With miles of pristine beaches, rolling chaparral covered hills, and a constant semi-arid desert climate, San Diego will never be identified as one of the hot spots for waterfalls or hikes to waterfalls. However, unbeknownst to many people, from December through Memorial Day, San Diego does have a number of great seasonal waterfall hikes that highlight some of the best features of the county’s backcountry. As all of these waterfalls are seasonal, timing is everything, and also somewhat dependent on the weather pattern for the year. During wet winters and springs, these waterfalls will have high flows, and creek crossings; and during drought years, there may only be a trickle and dry stream beds. Similarly, with respect to timing, at the right times, these waterfalls can and will appear spectacular – but at the wrong times, may be a letdown after a hot, dusty trek. Keeping all that in mind, these hikes can also be great gateways to explore other regions of San Diego County, and again, at the right times, great spots to view spring wildflowers. I’ve listed the below hikes in order of difficulty, and let me know your thoughts about them, or any additions you have to the list below!
Among outdoor enthusiasts, through hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (“PCT”) is one of the most coveted accomplishments. But at 2,650 total miles, completing the PCT is a daunting task that requires a substantial amount of time. As a result, instead of completing the PCT in one fell swoop, many hikers elect to “section hike” – hike sections of the trail – over an extended period of time. While perhaps not as glamorous as a through hike, section hiking allows hikers to complete the trail at their schedule, and allows one great latitude to appreciate the many hidden gems that are along the PCT. One of the first hidden gems along the PCT is Kitchen Creek Falls, a seasonal waterfall that is just off the first section of the PCT near Campo, California. Irrespective of whether one is starting out to complete all of the PCT, section hike the PCT, or head out for a day hike, Kitchen Creek Falls is a great destination year-round.