Cedar Creek Falls Permit Area

Possibly the most traveled trail on the Palomar District, Cedar Creek Falls features a spectacular waterfall plunging 80 feet into a large pool of water. The trails down leads hikers through the beautiful backcountry hills of eastern San Diego with black oak, cedar, and cottonwood trees providing a great habitat for bird watching. Water levels at the falls vary substantially throughout the year. Typically, during the summer the falls are dry and the water becomes stagnant, whereas in the spring, seasonal rainfall promotes water flow. Those who are new to hiking, or are hiking the trail for the first time, should attempt to complete this in the fall, winter, or spring months when temperatures are low and the risk of suffering a heat-related illness decreases. Off-seasons are also a great time to hit the trail without the crowds, as this destination spot occasionally gets congested, making wildlife or bird watching very difficult. For those looking to travel to Cedar Creek Falls, familiarize yourself with the following beforehand and be prepared for a great ride:

Visitor Permit

A permit is required to enter the area surrounding the falls and must be purchased prior to hiking at www.recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777. Each permit is $10 and can be used for up to 5 people. Since there is a maximum occupancy, or number of people allowed to hike the trail each day, permits are limited in quantity and often sell out. Rangers will be checking for the permit number and a valid government issued ID, which must accompany all visitors listed.

Access to Cedar Creek Falls

Entrance to the Cedar Creek Falls Permit Area may be accessed by the east access located near Julian, CA off of the Eagle Peak Road or by the west access located in Ramona, CA off of the Thornbush Road.

  • Parking is limited, and vehicles blocking road access will be towed at owner’s expense.
  • Alcohol possession and use in the area is prohibited.
  • The cliffs surrounding the falls are closed to jumping and diving.  Swimming is allowed.

More Information

For more information on hiking this trail, see our Cedar Creek Falls Informational segment.


The Forest Service is continuing to work with partner agencies and interested public groups to develop measures that provide for the safety of visitors and quality of resource base. The original closure was put into place on July 9, 2011, and ran through November 8, 2011. A new closure order was implemented that extended the closure through April 1, 2012.  On March 30, 2012, new Forest Orders were issued that allowed for the east access to be opened, while the west access remains closed; provided for the banning alcohol use at the falls; and banning jumping and diving from the cliffs that surround the falls.


Forest Orders and Maps 


Public Safety Videos

Questions and Answers PDF (53 kb)