‘Hard closure’ of Cedar Creek Falls starts

By Karen Brainard

The U.S. Forest Service will implement a “hard closure” of the Cedar Creek Falls trail and trailhead,

This sign is at the forest service trailhead at the end of Thornbush Road. Effective midnight Friday, July 8, Cedar Creek Falls will be closed to the public pending authorities seeking a solution to better manage Cedar Creek Falls and trail. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

effective at midnight on Friday, said Brian Harris, public affairs officer for the forest service.

“No one will be allowed at the site,” he said. “Citations can be written.”

During Thursday and Friday, Harris said, the forest service could only initiate a soft closure of the trail because of the process involved in shutting it down. The gate to the parking lot at the end of Thornbush Road in San Diego Country Estates is locked today, he said on Friday, and forest service personnel are stationed there, advising hikers against taking the trail.

Legally, Harris said, the forest service cannot stop the hikers until the hard closure goes in effect. When that happens, law enforcement from the forest service and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department will be posted at the trailhead on Thornbush and at the Julian side of the Cedar Creek trail, accessed off Eagle Peak Road.

District 2 County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, along with law enforcement and fire officials were among those requesting the trail be temporarily shut down during a meeting at Jacob’s El Cajon office on Wednesday afternoon, July 6. The meeting had been arranged to address concerns about the trail and included homeowners living near the trailhead on Thornbush and U.S. Forest Supervisor William Metz.

About three hours before the meeting, 16-year-old Joe Meram of El Cajon died after reportedly slipping from rocks near the top of the waterfalls and plummeting about 80 feet, hitting some rocks on the way down, before reaching the water.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the young man who died,” said Jacob.

Since the forest service completed improvements to the trail and installed the trailhead at the end of Thornbush Road, homeowners living near the trailhead have been seeking relief from a situation they say has gotten out of control. Social media sites have been blamed for bringing out hundreds of visitors on the weekends, many unprepared for the approximately six-mile hike. Some hikers have been seen wearing flip-flops to walk the trail and many have suffered from dehydration, according to sheriff and CalFire authorities.

Residents say the forest service’s 29-spot parking lot at the end of Thornbush Road has not been able to accommodate all the visitors, and they complain of hikers lining the neighborhood streets with parked vehicles, sometimes blocking driveways. Destroyed landscaping, littering, excessive noise, and teens partying with alcohol and recreational drugs have been reported.

“Like neighbors in this area, I have been and remain deeply concerned about the crowds that trash the area, disturb the neighborhood and disrespect our forest,” said Jacob. “I’ve visited the scene and held multiple meetings with residents, stakeholders and the officials from the U.S. Forest Service. Each time, we have implored the U.S. Forest Service to better manage the crowds.”

At the top of the list of suggestions, Jacob added, is a permitting system that will limit the number of people allowed on the trail.

“The situation that exists now is simply too dangerous,” she said. “Careless visitors have ruined the experience for careful visitors and it’s time for the U.S. Forest Service to regroup and devise a safer way to steward the area,” she said. “For the county’s part, we have already implemented a number of traffic calming measures in the Ramona Country Estates area and will consider banning parking in some areas on July 22.”

Harris said the trail will be closed indefinitely until the forest service can work out a plan for the trail that is more manageable. On Thursday, Harris said, there were three distress calls from the trail but they were canceled.

Related posts:

  1. Cedar Creek Falls trail closes after news of fatality
  2. Rescuers airlift 8 from Cedar Creek Trail near Ramona
  3. Ramona CERT draws attention to Cedar Creek hiking hazards
  4. One hiker dies, another injured at Cedar Creek Falls
  5. Beauty of Cedar Creek Falls comes with challenges, risks

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Jul 8 2011. Filed under Featured Story. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

3 Comments for “‘Hard closure’ of Cedar Creek Falls starts”

  1. Jerry

    First off, my heart goes out to the family of the child who died in that tragic accident at the falls.

    I frequently take the trail to the falls and am disgusted with how this situation is being handled. Why is it that workers are able to fine people now with the hard closure? Why haven't they been fining those who have been partying, bringing alcohol, parking illegally, littering etc… already? How is it that all of a sudden with this "hard closure" a solution will finally be found? Many times I've been down there and seen partying going on – no enforcement of the rules that ALREADY EXIST is happening. I've seen partiers frequently, I've never seen a Ranger, Sheriff or any other enforcement type person there.

    To me this is the typical governmental/supervisory knee jerk reaction that will, in the end, change nothing, except take the trail off the mind of the general public long enough for the next crisis to take the headlines. Please stop taking the freedoms away from the general public because of an accident. This already happened once at the shooting area at Orosco ridge where there was an accidental fatality. That knee jerk closed the shooting area since last year, depriving all the local residents who used it of their ability to go shoot. It was closed so that some government agency could do some type survey to make it safer. Must be one hell of a survey! No matter how many rules and regulations you put in place, there will still be accidents.

    Please STOP taking the freedoms away from responsible citizens because of the inability of the few to follow established rules. Leave the trailhead open and implement parking regulations to protect those homeowners who are being overwhelmed. Fine people who break the parking rules, fine people who litter, fine people who bring alcohol. Do the jobs you have already been tasked to do – don't make more knee jerk regulations that just make it harder for people to enjoy themselves responsibly.

    Again, my heart goes out to those victims of accidents, I don't want to see anyone die in the attempt to have fun – it just isn't right, but please, don't punish those who are responsible. I'm sick and tired of this type government mentality.

  2. Ramonaboy2010

    It use to be a ramona thing…then people out of town heard about it and came up and ruined it for us…sick.

  3. Live Free or Die

    Typical gubment response. Hey retreads, why not close Highway 67?

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