Hiker Rescued Near Three Sisters Falls, a Notoriously Dangerous Trail

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Cal Fire and the Sheriff’s Department responded to a hiker in distress near Three Sisters Falls Sunday, according to Cal Fire.

“When you read about something, it looks simple,” said Cal Fire Captain Isaac Sanchez. “It doesn’t look like it’s far but it’s an incredibly arduous trip.”

One of the Sheriff’s helicopters responded to the scene. Paramedics evaluated and released the hiker, said Cal Fire officials. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has released hiking safety videos and warnings reminding the public that Three Sisters Falls is a highly challenging and dangerous trail. In the past, some hikers and pets have died at the site.

Although there has been a heat wave and record hot temperatures in the county’s mountain and desert areas, hikers continue to risk their lives at Three Sisters Falls and Cedar Creek Falls, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

By June 15, the Sheriff’s Department had responded to 51 rescue calls at these hiking trails, with the ASTREA rescue helicopter. Usually, the hikers underestimate the rugged terrain and fail to bring enough water and food.

“People are able to find out about these places a lot easier than they had in the past because of social media. They hear about places like Three Sisters Falls,” said Sanchez. “The only problem is that it doesn’t really get across the message of how tough these hikes actually are, how long they actually take and how much preparedness you need before you even head down,” said Sanchez.

The U.S. Forest Service ranks Three Sisters Falls as a strenuous, full day hike that is recommended only for advanced hikers. Officials recommend hiking in the spring or winter amid cooler temperatures.

“It’s easy at the beginning because it’s all downhill but by the end of the day when you’re ready to come out and it’s the hottest part of the day, you’ve got the most difficult part of the hike ahead of you,” added Sanchez.

U.S. Forest Service officials say the hike is best for those who enjoy extreme hiking, mountain climbing and rock traversing. The hike is described as dangerous and complex, with a number of people and pets dying on the trail.

“We have lost people, they have died,” said Clayton Howe, the division chief and Fire Management Officer for U.S. Forest Service. “We have lost animals, several dogs. It’s very tragic and those people started out for a wonderful day, and their day turned tragic.”

Sanchez explained that the rescue operations are also difficult and dangerous for emergency responders.

He noted, “110 degrees down in the canyon is not a pleasant place to be and it’s not a pleasant place to be conducting an operation.”

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