Cedar Creek Falls clientele changes with permit system
The Visitor Use Permit system for Cedar Creek Falls trail appears to be working well, according to the Cleveland National Forest.
Joan Friedlander, district ranger for the Palomar District said the maximum amount of 75 permits per day is usually met on the weekends. Each permit allows up to five people, but she said the average has been three hikers per permit.
The trail and falls area reopened on April 5 under the permit system. Permits are $6 each and can be obtained online at recreation.gov, a federal parks website.
The western access to the falls is the trailhead at the end of Thornbush Road in San Diego Country Estates. It was closed July 9, 2011, three days after 16-year-old Joseph Meram of El Cajon slipped while walking on a footpath and plunged off an 80-foot-high precipice over a pond known as the Devil’s Punchbowl, fatally striking his head on boulders during the falls.
Numerous rescues had also been performed on the popular trail, and residents living nearby complained of overflow parking in the neighborhoods, party-goers, noise, and litter.
Friedlander said there are still visitors showing up who are not aware of the new permit system.
“Our compliance right now is about 60, 70 percent and that’s not bad,” she said.
The forest service’s law enforcement and recreation officers patrol the area and have issued some tickets for hikers without a permit, and jumping off the cliffs or drinking alcohol, both of which are prohibited for safety reasons.
However, Friedlander said, the party-goers seem to have moved on.
“Our clientele has really shifted,” she said.
Another problem at Cedar Creek Falls had been the number of emergency rescues due to people who were unprepared for the strenuous hike and heat, and did not bring enough water to drink or wear proper footwear. Facebook posts and YouTube videos of young people at the falls also drew visitors.
Friedlander said the forest service has been working with Google to have its website for Cedar Creek Falls come up first. In addition, QR codes have been added at the trailhead sign so visitors with smartphones could possibly purchase a permit if they did not realize they needed one. However, reserving a permit ahead of time is recommended.
Markers every quarter mile on the Ramona and Julian sides of the trail have been posted to let hikers know how much farther they have, in case they are tiring. The markers will also help to provide a location when calling in for an emergency, the ranger said.
“We’ve done everything we could think of.”
- Access to Cedar Creek Falls to open April 5 under permit system
- Cedar Creek Falls to reopen in the spring, but no alcohol, no jumping, no diving
- Forest service opens access to Cedar Creek Falls near Julian
- Cedar Creek Falls to open, despite lawsuit
- Plan for Cedar Creek proposes 75 permits per day
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