After being closed for nearly two years, a popular hiking spot near Julian will reopen to the public Friday.
According to officials, Cedar Creek Falls will be accessible to the public once again, but with some new rules in place.
The U.S. Forest Service closed the area back in July 2011 after 16-year-old Joseph Meram died while hiking there with his family. Meram slipped and fell down a steep cliff, landing in the water below.
The U.S. Forest Service closed access to the falls days after the fatal incident in order to provide time to design and implement a new public safety plan that addressed issues of overcrowding and damaging impacts to natural resources.
In April 2012, the area partially reopened, allowing hikers east access into Cedar Creek Falls.
On Friday, west access to the area reopened and new rules were rolled out.
Hikers are now required to pay $6 for a one-day visitor permit. Only 75 permits for individuals or groups or up to five people are available each day by reservation. Hikers can reserve their day pass ahead of time by visiting this website.
Officials say all cliff areas around the falls will remain closed. There is no climbing, jumping or diving allowed anywhere along the cliffs adjacent to or near the falls. Swimming is allowed.
In addition, officials say no alcohol is allowed near Cedar Creek Falls, at the trailheads or along the trails. Campfires are also prohibited.
U.S. Forest Service rangers and sheriff’s deputies plan to strictly enforce the new permit requirements and ban on alcohol and cliff jumping. Those in violation of the rules may be cited, fined or arrested.
Officials want to remind the public that the trail to Cedar Creek Falls is a challenging, 5.5-mile hike with no shade from the sun. The trail is not for beginners, and officials recommend hikers bring at least one gallon of water to stay hydrated.
Also, officials say the trail is not safe for dogs, as the terrain gets very hot and is littered with sharp rocks, making it not easy on the paws.