This Southern California secret spot has been on my “to do” list since I moved to San Diego! Recently I finally took a day trip with some friends and explored this hidden beauty.
Located about a 1.5 hour drive away from San Diego, this hike can easily be done within a day. It’s roughly 1.8 miles out to the falls and 1.8 miles back (just under 4 miles roundtrip). It is only recommended for very experienced adventurers, mostly due to the steep incline in certain areas. In these spots, a rope is provided to help scale down the cliffs. It’s recommended to come between March and October – and it is particularly beautiful in Spring!
It’s best to go after there has been a lot of rainfall. This way there’s a lot of water and you can do the rock water “slide” (check out the video at the bottom!).
What to Bring
– Hiking boots – There are certain spots where you’ll need better grip than what is provided in running shoes
– Gloves – There is a section where you grab onto a rope for extra support down a steep part of the hike. Gloves are very helpful here.
– Plenty of water – It’s not so bad getting to the falls, but on the return trip you’ll be happy you brought along some extra bottles of water.
– Bathing suit – It’s freezing, but you gotta get in!
– Towel – Like I said, it’s cold, you’ll be grateful for that towel. 😉
After exiting off I-8 East, you’ll take Highway 79 North and drive through some beautiful mountains.
There is a section where you’ll need to drive over a flooded riverbed. I was in a standard sedan and it was fine.
The trail begins fairly easy and you’ll begin to see the 3 Sisters Waterfall in the distance.
Once you reach the rope climb, the real work begins. It’s very steep, but the level of difficulty really depends on your experience and fitness level. I found this part to be fairly easy and very fun, however there were fellow hikers struggling and a bit intimidated by the incline.
Once on the valley floor, there are two trails to reach the falls, one veers off to the right, and the other off to the left. The left side tends to be easier. For both trails however, be wary of poison oak. Look out for the blue and white ribbons representing the path to the falls.
When you reach the bottom of the falls, sit back and enjoy the views! You can always hike more to the top of the falls, but I did not do this.
For the ultimate 3 Sisters Waterfall experience, you’ll want to do the rock water slide! Please be extremely careful when doing this, and only do it if there is plenty of water. The rocks are very slick and people have died or had to be emergency air rescued out.
Over to you! Have you hiked the 3 Sisters Waterfall?