Hiking Cedar Creek Falls

On Saturday, seven of us tackled the Cedar Creek Falls (aka Devil’s Punchbowl) hike in the Cleveland National Forest outside of Julian. At just 4.5 miles round-trip it was relatively easy, yet the waterfall made it one of our most rewarding San Diego hikes so far!

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From SR-79 in Julian we took Pine Hills Road to Eagle Creek Road, the last 8 or 10 miles of which were unpaved. The way in was okay but on the way home our Prius struggled to gain traction up the steep gravel road. All but the driver had to get out of the car and give it a head start at the base of the hill. It’s the best car ever, except about once a month when we’d love to have an SUV for adventures like this. Anyway, the trailhead was easy to spot with many cars already there — not a surprise, as we arrived after 11am.

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Since it’s February the temps were safely in the 70s/80s and the vegetation was relatively green. I wouldn’t want to come here in the summer:

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The trail starts on a ridge and descends into a valley. It’s well marked and easy to follow. We crossed Cedar Creek a few times toward the bottom. Rainfall has been below average this winter — still flowing water, but also plenty of dry stones for our crossing.

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After just over two miles of descent we reached the beautiful waterfall!

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There were lots of other hikers enjoying snacks on the rocks with their boots off, and dogs ran around shaking water from their fur. Several people had braved the icy water to take a dip in the swimming hole. K and R were even bold enough to jump in from the rocks above. I’d love to try it another time… maybe!

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I really enjoyed the group we came with — everyone had a compatible fitness level and we had some great conversations that ranged from boxing fighter strategy to novel feminine hygiene products to the morality of the death penalty and reliability of our justice system. Cheers to friends who have a million interests and who I can learn from every day!

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The hike back up obviously took more effort than the way down, but there weren’t any difficult or tricky parts. Someone mentioned cheeseburgers and there was no ignoring the hunger after that (don’t you hate when that happens!) so we stopped at a bar in El Cajon for food and a celebratory beer on the way home.

We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the world — not only gorgeous places to explore, but hot sunny weather in February! I don’t ever want to take it for granted!

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