Explore the most popular walking trails in Cleveland National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

We were very disappointed that there wasn’t any water in the canyon. The hike, albeit short, was very steep for about half a mile and our older Labrador had a tough time getting back up. Only ran into a couple other people all afternoon. If there were water, this hike would be great!

Note: The dirt road that leads to this trail is rough and not suitable for most sedans. Mid to high clearance vehicles are recommended.

This is a beautiful canyon hike with a good amount of shade. It’s pretty busy though, so if you’re not a fan of crowds, come during the week or early on the weekend.

Did the counterclockwise loop, first half is alpine meadows and forest then once you get to the PCT it transitions to desert hills with amazing views of the desert.

hiking
4 days ago

We took about an hour hiking up and what a view!! Well worth the walk. It was a bit rocky once the grade began, but nothing onerous. Take plenty of water!

Can’t believe I’ve never heard of this hike it’s stunning the trail it’s self not worn down and full of nature and the views are amazing I caught a stellar sun set on my way down didn’t even see another person on the trail. Loved it.

backpacking
8 days 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.

Absolutely beautiful hike with views in every direction. Parking is crappy with room for only 5 or so cars so go early. there is tremendous variety of terrain from boulders to forrest overhang. it's definitely the prettiest hike I have done yet. we passed a few people but we were the only ones at the top, I actually cried! bring a lot of water. I have a 1.5l pack and it wasn't enough. I was happy that my husband had a 3l. be super careful if you are on the path in what I have now deemed "snake o'clock". when we turned the corner from behind a boulder there was one that was half in the path. we backed away and went over another boulder to avoid it. we warned everyone that we saw on the way down but there was a deaf couple on the hike heading in when we were heading out....I was scared for them. all in all it was very scenic and definitely challenging even just in the length alone. highly recommend!

DO NOT follow the “getting there” directions (do not turn left down chihuahua or go down any dirt road), just keep following the original road all the way down to the fire station, and park at the information center. Trail is on THE SAME SIDE OF THE ROAD as the fire station on the right hand side when facing the building, NOT the side of the road with the info center and PCT sign. Also keep in mind this route approaches the rock formation from behind, so be on the look out for the trail split once you hit 3.2 miles! Be sure to bring plenty of water, direct sun is a killler for 2/3 of the way there/back.

Eagle rock itself was super cool!! There isn't much shade cover on this trail, so next time I'd try not to go on a really hot and sunny day. The trail was pretty empty when we went.

The eagle stone itself is pretty awesome. The hike is rated moderate but it was pretty easy in 85 degree weather. FYI, there's absolutely no shade starting from the half way point to eagle stone so bring lots of water.

We have been back each week & enjoyed seeing the lovely advance of spring with the tiny alpine flowers for the past 6 weeks. The mallards now are raising their broods on little Laguna lake. As are the Red Wings. We really enjoy the peace & beauty of this trail.

What a great hike , talk about a mix up of different terrain around every corner!

You work up a good sweat just enough to keep you awake and feeling good!

5/5 recommended

nice trail
kinda hard to find
had to use a website to find the beginning
and got lost several times
the service trail for the power pole mix in with the trail

REMEMBER GO LEFT AT THE T
but the stream was nice and cool and dogs loved it

ALSO A RATTLESNAKE LIVES UP IN THE SMALL CAVE ABOVE THE STREAM/WATERFALL
be careful with children or dogs or anyone

but it was a nice view on a positive note

Beautiful hike!! But be aware that you need a permit. They have a tent pitched at the trailhead and wont let you go past without one. The way down was easy, but the way back up was tougher. Its not steep, but if its hot the granite makes it extremely hot and there is no shade. Bring a gallon per person, youll definitely need it. The water was trickling today, but there was a decent amount in the pool. It looked too stagnant to swim in, but people were in there anyway. Id definitely do it again, or try the two trails that branch from the north and south.

hiking
15 days ago

Very well-maintained trail, hard to get lost. The first 2/3rd you'll have some shade. The last third is straight exposure through grassland. The approach is behind the rock formation so it doesn't look like anything special. Got warned by a rattlesnake chillen by the rocks, so be cautious. Really easy hike.

hiking
17 days ago

I really liked this trail. However, we learned a lesson that might be helpful to other hikers. Since this was our first time we did what other hikers recommended and went down the trail to the creek. It’s the trail before the Cleveland national forest sign if you’re coming from Harding Truck Road. Problem is, when we got down to the dry creek we turned left and headed down stream instead of turning right. We got to a straight drop where it looks like a damn for water control was built. We climbed down to the bottom where there was a lot of shade and a creek. We started walking that path and came across a large sign that said “KEEP OUT” spray painted on a wood board. We thought this was a way to trick people away so we kept going anyway. We came to someone’s house who lives in the middle of nowhere at the end of the creek. It was kind of creepy. Don’t know who they were or if they were someone dangerous so we headed back. That’s when we figured out the right way to go.

hiking
17 days ago

Getting to the waterfall was a piece of cake, but coming back was draining. The heat didn’t help matters either. Make sure you bring LOTS of water!!! The waterfall had trickling water but the pool was full. The sight was worth the hike. I would definitely come back. Overall, it was a great hike!

hiking
17 days ago

This is a pretty little hike that would be great for kids. Also would be nice for folks into bird watching - there were lots of ducks and waterfowl on the pond, and the further east I walked the more I saw. They were very active and vocal. I kept stopping to watch, and I'm not even into birds. There were several guys on the shoreline fishing and I hope I was not scaring the fish away!

off road driving
19 days ago

Stock 4runner SR5 4x4 made it up with ease. Great little getaway spot away from the city.

