Agua Tibia Full Loop Trail

HARD 19 reviews
#2 of 4 trails in

Agua Tibia Full Loop Trail is a 19.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Temecula, CA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, birding, and backpacking and is accessible year-round.

19.8 miles 4263 feet Loop






wild flowers


Note: It costs $5 to park if you don't have an adventure pass.

trail running
7 days ago

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.

9 days ago

Back again, this time with Amelia, to hit the whole loop and Eagle Crag as a backpacking trip. Highly recommended, although you have to bring a LOT of water. Great views and lots of Mountain Lion tracks on this one.

12 days ago

Great hike! Over 20 miles- you have to cut through the camping area once you park. There is about 4 free parking spaces to the immediate right as you pull in. If you blink you might miss them. It took me about 8.5 hours total with breaks. I started at Dripping Springs trail, counterclockwise route about 6:30am. I used 4-5 liters of water.

Mile 1 - 7. Very steep ascension. This is probably the toughest start to a long hike I've had. I hiked a day after it rained so many cougar prints! No sun in the morning, so be prepared, but you will warm up fast. Great view points throughout this side of the hike. If you are after views and selfies, this is the way to go.

Mile 8 - a great resting point. Assess whether you should go back at this point. Great view of north county San Diego.

Somewhere around the halfway point there is a sign for Cutca trail? I couldn't find anything for this trail on any map. Don't go that way. Follow the wild horse trail parallel to the way you came.

Mile 8 - 14 was great for birding! Tons of tohees, finches, thrashers, jays, hawks, and mountain quail to scare the heck out of you on every corner! A few down trees to maneuvers around. The trail is super wide and super narrow in spots. Lots of contact with brush. Also, a strange fire pit in the middle of the trail??

Mile 14 - 20 by far the toughest part of the hike! Lots of sun and switchbacks!! I had to hook up my back up bladder about a mile in. Make sure you have plenty of water. More down trees and up and down elevation all the way back. Did I mention the switchbacks? Because they never end all the way to the trail head.

I may try hiking clockwise the next time. It seems like it may be easier. Enjoy!!

19 days ago

Hiked the Agua Tibia Wilderness today, just east of Temecula. About 21 miles, nearly 4,000 feet in elevation gain, just over 7 hours. My longest hike yet in terms of distance. Went from desert chaparral, to oak forest, to pine forest. The Coulter Pines had pine cones as big as my head! Went through 4.5 liters of water. Trail was in mostly good shape, but there were some significant sections where you have to bushwhack. A number of sections you have to crawl under or over multiple fallen trees. Was planning on taking the small use trail to agua tibia peak but I must've missed it and didn't want to backtrack. I did the loop clockwise. A good hike!

trail running
22 days ago

3rd November, 2016. Start time: 07:50

My first time on the Agua Tibia Full Loop Trail, which comprises of the Dripping Springs trail, the Palomar McGee trail & the Wild Horse trail.

All together, just over 32 km (around 20 miles) & really an excellent training loop for average to advanced level trail runners preparing for marathon distance..

I set out just before 7am, so was able to cover most of the upward elevation section on Dripping Springs before the sun came up. I suggest anyone intending to do the full loop in under 5 hours, while attempting to restrict weight by carrying less liquid, manages to cover at least 7 miles before sunrise, as a way to cut down on liquid intake. I took two 12 Fl Oz hand-held bottles, which was just enough for my sub 4 hour loop.

All three trails are clearly marked (but don't expect to see any signposts along the trails) & with the exception of the Palomar McGee trail, where you'll need to manoeuvre around a few fallen tree branches (and an odd trunk) as well as dealing with some stretches with "flowing undergrowth", you'll find you can run for the most part of the Agua Tibia Loop trail.

Depending on your running proficiency, I suggest medium to minimalist footwear cushioning. The trails are not particularly technical, so even standard road running shoes with a reasonable grip would be suffice.

