If you haven’t discovered meetup.com yet, I can highly recommend it. If there is something you want to do but you’re not doing it, I can pretty much guarantee you that there are other people just like you, and you can meet them on meetup.com.
One of the photograph groups that I’m a member of introduced me to a year-round waterfall on Copper Creek. Year-round waterfalls in San Diego County either are rare or are very difficult to get to. The one on Copper Creek is easy to get to. The trail out and back is 2.7 miles but they are an easy 2.7 miles with virtually no elevation gain on a well-used path, provided that you take the Copper Creek Falls Trail. There are 12 named trails in San Elijo Hills, some going over steep mountains. See the trails here: San Elijo Hills Hiking Trails
There is parking at coordinates 33.093945, -117.204883. Enter those into Google Maps and you’ll be on your way.
The entrance I took after parking goes by a dead sewage treatment plant:
On the way to the falls, you’ll see the creek, ponds, mini-falls, cute little bridges, and flowers.
My research indicates that this area was copper and silver mines from around 1857 into the early 1900s. There are remnants of the mines and operation structures throughout the area. The waters behind the small dam is said to be where ore would be cleaned before transport.
I always find structural ruins to be of interest, and I was not disappointed at Copper Creek Falls.
Copper Creek’s water comes from the Escondido Creek Watershed, which begins in Bear Valley above Lake Wohlford. The creek flows through a series of man-made ponds, part of the mining efforts, all the way to San Elijo Lajoon.
The Copper Creek Falls Trails takes you through a grove of Eucalyptus trees which apparently were planted for firewood during the mining days.
There were three vertical mining shafts over 300 feet long and one horizontal shaft over 200 feet long but those shafts were blasted in decades ago for safety.
Fellow photographer sitting on the largest part of the dam