One thing that I love about San Diego and its surrounding area is that there are TONS of great places to hike, and I believe that the 3 Sisters Falls Hike is one of the very best! I’d heard (and read) many things about this “treacherous” hike and, of course, I couldn’t wait to try it out for myself! Now I’m certainly not some super avid hiker but I do stay somewhat active so I figured it would be great. And…..it was! Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a cakewalk by any means.
If you’re looking for something light & casual, I would recommend the Torrey Pines Hike in La Jolla, because the 3 Sisters Falls Hike is indeed pretty rough. The distance measures approximately 4 miles which isn’t too intimidating, but the terrain is the tricky part. It starts off gentle enough, and then the road starts winding down a bit. As we made our way through beautiful green pathways, I was thinking “hmm, not too bad at all” and then… we encountered the down slope.
The incline is quite steep, so be prepared to spend at least a bit of time on your bum. For the most part, there were rocks and other items to hang on to, so it wasn’t too much of a problem making it down. I will say, there were definitely some sandy parts where you had to be really careful to avoid slipping and sliding down the hill. All in all, just go slow and you shouldn’t have too much of an issue!
Once down, we followed the sound of water and made our way to the waterfalls. At this point in the year, there wasn’t as much water as we expected but then again, it hasn’t rained in quite some time. There was, however, still plenty of water for a dip! We changed behind some rocks and in we went. So refreshing!
The falls area is truly beautiful, so give yourself some time to just relax and take in the scenery while down there. Besides, the break is much needed for the way back up! We had packed some snacks so we lay in the sunshine and refueled with power bars, beef jerky, muffins, fruit, and the most important: LOTS of water.
On the way back up, we took a path less traveled and ended up a bit lost, surrounded by huge stretches of sage. No worries, we took the time to make some sage bundles to take home and retraced our steps. The uphill return is, quite frankly, the most difficult part of the hike. Make sure to save lots of water because you are going to need it for way back! Luckily for us, we had embarked on our journey pretty late (as in, after 2pm) so by the time we were heading back, it was after 5pm and the sun wasn’t too intense at all. I would imagine it’s incredibly hot earlier in the day! However, make sure to give yourself at least 2 hrs to get back, because you don’t want to be stuck on the path once it gets dark.
3 Sisters Falls: Hiking Tips
If possible, drive up in an SUV b/c roads aren’t paved (my car did okay though).
The drive from San Diego will take approximately 1 and a half hours.
Leave small children and animals at home.
Bring lots of water! I brought 4 bottles with me, which turned out just enough.
Make sure to wear appropriate footwear. Sneakers will do!
Definitely bring your swimsuit so that you can take a dip in the waterfall.
Bring some treaty snacks! (my motto in any situation).
Most Importantly: HAVE FUN!
Last Tip: If, like us, you were in dire need of an extra treat when you got done with the 3 Sisters Hike, I know just the thing: an amazing chocolate shake from nearby Descanso Junction Restaurant, located at 8306 Highway 79 (on the way back to San Diego). And, ahem, the taco salad. AND the Sweet Jalapeno Cream Cheese Burger. All amazing! Trust me, you will work up a huge appetite as well.