El Salto Falls

Waterfalls


California

,

Carlsbad

Why go If you like waterfalls and historic and peaceful places, you have to go at least once.
Why pass It’s sort of hard to get to and it might be trashed. It’s not for novices either.
Cost Free
Parking Free, plenty of it in the shopping center
Data 4G
Bathrooms Kohl’s has some
Scenic Rating
GPS 33.179371, -117.299519

El Salto Falls is literally a hidden gem. It has a rich history from when it was a sacred place for Native Americans. Of course you, sadly, wouldn’t know it from what it and the surrounding area has become.

It’s important to note if you are coming from far away and expecting a grand hike, you won’t get that. It’s also not the easiest place to get to. There are two ways to get to the the waterfall. There’s a top route and a bottom route. I haven’t figured out how to get there from the bottom yet. The top route is literally behind Kohl’s. Park in the back on the left side of Kohl’s. There are no markings of where to go but you’ll hear the falls as soon as you exit your vehicle. You’ll see a green fence along the back. Enter where the fence begins/ends and just hug the rail. It’s the best path because you don’t have to step on anything. Eventually, you’ll go through a cut fence and pass some rugs. Yes, rugs. It’s possible homeless people sleep there. The lizards seems to like the rugs though and there are a lot of lizards in this area. But the amount of trash around this place is unreal. There was so much trash around there and along the trail, I went to Kohl’s to get bags and filled one up to the brim. I didn’t even get all of it but I got the bigger pieces. Based on what others have wrote elsewhere, this is apparently a common problem here. Please be respectful of the area. Nobody wants your trash.

Once you slide down the little path you’ll see a mini pool to the right. It’s a very tranquil place with a very tiny waterfall. Unfortunately, I could periodically see what looked like a blue shampoo bottle bobbing in the waterfall. It’s the perfect metaphor for what this place has become. To the left, is the larger part of the falls and then you’ll see the large pool the waterfall trickles into surrounded by rocks below. You can probably go down to the pool but I didn’t feel adventurous enough to try it this day. The view of the valley and falls is still pretty amazing.

Despite what’s around the falls, I actually feel like I’m at an ancient civilization.

Although the trail is short, keep in mind it’s not the easiest trail to navigate. If you aren’t good at balancing and you don’t like rocks, you might want to think twice before going. Beyond the falls, there isn’t much to do here. Everything nearby has been developed. There is a biological reserve right next to the falls but there are no trails in it and there are no trespassing signs posted.

It’s sad people won’t really be able to enjoy this place for what it is. It’s just an afterthought behind another shopping center and sandwiched between two “luxury” townhome complexes. They should have made this whole area into a park complete with plaques and signage about the history of the valley and what lives in it. Instead we got this. And it could have been much worse. Apparently the developer wanted to bulldoze the waterfall and divert the stream. Why have nice scenery and wildlife if you can cram in more housing and shopping? If you want to know why humanity has about 100 years left, this is Exhibit A.

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