Located within the Rancho La Costa Habitat Conservation Area, Copper Creek Trail via Whiptail Trail is a 3-mile hike that features a seasonal waterfall and wildflowers. Unlike the nearby Cedar Creek Falls and Three Sisters Falls, Copper Creek Falls is relatively easy to get to and family friendly. For optimal views of the waterfall, visit a day or two after heavy rainfall.
The trail begins behind an old San Diego County waste facility. Follow the dirt path through the grove of eucalyptus trees and up the hill. Although the incline is steep and rugged, the panoramic view that gradually emerges makes up for it. This section of the trail is dominated by dense chaparral, including sage and California buckwheat. After descending the hill via a series of switchbacks, veer left at the intersection. The waterfall may be seen from the trail, however, a bit of scrambling is required to get closer. Keep an eye out for the dispersed remnants of an old mine nearby. During WWI the Encinitas Mining Company was one of the largest copper mines in the area, yet only a few crumbling ruins remain today. Continue past the waterfall and mine on a mostly level trail that follows Copper Creek and loops back to the trailhead.