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Cedar Creek Falls to Reopen Under New Conditions

The park will be limited to 75 individuals each day and will prohibit consumption of alcohol.

Officials announced Wednesday that Cedar Creek Falls in Cleveland National Forest will reopen in the spring.

The popular site—which was closed in July 2011 following the death of a teenager—will reopen under new laws prohibiting the possession and consumption of alcohol and requiring a visitor's permit. The decision was released after officials conducted an environmental assessment studying visitor use and addressing natural resource damage concerns.

“Based on my evaluation of the alternatives and supporting documentation, I have selected Alternative 2, the proposed action, for implementation as this is the best, most balanced method available to us to restore public access to Cedar Creek Falls while addressing natural resource concerns,” Cleveland National Forest Supervisor Will Metz said.

Under the visitor use permit system, a permit will only be required while recreating within the Cedar Creek Falls visitor use permit area, which is located in the immediate area around the falls. Other trail users including hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and hunters who are not recreating within the visitor use permit area or visiting the falls will not be required to obtain a visitor use permit, but they are still allowed to use and park in the San Diego River Gorge Trailhead parking lot free-of-charge.

The decision also includes the permanent closure of cliffs immediately surrounding the falls to public entry, in effect prohibiting jumping and diving from the cliffs.  The permit system and closures are scheduled to be implemented in early April of this year.  Until the implementation, the existing closures of the San River Gorge Trailhead and the San Diego River Gorge Trail will remain in effect.

Seventy-five visitor use permits for individuals and/or groups of up to five people will be available each day. Permits to visit the falls will be reserved through the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS) website.  Reserving a visitor use permit will require visitors to pay a $6 administrative fee per permit for up to 5 people to NRRS.

Officials say the decision comes after the study revealed a "dramatic growth in visitation in recent years has resulted in a variety of issues, including medical emergencies and natural resource degradation." 

“The designation and implementation of a visitor permit area is intended to reduce the number of daily visitors to a manageable quantity,” Metz said.  “It is our intent to continue to provide for an outstanding outdoor recreational opportunity, while being proactive about caring for the natural resources on these public lands, and to assist the public in providing for their own health and safety.”

Hiking Mon December 20, 2012 at 04:03 PM
What they should had done was implement this permit process during those months where they would see more than 75 hikers on the trails. Or better yet those days of the week that would see that much foot traffic. Once again we are being feed to death for what our taxes should already cover. And again the actions of few blew it for the rest of us. The Julian trail to Cedar Creek has been open. We hiked it in early June. Only the Ramona trail was closed unless that changed this summer.
Laurie December 20, 2012 at 06:38 PM
This is a ridiculous way to resolve this issue. So now a full-time ranger will need to be paid to monitor hikers/permits/alcohol? I doubt there are many days when 75 hikers come out. Sadly someone died in an ACCIDENT. Why does this require supervison of a trail? Why does this lead to a restriction because of environmental concerns? I live here. I want to hike here as I please, when I please. I will take the risk for my own safety.
Joe Smacker December 20, 2012 at 07:00 PM
This is outrageous And the most stupidest idea ever. Sadly this country and county uses every excuse on the book to start charging for whatever necessary issues of using our backcountry trails. We already pay tons of taxes for what ever California decides to taxes us and now a Admission fee to Hike a trail. Wtf Where were the People's vote for this stupidity Decision. Once again Another Heading meeting with money involved.
Dave Smith December 20, 2012 at 10:37 PM
The USFS is getting sued by the parents of the kid that "Fell" while climbing the rocks above the falls. There is nothing else they could do. Why don't you worry about the millions that the Government will have to spend to defend this lawsuit and not the permit fee. The public is paying the price for this kids mistake and the parents are just trying to get money.
S. Fulrath December 21, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Forest service is an environmentalist whacko front group and should be abolished.
DEBBIE SNAVELY December 21, 2012 at 03:23 AM
thank you for that information
Mike Fitzgerald December 22, 2012 at 02:00 AM
The last thing we need is MORE government. It is disgraceful that the parents are suing us(our tax's fund the FS), for their kids mistake. If he was only injured and need emergency care, and transportation from the remote location via helicopter,... would they be suing us then? Everyone knows the risk when they climb there. How is the Public responsible?
Kevin K December 24, 2012 at 03:23 PM
You're either misinformed or ignorant. The USFS is multi-purposed including timber sales, conservation, management, recreation, etc.
sharon January 10, 2013 at 11:50 PM
If they wouldn't have spent so much money making the trail accessable for anyone and everyone ie people who shouldn't be hiking and teenagers dragging beer down there, and left it a hard hike for people in shape that enjoy nature and exercise ...it would have been fine!!! Now the tax payers are paying for the "improvements" and now we cant use it !!! UGG it used to be my favorite hike now its boring with all the lame switchbacks..

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