Cedar Creek Falls Trail: Ramona, CA

Trail Stats

5.63 miles
Elevation Gain
1,056 feet
Total Time
2 hours 49 minutes
Moving Time
2 hours 14 minutes

Cedar Creek Falls Trail is a 5.63 mile out and back trail with 1,056 feet of elevation gain and is part of Cleveland National Forest located near Romana, CA. This is a very popular hike that can be extremely dangerous during the summer months.

Permit Required: In order to do this hike, you MUST have a permit. Instructions on how to obtain a permit can be found HERE. On the right hand side you can choose from dates that have permits available, then press the “Book Now” button. Yes.. There will be someone at the trail head checking, you are just about guaranteed to have to show your permit!

Parking & Getting There

Getting to the trail and parking at Cedar Creek falls is very easy. Once you arrive there should be plenty of parking as can be seen in the red outline below. If for some reason you are not able to find parking, there is a nearby residential neighborhood. Even though this is a very popular trail, it does not get a large amount of visitors due to the fact this trail requires a permit. In addition to the permit, you can see outlined in blue below, there is a checkpoint where your permit is verified before starting your journey.

Directions to parking: Google Maps

Cedar Creek Falls Trail Parking
The trail is represented in Green and the parking in Red. Permit Checkpoint is Blue

The Trail

As already mentioned above, it is important to note that this trail requires a permit. Once you have gone through that process and make it to the trailhead you get to enjoy your journey to the falls. The trail itself is very easy to follow and is what I like to call a “reverse hike”. Essentially what this means is you start the hike making your descent to the falls. On the way back is where you see all the elevation gain.

You must bring a printed copy of your permit; digital copies on your cell phone will not be accepted. Failure to provide proof of permit while in permit area will result in a citation. USDA Forest Service is not responsible for failure of mobile devices; there is no cell signal at or near the falls area.


For the most part the trail is not strenuous. There are not rock scrambles or confusing paths to worry about. I would relate the way back up to walking on a treadmill with a decent incline the whole time. The danger for this trail comes from the location and being un-prepared. This trail gets extremely hot during the summer months. You will find the trail shut down when extreme conditions exist. This is because people will still go try to do the hike in 110+ degree weather. Since there is no shade, this is a really bad combo. This helps save rescue efforts big time. Make sure to check the website before your scheduled hike to make sure it is still open. You need to be prepared, oftentimes people run out of water on warm days and need to be rescued.

The hike starts by going down a mountain (or maybe best classified a big hill) until you reach the valley. Once at the valley you will work your way through some tree coverage and over some rocks. Before you know it you will be at the waterfalls!

It’s import to know the rules when you visit. Not following the rules can result in injury and some significant penalties. Most importantly, the upper falls are closed and not open to jumping. I don’t think there are any rules that prevent you from swimming here (don’t quote me on that), but keep in mind if the water isn’t moving, it isn’t being naturally filtered, so that stagnant water is most likely full of nasty bacteria that you do not want to be swimming in.

All cliff areas above and around the falls are closed (no climbing, jumping or diving anywhere along the cliffs adjacent to or near the falls).
– No alcohol is allowed in the Cedar Creek Falls area, including at the trailheads and along the trails.
– All visitors must be listed on the permit and must carry government issued photo ID (except dependent minors whose parents are present).
– Campfires are prohibited.

Violations of the above regulations could result in up to six months imprisonment or a maximum fine of $5,000.



Going to Cedar Creek Falls is something that you should definitely check out if you are into hiking. It’s important to time the hike correctly so that the water is moving and you get to enjoy the waterfall, rather than a stagnant pool of water like I did.

Photo Gallery

Wrap Up

Is there a specific hike that you would like to see next? Leave a comment down below or reach out via the Contact Form and hopefully I will be able to get a recap and virtual hike posted soon! Thanks for stopping by, enjoy your adventure.

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