By Miriam Raftery
March 29, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) -- Effective Sunday, April 1, Cleveland National Forest will reopen the east access to Cedar Creek Falls located near Julian, off of the Eagle Peak Road. The west access to Cedar Creek Falls and surrounding area, located in Ramona off of the Thornbush Road, will remain closed for now.
The Falls have been closed since July 9, 2011 following the death of an El Cajon teen.
Visitor traffic to the site had increased dramatically after the Forest Service made improvements to the trail off Thornbush Road, which remains closed. Neighbors in the Ramona area had complained of parking problems due to crowds and rescues at the falls increased after the improved access.
"The trail that is being opened has not had improvements, other than typical maintenance,” Brian Harris, public information officer at Cleveland National Forest, told ECM.
He added, “ Neither trail is considered an easy hike as both trails are actually for advanced and well prepared hikers."
The east entrance is a longer drive from San Diego along a rougher road, according to ECM photographer Dennis Richardson, a veteran hiking enthusiast. The trail from the east entrance is also more challenging, though both are steep.
For those using the east entrance near Julian, the Forest Service offers the following information:
· The “difficult” seven-mile roundtrip trail is recommended for advanced hikers only
· Parking is limited, and vehicles blocking road access will be towed at owner’s expense
· Alcohol possession and use in the area including the falls is prohibited
· The cliffs surrounding the falls are closed to jumping and diving (swimming is allowed)
· Visitors are not required to have a permit at this time
· Law enforcement agencies will be on site to enforce these rules
“We’re opening access to the falls from the east side as many hikers are very interested in regaining access to the area,” said Joan Friedlander, District Ranger for the Palomar Ranger District, Cleveland National Forest. “We feel we can currently grant access from the east side in a manageable manner that provides for safety to the public, and allows forest visitors to enjoy this part of the Forest. We are continuing to work on a Mangement plan that will allow access from all Forest Service trails.”
The Forest Service closed the falls and access to the falls on July 9, 2011 in order to provide time to design and implement a management plan that addresses issues of overcrowding, damaging impacts to natural resources and public safety. The Forest Service is studying potential solutions with partner agencies, and intends to make a decision on re-opening full access in summer, 2012.
Note: note the Westside Truck Trail and Gower Truck Trail (13S10) that originate at or near the Thornbush Trailhead remain open for access to Gower. These trails/roads do not lead to Cedar Creek Falls and have not been closed.
A map will be available tomorrow, Harris said. For additional information, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5361333.pdf