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By Miriam Raftery

April 25, 2017 (Cuyamaca) –From flowing water falls to blooming wildflowers, nature put on a spectacular show in San Diego’s East County. On Saturday,  I headed out to the mountains, taking the Highway 79 exit north off I-8 to start with a visit to Green Valley Falls in Rancho Cuyamaca State Park, followed by stops at Lake Cuyamaca  and picturesque Julian.

The heaviest winter rains in recent memory resulted in a profusion of water flowing at Green Valley Falls, an easy stroll down a shady pathway to a boulder-strewn, shaded creek connecting the falls that are tieed down the mountain side, ready to explore.

There's a $10 day use entry fee per vehicle,  and you can also reserve campsites at Green Valley Falls.

Long a  favorite of local residents,  the falls used to be open year-round but with state budget cuts,  it's now open only in late spring and summer. 

The earlier in the season, the better, while the water is still flowing, inviting you to take off your shoes and dip into the cool mountain water.

On my visit Saturday, kids splashed,  dogs waded in, and a young couple perched on a  boulder overlooking a verdant green pool below. 

All along State Route 79, wild lilacs are in bloom, dotting the roadside with rich splashes of purple and lavender hues.

At Lake Cuyamaca,  cormorants and Canadian geese have become permanent residents,  along with blue jays, ducks and other birds.

Fishermen tried their luck from rowboats, motorboats and docks along the pine-tree lined lake, where long-low water levels have replenished from the rains.

No visit to our mountain area would be complete without a stop at julian, a historic gold rush town where these days, the town’s “gold” has been replaced by apple pies that draw tourists from far and wide. 

Flowering trees blossom forth with pink blooms, forming a picturesque panorama near the Julian Historical Society’s headquarters.

There’s a  fascinating pioneer museum just below,  and a block away you can hail a horse-drawn carriage on weekends for an informative tour of the town.

On our way out of town,  heading towards Ramona, a rusted wagon wheel stands in a flower-strew field festooned with Calfornia golden poppies, California’s state flower-- a vestige of Julian’s pioneer past juxtaposed with  the rejuvenating beauty of nature on this sunny spring day.

Happy Earth Day from East County!

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