Three Sisters

Julian locals love this place. As the name implies, there are three falls, each one a big, smooth granite bowl. They are, in every sense, swimming holes that stand out. At one point on the approach, after crossing a low saddle, you suddenly get a full frontal view of the falls filling the head of a steep canyon. The three falls are between 40 and 50 feet tall. The middle hole is around 60 feet wide, 10 feet deep with ample granite slabs to relax on. The uppermost is the trophy hole—the “hog hole.” To reach it, scramble left around the second falls and you’ll be able to drop into the upper bowl. It’s a big ol’ tank of water with a 25-foot rock face on the right side which has launched generations of splash rangers. Summer afternoons are long. You can get some relief from the sun in the cottonwoods below the lowest bowl, but there are few comfortable rocks among the trees as compared with the comfortable though sun-stunned slabs surrounding the upper bowls.

Turbidity is about the only bad thing there is to say about this hole. When I visited in mid April, Boulder Creek had poor visibility. It may have been the result of a recent forest fire or it may be due to the fact that it carries discharge from Cuyamaca Reservoir. Late summer and early fall may be bad times to visit as the flow from the Cuyamaca Reservoir is generally reduced. And watch for poison oak. It flourishes along the Boulder Creek.

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