Cedar Creek Falls Sucks
This is quite something to say about what is the most picturesque waterfall in San Diego County. After the closure of Cedar Creek Falls, I hoped that something could be done to reign in the partiers, jerks, and immature people clogging the falls every weekend. After my first visit with the Cleveland National Forest’s permitting system, I was very disappointed.
So What Has Changed?
Virtually nothing has changed except for a guy who may check for your permit at the San Diego Country Estates parking lot. Descending the trail to the Falls, there were a lot of people. 75 permits are supposed to be released per day, and you can name several people on the permit. This was a weekend, and near the opening of the permitting system, so I wasn’t too concerned with the foot traffic.
As I approached the falls, I realized nothing had changed. There was no Forest Service presence to be found anywhere. People continued to cliff dive, which is strictly against the rules. In fact, people were steading themselves with one hand, holding onto the No Diving Sign, while scaling their way up to dive.
Across the pond at the bottom of the fall, the tree in the alcove still had the swinging rope attached for more diving.
As my friends and I left, we encountered numerous people openly drinking out of beer cans to the falls. This was a day that would get into the high 90s, and I even felt a little heat exhaustion heading back up the switchbacks. Yet, there were more people, worrying about having a party than being safe, endangering themselves and others.
In fact, I overheard a conversation to my right where the people claimed they had continued visiting Cedar Creek Falls during the “closure.” I have no doubt they were telling the truth, and by the absentee display of the Forest Service, no doubt they easily got away with it.
The half-ass measures put in by the Forest Service haven’t changed a thing. Cedar Creek Falls is a beautiful place overrun by a bunch of clowns and partiers who are making the place an unpleasant and potentially unsafe location to see. Their ignorance of this pre-closure helped provide the atmosphere that resulted in a death and very serious injury. It simply doesn’t have to be this way.
Cedar Creek Falls Hall of Shame
I could post a ton of these images, but you will get to the point. Cleveland National Forest, you can do better!
T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.