Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
Heart Rock Falls
- Location: San Bernardino National Forest north of Crestline. From the 210 freeway, take the Waterman Ave/route 18 exit and go north for 11.3 miles. Take the “Crestline Cut-Off” (highway 138) and go north for a total of 2.7 miles. The road hits a few junctions so make sure you stay on highway 138, through Crestline and the Valley of Enchantment. Take a left at the sign for Camp Seeley, pass by the main camp buildings, cross a stream and park in a small dirt lot on the right side of the road, across from the camp playground. The trail begins on the left side of the lot. You can also park at another trailhead farther up the road.
- Agency: San Bernardino National Forest/Arrowhead Ranger Station
- Distance: 2 miles
- Elevation gain: 200 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Best season: Year round (Waterfall is best following recent rains)
- USGS topo map: Silverwood Lake; San Bernardino North
- Recommended Guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire
- More information: here; video of the waterfall here
- Rating: 7
It may seem hard to believe, but hidden in the western San Bernardino Mountains near Crestline is a rock with a nearly perfectly shaped heart carved inside. Heart Rock is located in Seeley Creek next to a 20-foot waterfall. The hike is most enjoyable when the waterfall is flowing strongly after recent rains, but it’s a nice, easy place to get away during the summer, and its elevation is low enough that one won’t have to deal with too much snow during the winter. While it’s mountain location is definitely a drive for Los Angeles and Orange County hikers, it’s actually a fair amount closer than Big Bear and Arrowhead.
From the parking area, cross the fence and head into the woods on a dirt road that parallels the creek. The mix of trees you see, including cedars, oaks and pines, may make your forget that you’re only 4,400 feet above sea level. You pass by a various camp buildings, including a swimming pool, and meet up with a trail numbered 4W07. Bear right (left takes you to an alternate trail head) and head into the woods.
After an enjoyable half mile, you come to a somewhat obscure split. The main trail continues downhill, and another trail continues uphill to rejoin the road. Head right, through a narrow gap between two rocks, and carefully descend to the creek (adult supervision required for young hikers). On the way down, you get a nice aerial view of Heart Rock and the waterfall. At the bottom, you can walk out onto the rocks and see the waterfall from below.
As short as this hike is, if you are driving from a distance, you might want to combine it with another one in the area, such as Heap’s Peak Arboretum.