Friday, April 5, 2013
A popular Cleveland National Forest hiking trail that had been closed to the public since a teenager fell to his death from a cliff in the area two summers ago reopened today under tightened restrictions.
The western access point to Cedar Creek Falls is available by reservation with 75 permits for individual visitors or groups of up to five people available each day at a cost of $6 each, authorities said.
The passes can be obtained online at Recreation.gov, a federal parks website.
Those using the path, which begins off Thornbush Road in Ramona, will be subject to several regulations, including bans on drinking and cliff-diving into pools at the falls. Deputies and forest rangers will actively enforce the rules, according to sheriff's officials.
The rugged 5.5-mile trail had been closed since July 9, 2011, three days after 16-year-old Joseph Meram of El Cajon slipped while walking on a footpath. He plunged from an 80-foot-high precipice over a pond known as the Devil's Punchbowl, fatally striking his head on boulders as he fell.
That spot had long been popular with sightseers and thrill seekers who enjoyed leaping from bluffs into the swimming hole, often during alcohol-fueled youth gatherings.
The eastern entrance to Cedar Creek Falls, off Eagle Peak Road near Julian, reopened last April.