Dead Horse Falls Trail | Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

Trail Stats

2.62 miles
Elevation Gain
308 feet
Total Time
1 hours 3 minutes
Moving Time
59 minutes

Dead Horse Falls Trail is a 2.62-mile trail with 308 feet of elevation gain and is part of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park located in Descanso, California. This hike was nothing to write home about. Current reports mention the trail is overgrown. I will not be coming back to this trail unless it gets cleaned up and the water is flowing!

Recent reports from the trail claim it to be very overgrown with a lot of poison oak! Do your own research before heading out and be prepared.

Parking & Getting There

Parking at this location is very easy. There is a large dirt parking lot. Seeing that this trail does not get a ton of traffic, I wouldn’t worry if parking will be available at any time of the day. If for some reason you experience something different, drop a comment down below to let the rest of us know.

Directions: Google Maps

Dead Horse Falls Trail
The trail is represented in Green and the parking in Red.

It is important to note that there is a $10 parking fee at the trailhead. You’ll need to bring a pen with you so you can fill out the envelope as well as $10 cash to put inside the envelope. There will not be anybody present to give change. Other parking passes do not apply to this location.

The Trail

As mentioned above, this trail starts at a dirt parking lot with a nice trailhead sign that makes it easy to find. If you’re following the AllTrails version of this it will have you go in a fork shape. The first part of the fork will take you to the right on a fire road and then at some random point will have you turn around and head back to the split. I did not find anything special about this portion of the route, so it’s up to you if you want to explore it.

Once you go to the left-hand side of the fork you’ll be on your way to Dead Horse Falls. The trail was mostly easy to follow but it definitely lacks trail signage. There were a couple of places where we questioned if we are going in the right direction or not but were able to quickly pull up a map to verify.

If you’ve been following my videos or blog for long, you’ll know that I’m really good at poorly timing water hikes. When we got to the falls there were barely a couple inches of water and none of it was flowing. I’m not 100% sure what this looks like after a good rain, but for the distance we had to drive, it wasn’t worth it.

Once we were at the falls we briefly explored around. There were lots of air-soft pellets as if someone was just playing a game. We didn’t really hang out much either because the resting waster had a bad smell to it.

This trail does have a little bit of shade in it, but not a whole bunch so make sure to plan accordingly depending on the weather. There are no bathrooms on this trail either. Dogs?


Typically, I am just a fan of being outdoors no matter what the trail looks like. But for Dead Horse Falls Trail, I was just not a fan of it. Maybe it was my timing and the falls not having water, or the weird fork shape of the trail suggested. I would love to hear in the comments below about your experience and why or why not I should go back.

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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