Mt. Laguna Rec Area & Cleveland National Forest
Outside of the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area are also numerous hikes to enjoy and explore. The most popular by far is the 3 Sisters Falls Trail. This is a very difficult trail and we've had many instances of hikers dehydrating and having to be airlifted out of there. This causes a lot of stress on our first responders and we ask that you please make sure you're prepared to undertake this hike. This is not a hike for beginners.
Gaining in popularity, this often crowded, yet challenging hike takes hikers through several ecosystems before leading to the main event - three large waterfalls wedged between tall, rocky mountains. Recently having undergone some new development, hikers will find a safer and more direct route to the falls, which alleviates the requirement to rock/mountain climb, lowering injury risks and casualty rates. Those who are interested in extreme hiking, mountain climbing, rock traversing, or otherwise challenging hikes will still appreciate elements of this trail, particularly if hiking to the third waterfall or traversing the rocky bottom. Those who are new to hiking, or are hiking the trail for the first time, should attempt to complete this in the cooler winter or spring months and allow ample time for the trip down and back out. It is not uncommon to see several heat related air rescues on any given day during the summer months. If you choose to hike this in hotter weather, start early and take at least a gallon of water per person.
Special Features: While the Three Sisters Trail provides wonderful scenery for bird watching and scneic, wide ranging vistas of the Cuyamaca, Sunshine, and El Cajon mountains, it is perhaps best known for the 3 dynamic waterfalls it is named after. During the winter and spring seasons, or during a wet year when the Cuyamaca Reservoir is full, Boulder Creek can experience heavy water flow, resulting in higher than average falls. In prime conditions, the “middle sister” is impressive, with water falls cascading 50 feet into a kidney shaped pool estimated to be about 10 feet deep. Be careful treking this area - the years of water runoff has left the large boulders incredibly smooth, making slips and falls common. Expect water levels to fluctuate with the season. During much of the summer, or in times of drought, the waterfalls and pools can be more of a trickle and a pond, with little in terms visual appeal or swimming potential. If hiking in the spring months when nature is in full bloom, poppies and wild mustard light the horizon with color, while peregrine and prairie falcons prepare their nests for incoming chicks. More info....
The path through Boulder Creek road also offers various hiking opportunities for different skill levels. It is an extremely rich and unique habitat that runs from Descanso to North Peak.