Going back to my recommendation about marathon distance training - one of the attractions of this "longish" trail (for southern California area) is that for the first 7-8 miles there's a decent 3000+ foot elevation gain (if you run it in an anti-clockwise direction), which makes it ideal for training sustainable hill climbs, as it never really gets too steep at any single point.

The middle section trail (Palomar McGee) provides a flatter terrain with undulating terrain, until reaching Wild Horse trail. Still only half way there (just under two hours running by now), but the next 4-5 miles are downhill and such easy terrain that you'll find yourself speeding up considerably..don't get too carried away though (I did a bit!), as the final four miles seem to stretch for a lot longer, along a serpentine like trail which twists and winds around several valleys, before eventually returning to the Dripping Springs trail-head once again.

Running shoes: Inov8 Trailroc 245

Final time 3 hours 38 minutes.


5 months ago

12.8 miles is an understatement.....the full loop is 20.1 miles. Brings tons of water! My camelback was empty with 5 miles to go, a pretty uncomfortable feelings. Starting on the right trail it's a tad bit more challenging than the left. But nonetheless, my favorite local hike. Beautiful, scenic, and not too much trail traffic. Took 8.5 hours total.

7 months ago

Great one night backpacking trail. Started up Dripping Springs Trail at noon. Camped at junction of Palomar McGee and Wild Horse Trail w/beautiful views. Went down Wildhorse as sun rose and finished at 11am.

8 months ago

Pretty good trail to train on. The sun is a factor, and it has a decent grade. It's all single track with rocky terrain, so no mountain bikers. I saw a snake on the trail ( harmless) and a raven circled over me on my way back. There were also flowering plants on the trail with some good views towards the top. When you get to the top it intersects with another trail which is another 10 miles I think. If you turn around at that point it will be s 14 mile hike. It costs $5 to park if you don't have an adventure pass, but it's a good trail to train on.

9 months ago

Hiked Agua Tibia Loop in one Day! Full loop Is said to be 20miles not 13; Nevertheless, finished in 7.5 hours. Started on Wild Horse Trail, seems as if starting on Dripping Springs would be harder, not sure though. Recommend it, However, not for The Faint at Heart Hiker.

11 months ago

Very fun walk up a great incline. Great scenery and great fun want to do the whole hike next time only went 6 miles but still very fun

11 months ago

Did the whole Dripping Springs Wild Horse loop including Eagle Crag. Camped out at the summit. Great trail. Hardly saw anyone at all, but did see some cougar tracks towards the summit. Awesome hike with seriously unbelievable views.

1 year ago

Completed the loop today and the heat was intense! Great views and well-maintained trail. Bring plenty of water and start early.

1 year ago

Awesome trail! Nothing too crazy here, just a nice and typical California hike. Gorgeous rolling hills, a bunch of dried up river beds, nice rock formations, and some sick wildlife. It's a longer trail, but nothing to rough for beginner or moderate hikers if they just cut the trip short. SUPER easy to find the trail head, which makes it packed beyond belief on weekends. Bring your essentials, and you'll be solid! Happy Hiking :-)

2 years ago

Was an awesome hike. Me and my wife hiked it in 9.5 hours.

Advice bring lots of water and food, and start early.

3 years ago

One of the tougher hikes I've done. Trail not overly steep, just turned out to be hot (95-100 degrees vice forecast of 76 degrees). Planning to overnight on Aqua Tibia mountain but the bugs were fierce (DEET seemed to have no affect on deer flies) and heat was intense. Brought 7 liters of water but was going through it fast in the heat. Couldn't breathe with your mouth open or you would inhale bugs. Decided to make the loop in one day so as not to run out of water and escape bugs. Made for a long day and a few blisters, but overall awesomely beautiful country. Lots of wild life.

ice climbing
4 years ago

its awesome

4 years ago

Nice trail but a lot of loose rocks. It's almost all up hill, and not a lot of shade. Bring water but it's worth the hike very nice trail!

4 years ago

Very tough trail. When we hiked the loop much of it was over grown and required bushwacking to make it through. Views were amazing and after leaving dripping springs trail we saw no one else. Very few people complete the entire loop.