15 San Diego Waterfalls
About San Diego Waterfalls
San Diego definitely isn't known for its waterfalls due to the year-round drought we are most likely forever in. Still, we do have some beautiful waterfalls, although some merely seasonal. Although there are many more waterfalls that we have yet to feature, here is a list of waterfalls in San Diego. We do not give directions to the public to many to keep foot traffic down so please keep that in mind.
1. Cedar Creek Falls
The hike to Cedar Creek Falls can lay anywhere between a moderate, enjoyable hike to a downright deadly, strenuous hike and it all comes down to the temperatures and time of year that you go. This is very much a cool weather/winter adventure. Due to the trail leading you into a valley with no shade and no airflow, trapped heat causes very stressful situations.
With that said, this is fun hike in Ramona that will lead you to an 80 ft. waterfall and beautiful watering hole. Make sure to pack in every bit of trash you pack out. This area is known for being disrespected with littering.
2. Lake Hodges Waterfall
This whole area is extremely peaceful with plenty of native plants and signs identifying them and their uses. The Lake Hodges Waterfall is not huge by any means, but still worth visiting and perhaps having a picnic at!
The view is very nice from this spot. There is a huge lake and a variety of birds. Make sure to visit the waterfall in late winter/early spring after we've gotten enough rain for the waterfall to be at its strongest!
3. Green Valley Falls
Green Valley Falls lays within a campground which offers 74 campsites. The sites are located at an elevation of 4,000 feet where the Sweetwater River spills over boulders on its 55 mile trip southwest to San Diego Bay.
The river runs through the campground and produces a variety of cascades and shallow pools. I imagine the cold water would be great for cooling off on hot days. The hike itself was short but very scenic. A
4. Waterfall 1
If you are going to take this trip, I would recommend in springtime for several reasons: one, things will be at their greenest and in bloom and second, the waterfall will be running! I will update hopefully in the spring with some waterfall shots! There is some fun history here and the drive is gorgeous! I just want to make sure that you get the most out of your trip. Timing is important.
5. Kitchen Creek Falls
Kitchen Creek Falls is one of San Diego’s seasonal waterfalls, which is similar in size and characteristics to the Rancho Penasquitos Waterfall. The hike has a gradual climb that leads you into the back-country with beautiful, scenic views. You will eventually hit a small fork in the trail. Take the fork that leads you back down the hill to find the falls.
This hike takes you along part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Several of our hikes on this site covers parts of the PCT such as Eagle Rock and Kwaaymii Point. This hike is best done during cool weather and after we’ve received a decent amount of rain to ensure the creek is flowing.
6. Copper Creek Falls
We initially came here solely to look for the blasted mines but after talking to some bikers we learned of a waterfall in the same area. Score! Although many would consider these mediocre waterfalls and find disappointment in closed-off mines, I still found the experience to be quite rewarding. Afterall, it is brimming with history and there was something so peaceful about laying next to that running stream.
7. Waterfall 5
At this point I have little to no information on the waterfall or dam. I have contacted the local historical society to see if they can help so hopefully this page will be updated! From what I can gather, the pond appears to have been part of a water treatment plant. Historic aerials show what looks like a water facility treatment southeast of the dam, built somewhere between 1953 and 1964 and removed or abandoned by 1989.
I have read stories online about people fishing in the pond decades ago but there is such an extreme overgrowth around the whole thing now that it's nearly impossible to fish there anymore. This seems to be an old, forgotten location that is still brimming with beauty and curiosity.
8. Waterfall 6
I found out about this waterfall one day while scouring google satellite. It was clearly a waterfall, raging in the image, and immediately added to my list of spots to explore. The hike is truly stunning and will take you through an alleged haunted forest. This is also part of the historic Butterfield stage coach route which wound along the creek.
9. Adobe Falls
In my opinion, and especially for San Diego, this is a legitimate waterfall. The scores of graffiti adds an interesting, urban touch which is sad (not only because the graffiti is pretty terrible) but also colorful and slightly surreal. I guess that's what happens when a waterfall is easily accessible and neighbors a college town.
We no longer give directions to this spot as too many people have destroyed the land and have also harassed the neighbors that live nearby. One neighbor was actually murdered. Cops now regularly patrol the area so please just enjoy the photos and knowing this place exists.
TIP: If you're enjoying this article, make sure to check out our list of Hidden Gems in Orange County next!
10. Waterfall 3
This short hike leads you to both old ruins from an early homestead in the area and also this beautiful waterfall.
11. Rattlesnake Mountain
n this area we found an old cistern that appears to have been built sometime in the late 50’s/early 60’s going by aerial photos, an old mining prospect and a stone dam. In the late 1800’s a prospector found gold in this region creating a small gold-rush flurry. After some good rainfall, the dam will have a nice 12 ft. waterfall cascade over it.
12. Three Sisters Falls
This often crowded hike leads hikers to 3 large waterfalls. Having recently undergone some new developments, hikers will find a safer and more direct route to the falls, which alleviates the need to rock/mountain climb, lowering injury risks and casualty rates.
13. Waterfall 2
This is a pretty legit waterfall going by San Diego’s standards. I would say the main fall is around 15-20′ with several different cascades and pools. This is a short adventure but very peaceful. Due to construction all around this waterfall and an increase in foot traffic, we have removed directions on our site to it to help keep the amount of visitors down.
14. Waterfall 4
This is a seasonal waterfall that is best visited after several days of a good rainfall. The hike is beautiful with many accessible trails nearby and very little elevation.
We stumbled upon this spot one day while on a hike. I couldn't believe it had been there all along! It is quite impressive in size with a beautiful cascade. I would not recommend climbing on the rocks because they are slippery and if an injury happens here it is just going to bring attention to this spot and possible get it fenced off. Hike responsibly!
15. Old Man's Beard Falls
Sadly we had to take the article down for this waterfall as people were trespassing onto the family's property to see it. We were invited onto the property to photograph it but made it clear it is private property. This is a 3 tier, casdasing waterfall and said to be the largest in San Diego. The photo below is of the last part of the waterfall. Beautiful indeed and wish I didn't have to take the article down.
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