San Diego River Gorge Trail

Area Status: Open

Access to Cedar Creek Falls

Trail Views

Elevation Gain

1,800' elevation gain on return


6.6 miles round trip

Pets Allowed

Yes - On cooler days, with proper supplies. Bring extra water!


$6 per permit/up to 5 people (To enter the Cedar Creek Falls Permit Area); purchase at

Hike Time

Up to 6 hours


Moderate to Strenuous; Not recommended for beginners

Best Seasons

Spring and Fall; During the cooler months


Ramona, CA

Ranger District

Palomar Ranger District - (760) 788-0250

Cedar Creek Falls is a spectacular waterfall plunging 80 feet into a large pool of water. The San Diego River Gorge Trail leads hikers through the beautiful backcountry hills of eastern San Diego. The falls typically do not run during the summer months and the pool at the base of the falls gets stagnant and fills with algae.

This San Diego landmark location offers much in the way of beautiful scenery, great exercise and a natural watering hole. However, this is not a trail recommended for beginners as it can prove extremely difficult, especially during summer months, with a roundtrip journey that can last up to 6 hours. Those who do not bring enough water and supplies often succumb to heat related illness. It is important to assess physical condition before beginning this or any hike. Please take the time to read our Know Before you Go article for important tips and information. Or for a quick overview, check out our Cedar Creek Infographic.

For a list of more trails to explore in your area, please see our Recreation Trail Guide

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Recent storms have increased water flow in streams, causing water levels to rise with faster-moving currents. The water temperature can be extremely cold below the surface, even on sunny days, and Hypothermia can quickly set in and overwhelm even the strongest swimmers. Use caution when crossing through or entering waterways. 
Fees: The cost of a permit is $6.00 up to five people per permit.
Permit Info: A permit is required.  Please go to to purchase your permit. 
  • Alcohol possession and use in the area including the falls is prohibited
  • The cliffs surrounding the falls are closed to climbing, jumping and diving


Day Hiking

Status: Open
Reservation required?: Y
Permit required?: Y
Difficulty Level: More to Most Difficult

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities