Just north of San Diego State University, the runoff shed by some 15 square miles of chaparral-covered hillsides and suburban streets placidly crosses under ten lanes of Interstate 8 west of College Avenue. Then it tumbles, virtually unseen by anyone today, through a narrow little gorge, forming the series of cascades known as Adobe Falls.
Decades ago, when San Diego State lay isolated at the city’s eastern fringe and I-8 was but a gleam in some civil engineer’s eye, students and professors trekked down to this formerly idyllic site for picnics. Today the runoff from winter storms still rushes head-long over bedrock slabs and boulders beneath a pleasing array of willows, sycamores, and volunteer palms — but lurid graffiti on the rocks, flotsam-and-jetsam trash along the banks, suds floating on the quiet pools, and the rank odor of a nearby sewer pipeline do not serve to inspire the curious traveler.
Nonetheless, for those with insatiable curiosity, the following directions are offered: Exit I-8 at College Avenue and go north to the traffic light at Del Cerro Boulevard. Turn left (west), continue 0.4 mile, and turn left on Rockhurst Drive. Rockhurst becomes Genoa Drive and starts descending. At the end of Genoa, turn right on the dead-end Mill Peak Road and descend, passing a horrendous open wound on the hillside above (now being stabilized by much earth-moving activity) and a couple of slide-damaged homes. Continue downhill to the end of the cul-de-sac, and park along the curb nearby. On foot, take the wide dirt path signed “off-road vehicle activity prohibited.” Cross the creek, veer left, and begin the short climb to the falls area. If soaking winter rains have recently fallen, expect to accumulate a couple of pounds of sticky adobe soil on the soles of your shoes. When you reach the falls, watch your step — all rocks, even rough-textured ones, are slippery when wet.
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