Cedar Creek Falls/Devil's Punchbowl - Hiking

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The hike to Cedar Creek Falls is a challenging 6-mile roundtrip that is not for the faint of heart.

Written by

Taylor Reilly


6.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

35.9 miles


4 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

5 hours

3-5 hours


Spring, Fall, and Winter

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits


National Forest Adventure Pass required



Despite the warnings and stories you may have heard about the Cedar Creek Falls hike, if you are in shape to tackle this trail, it's well worth the time. Cedar Creek Falls is a gorgeous sight to see, as is the concentration of cottonwood, willow, oak, and sycamore trees down around the San Diego River. When you get to the falls, take a break to look for fish in the pools, and then prepare yourself for the hike up and out.

What Makes It Great

The hike to Cedar Creek Falls is a challenging 6-mile roundtrip and is not for the faint of heart. The trail winds through a narrow canyon and can be very strenuous and dangerous in some sections. You start by hiking down into the gorge until you get to the falls, which means you will have to hike out of the gorge to get back to the trailhead. The dirt path is well-maintained, and there are regular mile markers along the way.

Cedar Creek Falls is a beautiful place, but it needs to be approached with the necessary knowledge and preparation. The cliffs in the area are dangerous and should not be climbed or jumped off of. The is little shade, and the brutally hot summer temperatures have been known to cause heat stroke, so bring plenty of water. 

Due to historic problems with over accessibility and publicized fatalities, the park now requires visitors to have permits in order to enter the area. There are limited permits available each day, so plan ahead. The best time to come is in the middle of the week.

Who is Going to Love It

This challenging hike is best for those who are in shape for an uphill hike, and ready to tackle a difficult adventure. If you think you're ready for this demanding, yet rewarding hike, then get your permit and get up to the 80-foot Cedar Creek Falls. 

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The trailhead is located at 15519 Thornbush Road in Ramona.

The western access to Cedar Creek Falls is available by reservation only and only 75 permits are available each day. Print your permit and carry it with you. Visit the Cleveland National Forest website for more information.

Written by Taylor Reilly for RootsRated.

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Cedar Creek Falls/ Devil's Punchbowl

Eagle Peak Rd
Julian, CA, 92036
33.026933, -116.6673

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