Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Death at Devil's Punchbowl in Ramona

Now the rainy season is over and water levels at Devil's Punchbowl are dropping.  This makes cliff diving and jumping dangerous.  A sixteen-year-old hiker died after plummeting eighty feet.  Eight other hikers were evacuated by helicopter when they became severely dehydrated over the 4th of July weekend.

The trails were modified to make the hike easier, although no drinking water is available.  Hikers are encouraged to prepare properly in order to avoid dehydration.

Due to the tragic death, the county is now closing this trail indefinitely.  There have been complaints from neighbors about trash, noise and overcrowded streets since the forest service spent $900,000 spent on trail improvements, attracting more hikers than the thirty-space parking lot can accommodate.  Even with the new improvements to the hiking trail, this is a difficult hike for those inexperienced with steep trails.

Recent media attention to this once hidden waterfall will only attract more visitors.  The area will be patrolled heavily and citations will be given to anyone caught hiking to the falls.  Violators could face jail time.

When the trail is re-opened, please use caution when hiking.  Alcohol is banned.  Don't forget plenty of water and snack food.  Wear hiking shoes.  If you are not in good physical condition, please avoid this area.  If the signs are up notifying you the trails are closed, do not enter the area or you may end up with a heavy fine or jail time.  Please respect the neighbors at the entrance to the hike and pick up trash.

The trail will re-open once authorities put a good plan together to make the hike safer, perhaps adding signs to keep hikers from getting lost.  This waterfall is part of the Cleveland National Forest and it truly is one of the most beautiful places in southern California.  If hikers can prepare properly and use common sense staying on the trail, the Devil's Punchbowl can be a great place to visit.

For a video clip of the Cedar Creek Falls in Ramona, click here.

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