Scheduled Hikes for 2006

 "Area", "Trip" and corresponding page numbers listed for each hike refer to descriptions in Jerry Schad's book "Afoot and Afield in San Diego County". It can be purchased at any major bookstore or online.

  Kitchen Creek Falls

Date:   March 19, 2006  09:00 AM -  05:00 PM
Hike Group:   San Diego Trail Tramps
Info. URL: 
Location:    Southeast corner of San Diego County, near Buckman Springs

Today we're headed to Kitchen Creek Falls near the southeast corner of San Diego County.  (Our last hike out there was March 30, 2003.) 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. If we get enough rain this month, water flow thur the area should be impressive. Wildflowers should be popping up, too.

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.

Directions to pick up parking pass: Take I-8 East to Alpine & take the Willows Rd. exit and double back on Alpine Blvd. about 1/2 mile to 3348 Alpine Blvd.  The USFS has a tan bldg. with a drive-up window.  There you can purchase a $5 parking pass “National Forest Adventure Pass”.  (Their phone # there is (619) 445-8341 or –6235.)  After purchasing a parking pass, get back on I-8 and continue to head East, past the Sunrise Highway exit.  Take the Buckman Springs Road turnoff, turn right and then turn left onto the frontage road; Old Highway 80, and go about two miles south to the Boulder Oaks campground and old store site (which only has the concrete foundation left).  Park on the shoulder, off the pavement.

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 the above 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 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.

Kitchen Creek Falls, 5/20/01