Three Sisters Falls Hike – A Springtime Reunion

Three Sisters Falls hike

Distance: 4 miles | Hiking time: 3 hours | Difficulty: 7/10 | More trail info.

Last summer a friend and I decided to hike Three Sisters Falls. We chose the absolute worst time of year to make the trek and we were disappointed, but not surprised, to find that the falls were dry. At the time, I was less than impressed with my experience, and that lack of excitement was clearly laid out in my last Three Sisters Falls trail report.

If you haven’t read my earlier trail report for Three Sisters Falls and you’re considering doing this hike during the summer, or when it’s hot, I highly recommend reading it before you visit. But, in case you’re short on time, I’ll go ahead and summarize my experience here:

  • It was dangerously hot
  • The falls were dry
  • The only water on the hike was mucky, green and full of litter
Three Sisters Falls top fall
Three Sisters Falls as it appeared in August. Note the water bottles floating in the water.

So how does a hike during prime Three Sisters Falls season compare to a midsummer off-season hike? Let me tell you.

We started the hike to Three Sisters Falls around 9:00 am on a Tuesday morning after completing a hike to Eagle Peak, which shares the same trailhead. From the trail junction, we began our decent into the valley and towards the creek where we could hear the sound of the falls crashing in the distance.

The trail was in much the same condition as I had experienced in August. Litter was scattered about, with discarded water bottles being the most common form of trash.

Trash is a problem on the trail for two reasons:

First, due to it’s popularity and accessibility, the Three Sisters Falls hike attracts a lot of hikers who are not familiar with basic Leave No Trace principles.

Second, the trail is not maintained and there are no trash cans available anywhere along the hike, from the trailhead on down into the valley. As a result, less considerate visitors are quick to discard their trash along the trail.

Three Sisters Falls hike
Looking toward the most treacherous section of trail from the valley below

The only real difference that I noted on the hike to the falls was that there were a lot more ropes available to aid hikers on their descent into the valley. The trail is very steep, and because it’s not maintained and heavily trafficked, it’s also a little treacherous in places. That was the case when I visited in August, and it was still the case on my recent trip in early April.

Three Sisters Falls hike
One of many clear pools of water below Three Sisters Falls

Once down in the valley, we walked towards the creek where I was pleased to find crystal clear running water flowing over the boulders that were bone dry on my last visit. Sadly, we still found trash at every turn, in the water and on the trail. We also found some graffiti, though it was pretty minimal in comparison to hikes like Adobe Falls or The Mushroom Caves.

As we made our way up the creek, we stopped to take photos of the many smaller falls we found along the way. We worked our way towards the Three Sisters until we arrived at the base of the first fall. It was flowing nicely and the water looked cool and refreshing.

Three Sisters Falls hike
Crystal clear water flowing on some of the smaller falls below Three Sisters Falls

We took a brief break for some photographs before continuing on up to the second, then the first and biggest of the Three Sisters Falls. The water beneath the falls grew clearer and more inviting with each stop, until we reached the large pool beneath the biggest fall. A group of kids were swimming in the pool and confirmed for us that the water was, in fact, really cold!

I wasn’t brave enough to test the waters myself. The thought of runoff, and who knows what all else that may be contaminating the water further upstream, kept me from doing so. Had there been a heavier flow and if the day were a little warmer, I think I may have had a difficult time resisting. But as it was, I was just fine sitting it out and watching others enjoy the cool waters of Three Sisters Falls.

Three Sisters Falls hike
The second of the Three Sisters Falls

Conclusion

In the end, Three Sisters Falls is just as beautiful as I had hoped and imagined it might be with the water flowing. The water levels were relatively low, but there was still plenty of water flowing to keep it fresh and clear. Trash on this hike, unfortunately, continues to be a significant issue. Please do your part to keep the trail clean and the hike enjoyable for everyone by packing out your trash.

Here are some quick tips to keep in mind for your visit to Three Sisters Falls:

  • There are no toilets, trash cans or other facilities anywhere on the trail
  • Wear hiking shoes or trail runners
  • Use caution when navigating the more treacherous parts of the trail
  • Bring plenty of water, at least 2 liters to avoid dehydration
  • Don’t underestimate the difficulty of the hike out
  • And please… PACK OUT YOUR TRASH! The trail is here for all to enjoy.

Photos:


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Robb Keele

Robb Keele

Robb is a native San Diegan and avid hiker, backpacker, picture taker and 52 Hike Challenger. He created Getgo Outdoors with the goal of giving back to the outdoor community and inspiring others to get outdoors.
Robb Keele

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