Off-Trail Hiking Banned at Big Falls in San Bernardino National Forest Starting July 4

Crews rescue a hiker who fell at Big Falls on June 4, 2016, in an image tweeted by the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

Crews rescue a hiker who fell at Big Falls on June 4, 2016, in an image tweeted by the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

Areas beyond the marked trail at Big Falls in San Bernardino National Forest will be off-limits to hikers starting on Thursday, officials announced Wednesday.

Visitors must stay at least 150 feet away from Falls Creek and the waterfalls, among the tallest in Southern California, according to a news release from the National Forest.

Hikers are still free to use the Big Falls Trail to get to the waterfall overlook, as long as they don’t venture beyond the railing.

The move is meant to increase public safety in light of the large number of people hurt there in the past, said Joe Rechsteiner, a district ranger.

“There have been too many search and rescues in this area in the past,” Rechsteiner said in a statement. “We want to make sure the public enjoys this beautiful spot while staying safe. Some of rocks in Falls Creek are deceivingly slippery.”

The top of the falls was closed to the public for two years beginning October 2015 after authorities rescued at least 57 people who injured themselves there, the San Bernardino Sun reported.

Rescue operations can be so frequent that one particular rock is known to locals as “Blood Rock.” Several people have slipped on it, tumbled down the middle fall and had to be hoisted by helicopter, officials said.

Anyone who goes in the forbidden area could face a fine of up to $5,000, or as much as six months in prison, or both.

The closure is expected to last through May 24, 2020.

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