Julian is one of the most popular destinations in all of San Diego County for a number of reasons – in the winter; it is one of the few spots in the county that receives regular snowfall. In the fall, it is also one of the few spots in the county that allows apple picking. Year-round, however, it is popular for its distinctive – and tasty pies. While there are a number of trails one can select in the area in an attempt to mitigate the damage from pie and donut consumption in town, the easiest and most family-friendly with the best view is at Inaja Memorial Park, which is located some six miles to the east of Julian.
San Diego County is an amazing spot with a number of well-known hikes, such as Cowles Mountain (the tallest point within the city confines), El Cajon Mountain (San Diego’s toughest hike), Potato Chip Rock (San Diego’s biggest social media-post-hike), Cedar Creek Falls (the other of San Diego’s most popular waterfall hikes), Broken Hill (San Diego’s best coastal view hike), and last but not least, the hike to Three Sisters Falls. Like all of the hikes on this least, the trek to Three Sisters Falls is, and has been popular for an extended period of time, even during the summer of drought years, when the waterfalls become a trickle, and can be nonexistent. Like Cedar Creek Falls, the hike to Three Sisters Falls has also had its share of bad publicity, with hikers leaving trash, hikers needing to be rescued, and hikers on occasion, dying. While these items led to a permitting system at Cedar Creek, at the moment, the hike to the Three Sisters remains, by and large, unregulated, although as of 2016, plans are potentially in the works to make the “trail” safer for all skill levels of hikers. Despite the past and present risks, the hike to Three Sisters is a unique San Diego backcountry experience that despite the crowds, lives up to the hype surrounding it.
San Diego is a city that in many respects is unparalleled for its outdoor and wilderness opportunities. Within the confines of the county there is terrain that ranges from coastal to alpine, and covers everything in between. While much of the coastal wilderness areas are well known to locals and visitors alike, one of the wilderness gems of San Diego is not as well known, the Laguna Mountains.
In 1995, a Democrat was President; cell phones were chunky bricks that seemed better suited to calling in air strikes; you connected to the Internet via this thing called a modem that was connected to this other thing called a land line; and cassette tapes/VHS tapes were battling it out in a format war with these things called CD’s and DVD’s. Even crazier, Val Kilmer was Batman. That’s right. Val Kilmer. Batman. If that doesn’t prove that the 1990s was a strange time, I don’t know what does. Back then, I was just starting out as an outdoor adventurer. There was no handheld GPS; we had handheld maps, and handheld compasses – and woe betide you if you placed your compass on a car hood to take bearings! We also didn’t have hiking forums, blogs, or websites – we had these things called books. At that time, the best book for San Diego County was Afoot and Afield in San Diego County by Jerry Schad, who was the preeminent wilderness expert for the region.