Kitchen Creek Falls on Pacific Crest Trail

Hiking Index

Cleveland National Forest
5 miles
See Photos

UPDATE: I haven't been since 2010, if anyone has been since then let me know, I am how the water levels have been. Thanks!


I've done this hike to Kitchen Creek Falls via the Pacific Crest Trail several times. Once was with a group from the Sierra Club. It was my first outing with them, and it was fun. The other times were by myself. The hike itself is pretty easy, there is some up and down hills, but nothing too strenuous.

To get to the trailhead from San Diego, take the 8 freeway heading east, and get off the Buckman Springs exit near Boulder Oaks. It's about 40 or 50 miles depending where in San Diego you're coming from, and it'll probably take about 45 minutes or less. When you get off the Buckman Springs exit, head south, then go south/east on old Highway 80. I'd say it's probably less than 1/2 mile, and you'll see a little dirt parking lot. The PCT runs through here, so to get to Kitchen Creek Falls start hiking on it, following north. You'll go under the freeway, but it'll only be a few minutes before you get away from the noise. It's a pretty remote area, so it quiets down quickly.

The trail seems to be well marked, but after about 2 miles start looking for a branch off the trail on the left to head down to the falls. There doesn't seem to be a specific way to get down to them, but if you follow the little side paths you should be able to find a way down. From my experience, it seems like there is a good place at about the 2.5 mile mark. Where the trail hooks around to the right you will see a PCT marker, and you can branch off here. If you go what would be sort of straight down or to the left, it is a little steeper, but if you go straight and to the right from here you can follow it as it descends gradually, though you will end up a little upstream from the falls. Once down by the water, you can follow up or downstream as much as you want, though depending on the water flow you may have to backtrack a little to get around where the falls are.

Once you're down there, it's a nice place to relax, if there's water it's even better. Spring time would be best to see the falls in action. The granite is all carved out by the water, and is pretty impressive. Bring some snacks and relax. If you do get to see the falls in action, enjoy it since for most of the year they are pretty dry.

View from maybe the first half mile or mile soView from maybe the first half mile or mile so
View of the water at Kitchen Creek FallsView of the water at Kitchen Creek Falls
View of the water at Kitchen Creek FallsView of the water at Kitchen Creek Falls

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