One of the things I miss the most right now is a good internet connection. We are camping at Pio Pico RV resort in Jamul, California. It is a great location because it is out in the country in the mountains yet it takes only 35 minutes to get into San Diego.
We love the park but we do not neccesarily like that we have NO cell phone reception and very limited wifi. I like to research my hikes on the internet before I take them to have the most up to date information about the hike/trail. For our hike into Cedar Creek Falls I relied on my hiking book “Best Hikes with Dogs Southern California”. The book is several years old now so we did not have the most updated information about the hike. The first thing we did not know is that there is another trailhead near Ramona off the Thornbush road. I am pretty sure this is the trail we would have taken if we had known about it. This location has easier vehicle access with a paved parking area and restroom facilities at the trailhead. The hike is a bit longer but very well marked. The drive into the trailhead we took was on the Eagle Peak Road located up by Julian. You will need to drive the narrow, winding Eagle Peak Road to it’s end. The road starts paved, turns to dirt and progressively gets rougher as you go. The road is passable by any vehicle, although I would be careful if there has been a large recent rain storm. This is not a good road to drive for those who have a fear of heights as there are some steep drops in certain locations. The second thing we did not know is that you need to obtain a permit to enter the falls area. We found this out when we arrived at the trailhead. There was no cell phone reception at the parking lot, so we were unable to find out if there were any permits left. We were lucky that 2 other cars arrived just after us and one of the people had a permit with 4 empty spots on it (thank you Amber). We were thankful that we would be able to get to the falls since the drive up from Jamul had taken about 1.5 hours.
There was a huge waterfall visible from the start of our trailhead. The waterfall drops about 200-300 feet.
We later learned that this is Mildred Falls, and it is a rare treat to see this waterfall. It does not flow often, and dries up very quickly. This waterfall has a longer drop than Cedar Creeks, but you don’t get as close.
Your first warning about this hike starts right at the trailhead as you pass through the gate.
We were thankful we were doing this hike in winter. The temperature was about 50 degrees with partly cloudy skies at the start of our hike. We brought about 3 liters of water with us, I would bring twice this amount if it is warmer. I would start this hike early in the morning, so you are not hiking up out of the canyon in the heat of the day. There is limited shade on this trail.
You will be able to see the trailhead coming in from the Ramona side as you hike further into the canyon. This is a beautiful hike even if you didn’t have the bonus of a waterfall at the end.
The wildflowers were just starting to bloom. I bet this area will be beautiful in a few weeks, especially since there is more rain forecasted for the mountains this week.
We hiked about 1.5 miles when we came to a fork in the trail. One member of the group we were with said this would bring us to the falls.
He had been here before and said that it would cut some distance out of the hike. We made our way across the ridge.
This is NOT an official path and is rough to follow in some sections. John did not like this trail and opted to hike back and down to the river.
We thought the waterfall would be right ahead of us. What we reached was “the top of the falls” just before it falls over the rocks. We were unable to view the falls from here.
We had two options at this point. Make our way back up the ridge that we had just left and descend steeply to the base of the falls or hike back out to where we turned left and hike 1.3 additional miles to the falls. We knew we were not up for the additional hiking miles since we had already hiked an additional .5 miles to this point. We decided we would hike back up to the ridge and then descend enough to get a view of the falls. Just so you know, there is no views of the falls until you get to the bottom. Gizmo and John decided to stay at the top of the ridge and I proceeded with the rest of the group to descend to the falls. This is a very steep route and I do not recommend it to anyone with a fear of heights or who is uncomfortable using both hands and feet to descend and climb back out. It is probably 150-200 feet of descent from the ridge down to the base of the falls. The temperature in this area was probably 20 degrees warmer than when we had started the hike. I’m in pretty good shape, but I was winded and tired by the time I climbed back out. The falls were flowing nicely and they were definitely worth seeing.
If I went again I would probably hike in from the Ramona side or continue straight on the path instead of taking that side path to the left. There were only 5 of us who hiked in from the Julian side. The base of the falls had over 25 people there, so it is obvious that the trail from the Ramona side is the more popular one. I spent a few minutes at the falls before starting the climb out. I was really glad we had picked a winter day to do this hike. We were all pretty tired by the time we got back to the car.
Today I ordered a cell phone signal booster. We have spent 10 days without cell phone reception and that’s about as much as I can take! We have heard good reviews from other campers in the park that these devices boost your signal up nicely. I’ll let you know how it works in a future blog.