About Heart Rock Falls (Seeley Creek Falls)
Heart Rock Falls (more formally known as Seeley Creek Falls) was known not so much for its tiny 25-30ft waterfall but its nearly perfect heart-shaped depression right next to it.
It was one of those features that made us marvel at it because of how such a seemingly man-made shape could exist amidst the chaos and randomness of Mother Nature.
For that, this was definitely one of the more unique waterfall experiences we’ve had.
We even felt it was memorable enough for us to include it at one point on our Top 10 Best Southern California Waterfalls List!
I suspected that this heart-shaped depression might have been the result of a pair of whirlpools or vortices that forcefully drilled into the bedrock when fast-moving or turbulent water might have rushed through at some point in its history.
Locals Only Spot?
The first couple of times we’ve visited this waterfall back in late March 2005 and then Easter Sunday 2010, there seemed to be a lack of signage.
This made us think that Heart Rock Falls was really more of a locals’ waterfall, or at least it was known to those who stay at the nearby (private) Camp Seeley or the village of the Valley of Enchantment.
This was further corroborated by the observation that there weren’t many people around (at least certainly nowhere near the numbers seen at the more known waterfalls in the Southland like Eaton Canyon Falls).
Even on a more recent visit in May 2017, we showed up to this waterfall right at high noon on a Saturday, and although there were dozens of people, it still didn’t feel like there was a big crush.
Of course, now that I’ve said that, when we made an even more recent visit on Valentines weekend in 2020, we’ve encountered many more people and large groups both on the hike and around the Heart Rock Falls.
We even noticed more signage pointing the way to the trailhead parking, which was probably indicative of how this place was probably no longer a locals only spot.
Changes to the Heart Rock Falls Access
Getting to the Heart Rock Falls will probably require a bit of driving (since I’d imagine most visitors to this website don’t live in or near Crestline or other mountain communities in the San Bernardino Mountains).
We probably spent a little more time driving than the actual time on the trail itself, which we’ll get into in the directions below.
Anyways, there were actually multiple ways to do the hike to the Heart Rock Falls.
A lot of that was a result of the circumstances behind the trail access at the time of our visits over the years.
For example, the first couple of times that we did this hike way back in 2005 and 2010, we started on a trail that began near a sewage pipe cover in an open lot across the creek from Camp Seeley.
Then, when we did this hike in 2017, we were able to drive to a small clearing blocked by a gate.
From that gate, we hiked on a trail (the same trail that left from the sewage pipe further up the access road) that followed along Seeley Creek to the Heart Rock Falls.
However, when we did this hike in early 2020, the gate by the entrance to Camp Seeley was closed.
Therefore, we had to hike further along the access road going past Camp Seeley to get to the waterfall.
So to keep things simple, we’ll describe the trail experience as if we started the hike from the Camp Seeley sign by the turnoff leaving the Hwy 138.
This makes the overall hike about 2 miles round trip.
In the past, the hike was as little as 1.2 miles round trip when they used to let us park along the narrow access road shortly past Camp Seeley.
Heart Rock Falls Trail Description – hiking the road between Camp Seeley and the Old Parking Area
Starting from the Camp Seeley sign right by the turnoff leaving the Hwy 138, we kept left to follow the paved road towards a ford.
Usually, rocks are organized on the sides of the road so we could keep our feet dry on this ford.
However, with Gore-tex boots, we usually had no trouble walking right through the ford without getting our feet wet.
Just beyond the ford, the road meandered beneath some power poles.
Shortly thereafter, we reached the aforementioned sewer hole cover (where we started hiking along the creek back in 2005 and 2010).
That said, we saw private property signs fronting the creekside trail skirting Camp Seeley so I’d imagine that we aren’t supposed to hike the old trail anymore.
Therefore, we continued along the road as it twisted uphill then mostly downhill towards a clearing backed by another gate (roughly 0.3 miles from the gate by the Camp Seeley entrance).
This clearing was the old parking area where there was a trash can as well as a 4W07 sign next to it.
From here, we had a choice of continuing our hike along the road or leaving the road to hike the creek alongside Seeley Creek.
This choice can be extended to the return hike so we could hike the road first, then the creekside trail on the return, or vice versa.
Moreover, we could choose to stick with the road in both directions or stick with the trail in both directions.
The bottom line is that you have choices on how you want to do this hike.
Heart Rock Falls Trail Description – the road beyond the Old Parking Lot to the falls
The road continued generally in a downhill trajectory, which meant that we’d have to hike uphill if we took this road back on the return hike.
Given the paved nature of this road, the hike remained very easy, but we had to pay careful attention to when we had to leave it to descend right to the Heart Rock Falls.
That departure point occurred at about the half-mile point from the old parking area.
Fortunately, we noticed a sign that pointed down a steep dirt path that led down to a more conventional foot trail right by Seeley Creek.
Once we encountered the creekside trail, it turned out that we were already above a rocky bluff with a view towards the Heart Rock Falls and the adjacent heart-shaped depression that gave this waterfall its name.
However, because there wasn’t a sign indicating where the waterfall was, we had to listen carefully for falling water as it was real easy to miss.
Finally, if you’re curious about where the paved road ultimately went, it ultimately continued in a gently downhill direction for another 0.3 miles before reaching the Seeley Creek Waste Treatment Plant.
I don’t have any further info about what this plant does, but I speculate that it treats the sewage that might have come from Camp Seeley and perhaps the Valley of Enchantment area.
Nevertheless, the public is not allowed to trespass into the plant.
So there really isn’t a reason to continue walking the road beyond the sign getting you to leave the road to get to Heart Rock Falls.
