West Side Road is a lesser known hike in the San Diego River Gorge area around Ramona – far, far less popular than the very busy Cedar Creek Falls hike, even though it starts almost at the same area (the San Diego Country Estates). The reason is of course that, even though a waterfall awaits at the end, it is only the view of a waterfall, and it is a highly ephemeral fall too. Its name is Devil’s Jumpoff and unlike Cedar Creek Falls, it flows only after good winter storms.
Besides a view of the waterfall, the reason to hike West Side Road in spring is the beautiful landscape all around, and the relative solitude that can be found here, of course. The hike is most popular in early spring – in late spring and throughout the summer, it can be very hot here in the back country and I would advise against going then.
After an atmospheric river event on February 14th, I hiked this trail because I was of course hoping and expecting to see Devil’s Jumpoff flowing, and I reached the viewpoint for the waterfall just at sunset — almost as if I had planned it. ;-) Without a good cloud cover, Devil’s Jumpoff would probably be best photographed early to mid morning — in the afternoon and evening, direct sunlight hits the falls, which is less than ideal.
At the waterfall viewpoint, West Side Road is reduced to a single track hiking trail, and it soon leaves Cleveland National Forest land and enters private property. The waterfall itself is off limits, but it is best viewed from West Side Road, anyway. The few people I met and talked to on this hike inspired me to compile more information on our various San Diego County Waterfalls, by the way. ;-)
Here are some impressions: