A buddy and me did an overnight. We went counterclockwise starting on Dripping Springs and coming down Wild Horse.
Dripping Springs starts steep almost immediately. It's not the steepest I've done but it's pretty good. You start to see Vail Lake as you climb with snow-capped mountains behind. Pretty spectacular views if you ask me. Careful though, if you don't like switchbacks this way won't be for you.
We lost sight of Vail Lake as we headed further south around a hill or two. Eventually the trail got seriously narrow and overgrown. There were some trees downed and low-lying brush. I'm pretty tall so branches to the face were commonplace. At one point, there was so much debris and downed trees covering the trail we weren't sure if we were still going in the right direction. To go with the trees and debris there was frost and sludge on the trail which led to some interesting foot placement.
Eventually we got to the halfway point which had a sign saying Cacta Trail. Don't go this way if you're doing the loop. Head towards Wild Horse.
We found a spot overlooking what we figured to be San Diego. As the sun went down the stars came out and we set-up camp. It was an amazing view with lights from the city and the stars above. Sleep was fitful due to the cold wind but it eventually came.
We woke early and got the camp taken down and all packed up. We headed out at first light down Wild Horse.
This trail was infinitely better than Dripping Springs...at first. It started nice and easy with leave cushioning every footfall. The trail was wide with tons of birds fluttering about. We made great time as we traversed this section. To come, however, was a much harder trail. The trail narrowed and became very rocky and full of gravel. We had to make sure to watch our step so as to not roll our ankles. More switchbacks and constant up and downs. It didn't seem like it would end until finally we hit the end.
I gave it four stars for the simple fact that it doesn't have a true "summit." It has some pretty awesome views but nothing too spectacular.
I went out with three friends on an early, drizzly Sunday morning for an inaugural counterclockwise run on this trail loop. Although the temperatures never reached 50 degrees, the constant effort kept us all sufficiently warm, except for the middle portion of the loop where we were up in the clouds and in near-constant contact with wet undergrowth. Water consumption, on the other hand, was WAY less than others experienced on sunny days!
It was a plenty challenging run that lived up to the "hard" classification, but the numerous scenic (mostly) foggy vistas and the company of friends made it all worthwhile.
Did it as the second half of the Agua Tibia loop with an Eagle Crag summit. This trail is second only to Dripping Springs for views and fun in San Diego. Can't say enough about how fun this is. The oak grove portion is amazing. Tough trail too, so bring some water.
Did this as a backpacking trip with Amelia. Up the Dripping Springs side and to a small camp site past the cutoff to Eagle Crag's summit. This trail may have the best views in SD. Eagle Crag's summit is spectacular. Beware that the Palomar Mcgee trail are quite overgrown and definitely a cross country route. No water on this trail either so be prepared.