Heart Rock Falls Trail Description – the trail along Seeley Creek between the Old Parking Lot and the falls
So leaving the road at the old parking area and trailhead (by the 4W07 sign and trash can), a trail descends towards a foot trail alongside Seeley Creek.
Going to our left to head downstream on the pretty well-used trail right at the outer reaches of Camp Seeley’s property, the actual trail began in earnest.
As we meandered about on the creek-side trail, we noticed that tall pine trees towered over us.
We also noticed that we continued to follow Seeley Creek downstream, which meant that we were on an upside down hike.
While the elevation loss was hardly noticeable, we knew that on the return hike, we knew that we would notice the elevation gain a bit more.
In addition, we noticed a few stretches where thick sewer lines were also following both the trail and Seeley Creek.
Anyways, the trail would continue to skirt alongside Seeley Creek while narrowing as it hugged the slope of the ravine flanking the watercourse.
This made the hiking a little more challenging compared to hiking the road.
But eventually after about 0.6 miles of pursuing this trail, we’d eventually reach a rocky area within earshot of the falling water coming from Heart Rock Falls.
Heart Rock Falls Trail Description – paying attention to the falls
On our first trip to the falls, we thought it was pretty easy to miss the spur “trail” or scramble to the rocky ledge overlooking both the heart-shaped depression and the Seeley Creek Falls.
This was especially the case if no one else was around to provide a hint as to where to go.
The only other hint that there was something down there was by the loudness of the rushing waters of Seeley Creek itself.
Julie and my Mom once accidentally missed the spur trail and kept going before the trail ended up joining with some road (and missed the falls altogether until they backtracked).
Anyways, at the overlook ledge itself, we definitely had to exercise caution because of how narrow the ledge was as well as high up the dropoffs were.
We could easily envision how someone could take a real nasty (perhaps fatal) spill into the little basin right at the plunge pool of the falls down below us.
It was for this reason that you might notice in some of the photos on this page were composed in such a way that the Heart Rock Falls tended to hug the cliff on the right.
That said, I did find a lower spot where I was able to get a good look at both the Heart Rock Falls and the heart-shaped depression.
Again, I have to reiterate that I had to exercise a lot of caution to avoid a misstep into a potentially fatal fall.
Heart Rock Falls Trail Description – scrambling around the falls
In addition to the ledge view, there was a fairly easy path that continued from the ledge area towards the plunge pool at the base of the Heart Rock Falls itself.
Somehow we didn’t notice this option the very first time we hiked here back in 2005.
Anyways, the last few times we were here, we did find the way to get down to the bottom of the gorge and right in front of the base of Heart Rock Falls, where we could interact with the water.
Anyways, this lower view of the Heart Rock Falls provided us with a different perspective as it was nestled between polished granite rock cliffs (hinting at the geology responsible for this waterfall).
We couldn’t see the heart-shaped depression from here, but it was definitely a more relaxing spot (as opposed to the narrow ledge above) to enjoy the falls before making the return to the car.
Finally, we did see some people scramble right up to the heart-shaped depression, but it was definitely with some risk involved.
After all, the granite had been worn smooth so the risk of a slip and fall would be much greater when wet given the pitch of the slopes involved.
As much as I wanted to try to scramble to the heart-shaped depression, I ultimately erred on the side of caution so I’ve never made it there.
That said, you’ll see in the photo above (and in the gallery below) that there were quite a few other people with a greater risk tolerance who did figure it out.
Heart Rock Falls resides in the San Bernardino National Forest near Crestline in San Bernardino County, California. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website or Facebook page.
Along this freeway, we’d go well east of the I-15 before getting off at North Waterman Ave (Hwy 18), which was about 3/4-mile east of the junction between the 215 and 210 Freeways.
Once on Hwy 18, we’d head north towards Crestline as Hwy 18 headed into the mountains.
Note the relatively fast speed limit and four-lane highway despite the curviness of the road is due to the fact that this is a thoroughfare for Crestline, Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear Lake, and other mountain communities.
As the road climbed up to over 3,000ft or 4,000ft, we had to pay attention to the junction of Hwy 18 and 138 just past an overhead bridge.
It can get confusing here so we had to take our time and keep right on the slow lane.
Then, we’d take the exit on the right for Hwy 138 (the thoroughfare continues on as Hwy 18 if we happened to miss this exit).
Next, we’d continue driving north on Hwy 138 for roughly 2.5 miles as we went through the western outskirts of Crestline as well as through the community of the Valley of Enchantment.
Just north of the town, there’ll be a well-signed entrance on the left for Camp Seeley.
In the past, we used to be able to drive this road to the left of the private parking lot for Camp Seeley.
It would ultimately take us down a narrow road going over a concrete ford over Seeley Creek towards a parking area blocked by another gate.
However, in recent years, the gate fronting the concrete ford was locked and closed so we had to park in the clearing or the shoulders alongside Hwy 138 right around the Camp Seeley turnoff.
So this was where we would start the two-mile hike to Heart Rock Falls, but if we were able to park at the clearing beyond both the ford and Camp Seeley, then the hike would reduce to about 1.2 miles round trip.
Overall, it took us about 75-90 minutes to make this drive without traffic, but this could easily take around 2 hours with traffic.
An Alternate Route via Silverwood Lake
Alternatively, the first time Julie and I went here in 2005, we took the I-15 north (from Ontario) exiting at the Hwy 138.
Then, we turned right in the direction of Silverwood Lake (note that turning left here would have led us to Mountain High Ski Resort).
We followed the 138 all the way to the Camp Seeley entrance which would now be on the right just before the town of Valley of Enchantment.
If we wound up driving into the Valley of Enchantment, then that means we had missed the Camp Seeley turnoff.
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