Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cedar Creek Falls Hike: Jan 1st 2011

 Looks Like I've been slackin' here with my trip reports. Time to get things updated here. With this season's repeated downpours, San Diego County's big waterfalls have been putting on a show. Big, in this neck of the woods, means a hundred feet or so. One of the easiest and accessible to casual hikers is Cedar Creek Falls. Another, called Mildred Falls, can be seen on the way to Cedar Creek. On Saturday, January 1st 2011, Ollie, Ralphie, Willie and I headed out towards Julian to hike out to Cedar Creek Falls.

Cedar Creek Falls plunges about 90ft into a large swimming hole surrounded by rock walls. It's one of the more popular hikes in this part of California, which is perhaps more known for its hot and dry climate than its waterfalls. While this is indeed an impressive waterfall, it can have a short life depending upon the amount of rain/snow fall during the winter. Starting out from the trail head at the end of Eagle Peak Road we had great views looking north up Ritchie Creek Canyon to see Mildred Falls, arguably San Diego County's highest at more than 100 feet.

Cedar Creek had quite a bit of water flowing and we had the whole area to ourselves, as we had arrived at the trail head a bit before 8am. By the time we had started back, a number of other people started showing up so it looked like we beat the crowds. During the spring a early summer its not uncommon to see well over 50 people hanging around the pool at the base of the falls. This 4.5 mile round trip hike usually takes about 2 1/2 hours, not counting the time spent taking in all the overwhelming natural beauty at the falls.

Looking out at Mildred Falls from the trail head, the tallest in San Diego County.

We didn't have to worry about high temperatures today. However many folks underestimate this hike in the summer and end up needing to be rescued by the Forest Service.

Many of the puddles along the way were partly frozen.

Looking north where the San Diego River and Ritchie Creek Canyon intersect.

The San Diego River valley starts to widen out.

Sadly, some people don't heed these signs.

San Diego River.

Our destination. Cedar Creek Falls.

We had several crossings of Cedar Creek.

View of Mildred Falls on the way back up.

The trail head had turned into a parking lot by the time we got back.

San Diego's back country.

Update: Tue. July 6th 2011

 "Cedar Creek Falls hiking area is closed indefinitely following the death of a 16-year-old hiker Wednesday and at least seven other rescue calls since Saturday.

"We are looking at the elevated health and safety concerns," Brian Harris, public information officer for the U.S. Forest Service told Patch Wednesday night.

Cedar Creek Falls is in Cleveland National Forest, bordering San Diego Country Estates in Ramona. Hundreds of people hike in the area every weekend from throughout San Diego county and beyond. Sheriff's Lt. Julie Sutton of the Ramona substation recently expressed concern about young people partying in the area now that they are on summer vacation.

Saul Villagomez, battalion chief with Ramona Fire Department, echoed that concern in an interview with Patch on Wednesday. See the attached video.

Harris said law enforcement will be stationed at the facilities Thursday morning, and both of the two trailheads will be closed.

He said the Forest Service will need to discuss the closure with its general counsel to determine how long the area will remain shut off to the public.

In Wednesday's accident, an El Cajon teen died after falling from a steep cliff, according to the medical examiner. Another teen was taken to Palomar Medical Center.

Although it's reported that the teen fell — and did not jump — Villagomez told Patch that some people party with alcohol and then take the plunge, which can cause serious injuries over summer when the water is low.

Cedar Creek Falls is considered one of the most popular hiking locations in San Diego county."

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