Eastern trail to Cedar Creek Falls reopens - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Eastern trail to Cedar Creek Falls reopens

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CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST (CNS) - The eastern entrance to Cedar Creek Falls, off Eagle Peak Road near Julian, will be reopened Sunday morning after being closed to the public since shortly after a teenage boy fell to his death from a rocky cliff last summer.

However, the western entry point, reached from Thornbush Road in Ramona, will remain off-limits until further notice, the U.S. Forest Service announced Friday.

Alcohol will be prohibited in the area, along with jumping or diving from the sheer cliffs surrounding the waterfalls and a rocky pond that are some of the most popular attractions of the site.

`We're opening access to the falls from the east side, as many hikers are very interested in regaining access to the area," said Joan Friedlander, district ranger for Palomar Ranger District in Cleveland National Forest.

"We feel we can currently grant access from the east side in a manageable manner that provides for safety to the public, and allows forest visitors to enjoy this part of the forest. We are continuing to work on a management plan that will allow access from all Forest Service trails."

Visitors have been kept out of the remote spot since July 9, three days after 16-year-old Joseph Meram of El Cajon slipped off a trail alongside an 80-foot-high rocky precipice over a pool known as the Devil's Punchbowl.

The teen struck his head on boulders before landing in the pool. He was pronounced dead while being airlifted out of the area.

The secluded spot, long popular with sightseers and thrill-seekers who enjoyed leaping from sheer bluffs into the shallow swimming hole, had been a worsening problem for public safety personnel for some time. Increasing numbers of visitors were being injured there or becoming stranded without enough water or proper footwear for the challenging terrain, authorities said.

Last Fourth of July weekend, emergency crews had to transport 10 or more injured, dehydrated or heat-exhausted people out of the area, according to Cal Fire.

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