Distance: 4.0 miles .Elevation Gain: 1000 feet. Time to complete: 3 hours roundtrip * This really depends on your skill levels, if you are experienced and fit it should take you about 3 hours, more if you spend some time swimming around at the falls or if you are inexperienced at hiking *
Equipment: Make sure you have a good pair of hiking boots, I see a lot of kids hiking in running shoes but that is a good way to twist an ankle, also you are going to want the grip that a good pair of hiking boots will give you. Also make sure your bring a lot of water, you may not notice it on the way down but you will need it for the return trip. You may also want a pair of gloves for the ropes, and long pants and long sleeves for all the poison oak that you will pass by on the way to the falls.
To Get There: From Interstate , exit at Highway 79 ( the Descanso exit) and drive north. After 1.3 miles turn left on Riverside Drive. Continue 0.6 miles to the main crossroads (post office, etc.) of the hamlet of Descanso. From there take Oak Grove Drive 1.6 miles to the intersection of Boulder Creek Road on the right. Follow Boulder Creek Road north for 13.0 miles (the first half is paved and the rest is dirt) to a hairpin turn where unpaved Cedar Creek Road joins from the west. Park there, at the 3 Sisters waterfalls Hike Trailhead taking care not to block traffic, and post an Adventure Pass on your car. (This hairpin turn and intersection can also be reached, more circuitously by way of Engineers Road or Pine Hills Road to the north.)
This trail starts out at the same trail head as for Eagle Peak, so if you see other hikers there that look like they have some rock climbing gear that’s probably where they are heading to. After you take a look at the menagerie of warning signs at the trail head out down the trail past the cool shade under some remaining oak trees to the trail junction about 2/3 of a mile. At the junction if you keep heading straight you will head towards Eagle Peak, turn left on the trail and head down the hill, you should see the 3 Sisters Waterfalls off in the distance. After about another 1/2 mile or so you should reach the shade of a nice grove of oak trees , enjoy it while you can because at 1.5 miles the real work begins. That’s the point at which you should reach the first and hardest rope climb. The level of difficulty really depends on your hiking experience level and your fitness levels, I don’t find this level particularly hard, but other hikers with me found this to be very intimidating. As you reach the valley floor you will reach your 2nd rope climb, this one is much easier, you can even use the roots of the tree next to the rope. Once you reach the valley floor follow the trails, there seems to be two main trails one on the left side of the creek and one on the right side of the creek, the left side tends to be much easier. Your going to do a fair amount of rock and boulder hoping as you make your way up towards the falls, be on the lookout for poison oak as you do. Eventually you will reach the bottom of the falls, soak in the site and if you want to see more head up the left side of the falls towards the middle pond and walk over the rocks to the opposite side to head up the right side of the middle falls, watch out for loose rocks around this area, as I was descending a couple of large rocks I hadn’t even gotten close to came loose and rocketed past me, one the size of a volley ball pounded into the side of my knee. At the top of the middle falls is another great pond that a lot of people like to wade in and douse themselves underneath the top waterfall. If you want a little more adventure head up the rocks and across the top waterfalls to get a great view all the way back the way you came. If you decide to keep following the creek you should eventually reach the “Devils Punchbowl”, but it is on private land. When you are all finished with your fun the real work begins, climbing back up out of the valley, remember the two ropes you came down and trail leading down into the valley that you where on in the cool temperatures of the morning, guess what you have a hot, long, and steep trip back to the top, I hope you brought a lot of water, but its worth it.
Weather forecast for the 3 Sisters Waterfalls Hike:
Today Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday