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I took the trail on Sunday and I didn’t see some areas in the pics people took the ones where you drive between the rocks the trails were never that wide and couldn’t find that area and I drove everywhere and didn’t see those spots

backpacking
20 days ago

Don’t count on any water at the bottom of the hike in.

I've done this trail at least a dozen times, mainly due to it passing through BLM territory where some friends and I do some routine target shooting. There's a lot more areas that are now gated/fenced off that weren't a year or two ago but even with the off-limit areas, there's plenty to explore.

First and foremost, you don't need a special rig to get through this trail. I've completed the main trail in a RWD Nissan Xterra, FWD Lexus NX200, AWD Ford Escape, AWD Subaru Outback, 4WD 2017 Ford Expedition, 4WD 2018 F150 Raptor. All stock, no issues. With that said, there are tons of side trails, many of which are deserving of the "hard" label, some of which I've only been able to complete in the Raptor and others that I haven't even attempted because they're too tight for my truck. If you stick to the main trail, anything with half way decent ground clearance will do just fine.

With that said, the roads in many areas are quite narrow with a near vertical drop to what would likely be your death if you aren't paying attention. Traffic flows in both directions and there's only room for 1 vehicle at a time. There are several areas along the trail where you can pull to the side to let another vehicle pass. Make a mental note anytime you pass one because you never know when you'll encounter an oncoming vehicle that may require you to reverse your vehicle back to that spot so you can safely pass each other.

If you're going on a Saturday or Sunday, traffic is light but not what I would call "remote" you'll almost certainly encounter other off-roaders at some point along the trail and possibly a Border Patrol vehicle or two. If they come up behind you just pull over to the side as soon as it's safe for you to do so and let them pass. They know the roads well and drive vehicles that aren't theirs so they typically like to haul ass.

Bring water and some protein bars. The main trail will take about an hour to complete but you can easily be up there all day if you stop to take photos or decide to explore some of the side trails. Most of the side trails will lead to a dead end or link back up with the main trail. Some side trails aren't really side trails but another main trail. If you make a wrong turn you can find yourself heading way down south all the way to the 905 just a few city blocks away from the border. I like to bring my drone with me for the times I want to explore a side trail I haven't been on before. I take the drone up to get a good look at the trail difficulty and see where it goes before committing myself and my vehicle to it.

One last thing... If you enter from Otay Lakes Rd (aka Pio Pico) and exist from Marron Valley Rd and then head north on Campo Rd, you will have to go past a Border Patrol check point. The line is usually pretty short. I've rarely waited longer than 5 minutes, but something to consider. There is no stopping necessary if you're going South on Campo Rd, so some people may opt do the trail in reverse by entering through Marron Valley Rd and exiting Pio Pico.

on Big Laguna Trail

1 month ago

If you want to smell pines, this is it!

Started out at the entrance by Campsite and headed to the other end of sunrise highway.

You can pick up more trails to add elevation and mileage to make this “moderate”. You are above 5000ft above sea level - very temperate weather.

Make sure to download maps - cell signal is non-existent.

backpacking
1 month ago

This review is more about car accessibility, dogs, water availability, and insects (especially bees).

Went on a little backpacking trip from 6/23-6/25/18. It was 80-85 degrees during the day and full sun. I brought my two very fluffy dogs with me and went 3 miles down the hill to the creek. I left the main trail and followed the trail to the left (south, downstream) one mile. One mile downstream there is a large oak perfect for climbing and very shady to set up multiple tents. And alright yes a campfire ring, but please DO NOT start a fire! Also there is a stone dam and tower and small sandy beaches to enjoy. To get there go just beyond the campsite, up and over the rocks. At the top is a lone cactus, at that point head down and walk along the creek to avoid the very steep hill down directly to the dam and tower. I saw 3 hikers total on my entire trip so a very secluded trail!!

There is minimal shade along the first 3 miles till you hit the creek. It is best to complete this portion of the hike before 930-10a. The shade is optimal then as the hill is basically west facing. The first mile or so has partial shade at least every 0.1 miles, then no shade for 1 mile, then spotty shade till the creek. It is gently sloping downhill, but nothing strenuous at all even on the way up. Took me two hours to do the 4 miles to the campsite and just under 2.5 hours back to the car. I did stop whenever the dogs wanted to and for however long they wanted. Walked at a very average pace.

Water- No water until one mile downstream (4 miles total). Currently there are several pools of water varying from 20 feet in length to only a few; they are up to 4 feet deep and are not flowing. Please be conservative and conscientious when using water to avoid washing any sunscreen, bug spray, and dish water into the pools. It is also very easy to mistakenly scoop up tadpoles, frog eggs, and fish! Critters of every size and class are trying to make it in and around there!

Car accessibility- I have a 2005 Hyundai Accent so low clearance and very compact. I did not find the road leading to the trail head to be very bad at all! Took me 50 minutes to go up and down since due to my vehicle I have to be very careful and thoughtful about how I drive up there. Definitely having a narrow car that allows me to use the whole road to avoid bad areas was very helpful and a wider car with similar clearance may have more problems.

Dogs (previous ER/ICU vet nurse here)- Do not attempt this hike if it is above 85 degrees with your dog especially between 10a-2p!! Bring bare minimum 1 liter of water just for each dog (just for this 3 mile portion) and let them have a good rest in every bit of shade and free choice water at all times. After heat, your next biggest enemy is foxtails!! Right now it is peak season and the meadow the oak tree campsite is in is filled with them! Check frequently especially deep in the toes. Dogs have died from going septic from them embedding themselves. They will creep up into the eyes, ears, nose, prepubis, everywhere!! I spent at least 6 hours removing them total. Did pick off a few mostly dog ticks (not a large prevalence of tick borne dz in SoCal), they have 2 month (out of 3 month) old Scalibor collars but they go in the water a lot.

Insects- Yes expect a constant buzz. Once a swarm finds you walking along the creek, you've got new friends. They were tolerable, but certainly disrupt mediation. The mosquitoes are not too bad just annoying flies. Far from ruined the trip for me! I found Honest brand bug spray (mostly essential oils) worked fairly well but needed frequent application. If you care about bees as I do, due to a severe allergy, then its not perfect but it could be worse. I attract bees like crazy! So I still had a few stalkers, but no stings. Wildflowers are currently in bloom the first 0.5 miles and then along the creek where there is water. The ones along the creek seemed basically too pre-occupied to pay me attention. A few got a little interested, but not for long. I felt comfortable knocking into the flowers that crossed the path even if bees were busy working on the bush. The ones to be worried about are the swarms on the little white poms in the first 0.5 mile of the trail. There are just so many bees and I believe close to a hive that they are more protective and I had quite the stalker for a while that made me nervous (...and forget my hiking poles in the car!).

Things I was glad I brought or wished I had:
- Bug spray
- Visor > sunglasses
- Sunscreen
- Chapstick
- Hiking poles- lots of loose gravel and small rocks on the trail that poles help balance and stabilize you
- Comb to help remove foxtails from dogs
- Way to clean water

Things you don't need:
- sleeping pad- quite comfy on the bed of oak leaves, not worth the weight

Had a glorious 5.5 hr. Jeep trek from Pio Pico to Campo Rd. (94), well almost. The gate at 94 was locked and only through satellite photos did I find a route out, apparently through private property. As I was exiting onto 94 a CPG agent stopped me to advise that he was coming to open the gate and that I was indeed on private property. I assure him my intention was not to trespass as during the 5.5 hours I saw at least 5 agents a various stages, did not encounter any locked gates, and did not drive past or ignore any advisory signage indicating off limit areas. This is the first time I have done this route and planned it based on the route indicated from AllTrails. He indicated that the gates I passed through should be locked or closed as various parts of the trails pass through private lands etc., or are not supposed to be travelled on by the public. He was frustrated, not with me, but the fact I had such easy access. I wish there was some sort of official advisory and clearly noted routes that off-road enthusiasts could adhere to. Most of us do not want to trespass on private land and want to use the resource respectfully. My next trek, I will stop and ask each agent I encounter if I can be on that stretch of road and indicate where I am going. I will ask their name and give them mine so they can radio ahead that traffic is approaching, What else can we do, Im sure they don't want to play tour guide, but we just want to be able to get in and out without concern about being locked in or out of entries or exits. The agent did indicate I could have been accidently locked in at some point along the way....good thing I carry basic camping gear, food and water. This trail can be difficult at times and I do not recommend 2 wheel vehicles with insufficient clearance, as at times, it is not a Sunday drive in the best of conditions.

backpacking
2 months ago

I just returned from my first backpacking trip and Barker Valley was the perfect choice. I received the recommendation from a friend and it did not disappoint.

Some notes: There was still a couple of feet of water left in the stream. It was hot during the day (95 degrees on the hike back up the 1,000 ft incline) and surprisingly cold at night. The bugs were pretty bad; make sure you bring a citronella candle for camp.

I did this overnight trip alone and the most striking thing about Barker Valley was how away-from-it-all it was. I didn't realize there were places so secluded left in San Diego County; no cell reception and there was no one else out there. It was exactly what I wanted in a backpacking trip.

The best part was seeing the Milky Way in all its glory; I haven't seen it in years.

The road is open as of writing this, we spent two nights on this trail over Memorial Day Weekend. Wonderful trail with incredible views. Some key notes:

Water: The stream has plenty of water to filter.

Fire: Camping stoves only at this point.

Bugs: Experience a few no-see-ums in the shade, but nothing drastic or unbearable, and we didn't have spray.

