Top Waterfalls in San Diego

San Diego is most well-known for its exposure to the Pacific Ocean, and its oceanfront property, views, and historic locations draw visitors from around the country. One of the best kept secrets of the area is the amazing number of fresh water options that are amazing places to visit on your vacation. Check out one of these amazing waterfalls the next time you find yourself in San Diego.

Oak Canyon

This seasonal waterfall comes to life only following heavy rainfall, but when it does wake up, the water tumbles and crashes over a colorful jumble of metamorphic rocks in the upper reaches of this gently winding canyon.

Cottonwood Creek Falls

Another seasonal waterfall tucked into a hidden grotto south of the Laguna Mountains. The somewhat obscure trail leads to a tranquil series of cascades.

Green Valley Falls

The Sweetwater River tumbles over this multiple-tiered cascade on the south end of Green Valley Campground in Cuyamaca Ranch State Park.

Maidenhair Falls

A hidden, fern-bedecked grotto with a seasonal 20′ waterfall in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Borrego Palm Canyon

This spot offers not just a single waterfall, but a number of smaller cascades found along the creek. The easiest to reach is a small waterfall that flows near the first palm grove.

Horsethief Canyon

Less of a waterfall than a series of gentle cascades that empty into a beautiful pool at the confluence of Pine Valley Creek and Horsethief Canyon, when the breeze ruffles the cottonwoods and sycamores overhead, there is perhaps no more peaceful place in the county. Note: you will need an Adventure Pass to park at the trailhead.

Safety Note on Waterfalls

Many of these waterfalls lie within the county’s arid interior, where summer temperatures routinely hit triple digits. Given that rainfall is extremely rare during these times, hikers should avoid seeking out waterfalls during the summer and fall months. Rescues due to dehydration and heat exhaustion during these times are common, and most of the rescues seem to occur when unprepared hikers seek out waterfalls.