Scheduled Hikes for 2010

  Kitchen Creek Falls

Date:  May 16, 2010  09:00 AM -  05:00 PM
Hike Group:  San Diego Trail Tramps
Info. URL:  National Forest Adventure Pass
Maps for Kitchen Creek Falls
Location:  Southeast corner of San Diego County, near Buckman Springs

Kitchen Creek Falls Hike

Today we're headed to Kitchen Creek Falls in the southeast part of San Diego County.  (Our last hike out there was March 19, 2006, when it actually snowed along the trail during our return!) 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. With enough rainfall this past winter, water flow thur the area should be impressive. Wildflowers should be popping up, too.

How to get there: As usual, we'll meet in Hillcrest at 8:45 am to arrange carpools, then depart at 9 am. 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 10:15, then start hiking at 10:30 am. 

Across the road from the parking area, we'll pick up the Pacific Crest Trail, hike under the twin bridges of Interstate 8 and head east/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.)

Fees: "National Forest Adventure Pass": 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 Southern California collectively instituted a recreation fee program called the "National Forest Adventure Pass" (Cha-Ching!). Vehicles parked along roadsides and at trailheads are now required to display a National Forest Adventure Pass permit, or else risk being "ticketed". (Actually, it's a warning to go buy the pass.)

The permit, which costs $5 daily or $30 yearly (with a "2nd vehicle" pass for just an additional $5 ;^ ), 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 information go to .

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".

Hiking Safety Reminders:
• For safety, watch your step around slippery rocks, explore together in small groups, and be aware of possible snakes in the area, including rattlers. We ran into several on our hike there in 2001 & 2006. It's a water source for many animals.
• Always carry food and water with you when you go out for a hike.
• Always carry a map of the hike area with you when you go for a hike.
• Notify the hike leader if you have any medical conditions that may affect you during the hike.

The Ten Essentials: (a list of essential items hiking authorities promote as recommended for safe travel in the backcountry.)

1. Map
2. Compass (optionally supplemented with a GPS receiver)
3. Sunglasses and sunscreen
4. Extra food and water
5. Extra clothes
6. Headlamp (outdoor)/flashlight
7. First aid kit
8. Fire starter
9. Matches
10. Knife

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.