||Today we're headed to Kitchen Creek Falls near the southeast corner of San Diego County. As usual, we'll meet in Hillcrest at 9 am to arrange carpools. The drive out to the hike area is about 1 hr. 15 min. Take I-8 East, about 4.5 miles past the Mount Laguna/Sunrise Highway turnoff. Exit Interstate 8 at Buckman Springs Road turnoff, across from the I-8 Rest Stop. When you leave the freeway, turn left onto the frontage road (Old Highway 80), and drive 2 miles south to the abandoned foundation remains of the Boulder Oaks store (and campground). It's on the right side of the road. Park on the shoulder, off the pavement. We'll plan to meet at the parking turnout area out there about 10:30, then start hiking between 10:45-11:00 am.
Across the road from there, we'll pick up the Pacific Crest Trail, hike under the twin bridges of Interstate 8 and head northeast, up the southern slopes of the Laguna Mountains, to a hidden series of waterfalls on Kitchen Creek, about 200 feet below the Pacific Crest Trail. If you'd like to try a dip in one of the waterfall pools, bring a bathing suit along, or try skinny dipping if it's warm enough. (It can be a popular hike destination, so be aware of other hikers/families in the area...) Hike distance is 4.5 miles roundtrip, with an elevation gain/loss of 900'. It's a 2-star hike out of a possible 5-stars, in degree of difficulty, and should take about 2.5 hrs. plus break and lunch/exploring time. Wildflowers should be impressive.
Fees: This trip, along with many others in the Laguna Mountains (Areas M-1 through M-9 in Schad's book), begins on national forest land, and requires a "National Forest Adventure Pass" for parking at the trailhead. In 1997 the national forests of So. Cal. collectively instituted a recreation fee program called the "National Forest Adventure Pass". Vehicles parked along roadsides and at trailheads are now required to display a National Forest Adventure Pass permit, or else risk being ticketed. The permit, which costs $5 daily or $30 yearly, can be purchased from any national forest office or ranger station, and from virtually every So. Cal. outdoor equipment and sports vendor. The "stated purpose" of the national forest fee program is to provide funds for protecting natural habitat on national forest lands, and for campground and trail maintenence and improvement... At least 80 percent of the funds collected through the adventure pass program are supposed to be applied to local projects. For more info. about the "National Forest Adventure Pass", call the Cleveland National Forest at (619) 673-6180.
Note: In the maps section of our website, one of the maps for directions on going from San Diego to this hike location for Kitchen Creek Falls, includes directions to stop at the National Forest office in Alpine, to pick up an "Adventure Pass".
For safety, watch your step around slippery rocks, be aware of possible snakes in the area (we ran into several on our last hike there in May, 2001. It's a water source for many animals.), and explore together in small groups.
For those who want more info. on the area, check out Schad's book in Area M-8: Laguna Mountains, Trip 15: Kitchen Creek Falls. In the '98 edition, it's on pp. 208-209.