Kitchen Creek Falls is a short hike near the town of Boulder in Pine Valley, California. The falls are a short detour off of the famous Pacific Crest Trail and the hike is most popular for a series of cascades and a larger waterfall.
Hiking Kitchen Creek Falls Trail
There’s a very short season for waterfall viewing in San Diego County, but if one knows where to look, waterfalls can easily be found. Kitchen Creek falls is one such hike where people can view a moderately sized waterfall. This waterfall lies in the canyon of Kitchen Creek which is just north of the small town of Boulder in Pine Valley, California. Kitchen Creek is responsible for water drainage of a significant portion of the south-eastern foothills of the Laguna Mountains within the Cleveland National Forest. The beauty of Kitchen Creek is that the majority of the trail is on about two and a half miles of the famous Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).
The majority of the trail takes in the views of the foothills and canyons that surround the area. Meaning, there are no coastal or desert views from the top of a peak here. A good portion of the trail also looks down on the town of Boulder where Interstate-8 cuts through the mountains in an east to west fashion and to the south where the hills eventually run into another one of San Diego’s beautiful hikes, Corte Madera
The falls themselves are a series of cascades that tumble down nearly one hundred and fifty feet. From most of my research on this trail, many people seem to go just to the small cascades rather than make the steep trek and boulder hopping to the larger waterfall that tumbles a significant distance down the plateau. There is a small yearly window to catch this waterfall at its best, but for those that make the long drive, the views are worth it.
On A Personal Note:
The difficulty of this hike lies on the short use trail down to the falls from the PCT. The trail has an elevation loss of about two hundred feet down the side of the canyon into the creek in 0.2 miles. This decline can be slippery and difficult for some. In order to see the larger fall, there is short yet even steeper path that follows the creek to the south. This portion of the trail will require boulder hopping and is not suitable for all people.
Some people may be bothered that the southern view of this trail has a nearly constant view of Interstate-8 that runs through Pine Valley. For those looking for a trail with more views, just keep in mind that the star of this trail is the waterfall and not the surrounding area. I rated this trail as 85% difficulty strictly because of the boulder hopping required to view this waterfall. However, the majority of this hike is very simple. The views are strictly rated for the waterfall.
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