first visited 50 years ago.

Visited April 2012
Helpful?
9 Thank konabish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Escondido, California, United States
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Cedar Creek Falls News”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 13, 2011

The Forest Service is proposing a number of actions to manage recreation at Cedar Creek Falls and in the surrounding area. These actions include requiring a visitor permit to visit the falls, developing unpaved parking at the junction of Eagle Peak and Cedar Creek roads, and constructing a trail connection between this junction and the southernmost Eagle Peak Preserve property. YOU have the right to provide input to the Forest Service under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Visit the Cleveland National Forest website to learn more about the proposal and how to get involved: http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=37332

Visited June 2011
Helpful?
2 Thank BjornF11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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