Fishing: Not sure why All Trails says you can fish it, there are no fish in this stream.

Make sure to get a pass from the Forest Service, it's free and very very easy.

Full review is here and directions on how to plan: https://www.arborcreekoutfitters.com/single-post/2018/05/30/Barker-Valley-Spur-Trail---Cleveland-National-Forest

hiking
2 months ago

The trailhead didnt have any markings or any post so were a little confused. Until the point where we you have to climb the little mountain the hike is moderate with beautiful views. However the trail is bulldozed making the terrain a little difficult to walk. The best part is the last section where you have to fo a little climbing and then climb up to the cave using ropes. Awesome views from the top. Very wind at the top.

hiking
3 months ago

Really beautiful hike! Definitely on the harder side. But, for those (like myself), who are scared of heights - the cave can be sketchy to go in and out of.

Late post, hiked Otay Truck from Pio Pico campground to the antenna towers on Saturday, 04/28/2018.. Disappointed there was no Peak Log or Geological Benchmarks, but overall good steady uphill trek to the peak! Accumulated 13.05 RT mileage and a whopping 3,135 ft. elevation gains!

this definitely wasn't easy but doable. gradual elevation gain over long distance. good trail running conditions. great views

Good fun, nice family hike. Nothing too crazy

Alert: this trail has been recently bulldozed. All the way up to the look out point.
First part has been leveled out a bit however all the way up now has little up and down hills. Seems like they might be trying to make rain/water run offs - maybe grade it a bit better. Because of this, all the beautiful rocks are no longer visible. Makes it for a less enjoyable hike but still beautiful views over the mountains. Ground and rocks are loose.

I did this trail on 04-28-18 in my relatively stock baja bug with no problems. Easy to navigate, and It has great spots to pull over for pictures!

Fun drive, not to challenging

3 months ago

Amazing mountain. Love it!

Beautiful views in all directions

mountain biking
4 months ago

Had a blast, generally the trails were easy however there are moderate to difficult trails off the main loop. keep in mind this trail is in Cleveland National Park several thousand feet above sea level. there's a $5 entry fee (honor system) to enter the park and general parking is not well marked. the trail head sits at the center of a camp ground so I sort of made my own parking spot.

The road was open on 4/7/18. Lovely hike down. Plenty of water in the creek. Great camping with no bug issues. The last steep descent to get to the first pool below the little dam seemed too scary at first, but after getting to the little beach by crossing above the dam and fighting through the brush, I found I could climb up the steep section, and so we went back that way. Then we spent a wonderful afternoon down among the cascades. We swam across the big pool next to the little beach down there (not the beach by the dam), and then waded to the drop off and looked down! Cool. I had climbed up the ridge to the right of the dropoff to see if there was a way down and around, but didn't see anything likely. Took us 4 hours to hike out after an active day. My girlfriend's first backpack trip. A success!

hiking
4 months ago

Great trail, great views

hiking
4 months ago

Been wanting to do this one for awhile now, finally got to it! Reviews below are very accurate: the washed out dirt road is a monotonous pain in the ass, albeit a good workout, all the way to the base of the summit. It does indeed get fun, scenic, and challenging as you make your way from the road junction up to the summit. The boulder climbs are rad, the summit is really cool and rewarding. The climb up to/down from the cave that leads to the summit is super sketchy. It actually kind of scared the shit out of me! Definitely be skilled in climbing and go with a friend. A slip and tumble in that particular spot could be catastrophic. I think there's an alternate route to the summit, I'll definitely be looking for it next time. Definitely still go do this hike though, it's a must.

Great trail with great views. A little narrow and steep at the beginning from Jamul side but nothin too crazy. Highly recommend!

hiking
4 months ago

This was very fun hike to do. The last quarter mile to get to the top is where the fun starts. You have to climb rocks/jump and walk into narrow spaces to get to the top. The views are amazing!! This hike is a must.

mountain biking
5 months ago

Done in March with not many people, not too hard mostly flat but beautiful, nice easy ride on single track.

hiking
5 months ago

An excellent hike for any skill level. I loved the different foliage all around. There are also several geocaches in the area which is fun if you're into that sort of thing.

Well maintained not challenging at all except the exit prison side gate was locked but 20 yards down had a mini climb out onto Alta road. Great views saw one border patrol truck on a random view point. Dirt bikers, hikers, an other off-roaders. If your in San Diego and wana get off-road but do not worry bout anything. Also had cell service the whole time. Check it out

5 months ago

I love this hike. The first part isn't actually that interesting, to me, but once you get to the top portion and start climbing up rocks it's really, really fun. And the cave is amazing! The second time I went I took a friend and he did not like the cave part, it made him claustrophobic and the wind was mighty that day so it may not be enjoyable to all (but try it for yourself!). I recommend this hike for sure. Also I got lost on the way and had no reception so take some screen shots of your directions.

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