Now that it’s summer, students finally have time to explore San Diego. There’s no better way to do that than to try a few new hikes in East County. Many students trekked through Torrey Pines State Reserve and Mission Trails Regional Park, but not as many traveled the noteworthy hikes of Mount Woodson, Cedar Creek Falls — or Devil’s Punch Bowl — and Three Sisters Falls.
Mount Woodson is 45 minutes away from San Diego State, located next to beautiful Lake Poway. In addition to the beautiful rolling hills, boulders and the strenuosity of the hike itself, most are attracted to what many call the “Potato Chip Rock.” This sliver of rock stretches out at the summit and offers a perfect photo-op for any hiking enthusiast wanting to flaunt their ability to conquer one of nature’s rigorous obstacles.
“Mount Woodson is a good hike in the sense that it is a hard workout,” SDSU kinesiology sophomore Kate Murray said. “The views at the summit and taking pictures on the potato chip make the hard hike worth the effort.”
With three different trailheads of varying length and difficulty, it’s up to each individual hiker to choose which hike best suits his or her hiking needs. Those interested in exploring Mt. Woodson should be prepared for a difficult, five- hour, seven-mile hike. The two other trailheads, which aren’t quite as challenging, begin off U.S. Route 67, and Blue Sky Canyon Ecological Reserve.
With the controversy surrounding Cedar Creek, it’s no wonder so many people are intrigued by its mystery. Despite the death of a 16-year-old boy last summer, and the fact that a number of hikers have been air lifted because of heat exhaustion, Cedar Creek lures novice and experienced hikers alike.
Located in the Ramona/Julian area, it’s approximately a 60-to-90 minute drive from SDSU. Whether hikers begin at the trailhead in Julian or in Ramona (which is currently closed) they are in for a casual 60-to-90 minute hike down to the falls. However, don’t be fooled — the trek back up is much more strenuous than the initial hike to the water.
“Everyone talks about this hike being so difficult, but it is not as difficult as they all say,” SDSU psychology junior Olivia Chernyk said. “It is really hot, and you do have to stay hydrated, but it is worth it at the end because of the all the fun things you can do in the water.”
The waterfall at the bottom of the mountain is an oasis for hikers in the midst of the hot dry hills. Here, hikers can cliff jump, rope swing and swim freely in a refreshing pool of water.
Another difficult hike in San Diego seldom traveled but worth the effort is Three Sisters Falls. Three Sisters is located in Pine Valley, about an hour and a half drive from SDSU, and includes 30 minutes of unpaved road at the end of the drive. It is the most isolated of the three hikes.
“I really enjoy this hike because it is so diverse,” Chernyk said. “You don’t just walk on a trail, you climb on your hands and knees, you jump from boulder to boulder and you can hang out in the water at the falls.”
Three Sisters Falls requires a full day of hiking, but those who manage the trek are generously rewarded with beautiful views, crystal clear swimming holes and three waterfalls.
Regardless of which trail you choose, there are tips and tricks for each one: bring plenty of water, sunscreen and snacks. Always try to go with friends and let others know you are going on a hike. In addition, be sure to set aside a full day to enjoy each of the destinations.
“I think it is important to include physical activity in our lives,” Murray said. “Not only is going on hikes a good way to do that, but it also a good time.”