San Diego County’s 3-tiered seasonal waterfall in Cleveland National Forest is definitely worth a visit when the water is running.
At the beginning of the hike, these 3 lovely trees will greet you.
The falls are much more impressive than you might expect. As you hike down the trail, you can see the frothy, white veils in the distance.
For me, it was vaguely reminiscent of Yosemite. Of course, I was fortunate to experience the area after a rainy season, during the spring super bloom. The hillsides were green and sprinkled generously with wildflowers. If you’ve been following my superbloom posts (Walker Canyon, Diamond Valley Lake, Denk Mountain) this spring, you know I can’t get enough of these wildflowers. (I wasn’t expecting any on this hike and what a wonderful surprise to see the colorful abundance along the trail – perfect wildflower filters for my distant water shots.)
It’s a pleasant single-track, out & back trail that takes you down to the falls and then bring you back up to the parking area.
The falls are a wonderful spot to have a picnic, cool off, and while away the afternoon – that is if you don’t mind being joined by too many humans who have the same idea. (Heavy sigh.) Be forewarned, this is one of San Diego’s most popular hikes so go early or be prepared for the crowds and a full parking lot.
If you want to add on another hike, the Cedar Creek Falls hike is in the vicinity too. Since I’ve done that one already, I decided to take the scenic drive out the other side on Descanso Road.
The Scoop on 3 Sisters Waterfall Hike
Distance: 4 miles RT (out & back)
Elevation gain/loss :1000 ft (downhill on the way out, uphill on the way back)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate, depending on your fitness level. Trail run friendly on a non-crowded morning.
Getting there: From the town of Julian, turn left on Pine Hills Road, right on Eagle Creek, and left on Boulder Creek Road, which will become dirt road for the last 5 miles.
Note: Both Boulder Creek and Descanso are dirt roads with potholes, but no suv or 4-wheel drive needed. A regular passenger car with adequate ground clearance will do the trick as you have patience with potholes and bumps. However, it might not be prudent to attempt it without a SUV or 4-wheel drive after a heavy rain.
Fee: Display a National Forest Adventure Pass – $5 day pass [purchase info] https://www.fs.fed.us/portaldata/r5/ap/r5-ap-vendors.php
On the way home, I added on short, vertical hike / scramble at Flinn Springs County Park on old highway 80 off highway 8. Post to come.