Went early at 7am. The hiking in/out was great! There was no creek to cross and the waterfall didn't have a lot of water but it's still very pretty! Cool weather today, out by 10:30 in the morning. Perfect day for a hike.

Breathtaking views all around most of the way. The spot where the waterfalls would be was completely dry again though on the May 12th weekend.

Took about 3.5 hours to get up there with okay pace and some quick photo stops. 2.15 return. (So, definitely longer than 4 hr round trip as some people have commented)

Get a permit beforehand. This trail is pretty easy as long as the weather is nice. There is no real climb; it is mostly switchbacks. The waterfall was awesome.

BTW... We saw a dead rattlesnake on the trail. Someone had smashed it with a rock. Yikes!

I did this hike for the first time on 5/27/18 and REALLY enjoyed the hike. This is definitely not a "Hard" hike and should be considered "Moderate" since there are some steep parts but there are just as many level or mild incline parts so it doesn't kick your butt too much. I did this as part of the Tardigrade Tough 8 Challenge which comprises 8 of the hardest hikes in the San Diego area. If you are interested follow @tt8challenge and/or @resilientsquad on Instagram.

Here are the main details of the hike:
Name: Corte Madera in Alpine, CA (east of San Diego)
Distance: 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft
Elevation at Peak: 4,657 ft.
Duration: 3-4 hrs
Difficulty: Moderate

*I used the directions from the All Trails App...basically the 8 East to Exit 51 Buckman Springs Rd, turn right and in 3.3 miles you will turn right on a small side road named Morena Stokes Valley Rd which is a narrow somewhat paved/dirt bumpy road and in 4.8 miles you will see a green metal gate with a red cross on it...parking for about 5 or 6 cars on the left of the road and the hike starts at the metal gate

We arrived at 6:15 am and we were the first to park in the parking area. We saw no one on our way to the peak and saw less than 10 people on our return from the peak. I really enjoy hikes where there are little to no people and there are no sounds of cars or noises except for nature.

For the first .7 miles of the hike you are on an access road lined with oaks provided cover until you reach a metal garbage can with a wooden sign that says Espinosa Trail on the left, this is the way you need to go and you will now be on a narrow single file trail.

At 1.5 miles you will come to an official metal sign which indicates Los Pinos Peak to the left and Espinosa Trail straight, just below this sign is a handmade looking wooden sign with "Corte Madera Mt" and an arrow pointing to the right...follow this sign.

At 1.9 miles you will see an official sign indicating you are entering a nesting area for birds of prey with a wooden handmade sign pointing the way to "CM" and an arrow...follow this sign.

At about 2.6 miles you will see the destination off to your left and you will see why it is called by some the San Diego Half Dome. The final .9 miles to the peak will curve around to the left and you will make a half circle to the peak when you reach about 3.4 to 3.5 total miles. There was no sign at the peak but there was a green metal container with the name and elevation on it.

There is a variation to the scenery on this trail with some shaded and some exposed areas and some cool rocks and there was a nice variety of colors (green, yellow, and violet), but most importantly were the great views at the top. On the day we hiked it was misting in the beginning and lots of fog/low clouds, but by the time we got within a mile from the top we had hiked high enough to be above the clouds and it was clear and beautiful up there. It is definitely worth the drive to do this hike and I highly recommend it.

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
20 days ago

Big fan of this one! It’s challenging and beautiful. The views are amazing. The trail is easy to follow, and it wasn’t too crowded I went on Memorial Day (saw like 5 people). Small convenient parking lot, reminds me of Cowles just.. better

I’d definitely come back, but after some rain. There was almost no water at the end but the rocks were cool. It was a pretty hike and you really feel away from it all. There was no one else on the trail that day which was cool-so quiet, just me and some birds and a snake

this one is a butt kicker and should not be done on a hot day or a beginner. the first section of Trabucco is great and pretty easy with a gradual climb, once you hit Los Pinos it gets a bit steeper but nothing too major. the butt kicker is coming down bell and yearger. it is SUPER steep, very loose terrain like sandy beach loose and you will end up on your butt, walking sideways, falling and possible poison oak. We got all of the above and it puts a lots of stress on your knees. It is very narrow and tree branches hitting you in the face. I loved the first 3/4 hated this section and it was about 4 miles of this. You keep saying "Are you kidding me" just when you thought you were done here comes another section. it is full of shade most the way but the bugs came out in this area. the trail is not marked once you hit Los Pinos peak so you have to really pay attention or you can miss it especially once you get to the meadow and ring the bell. One you ring the bell take a few steps backward to the trail on your right and follow it back into the forest.

Did this trail 2x already. The first time I went we had some rain over the weekend so the falls were flowing really nicely. The 2nd time however, we haven’t had rain in a while (light drizzles) so there was no water flowing and the water was stagnant & gross with moss on top.

Still, it’s an easy trail to walk on.

You have to buy a permit for this location. $10 for every group of 5

You check in at the tent before you start your hike (they clock what time you start and check you out when you’re done)

Getting to the falls is easy since you’re going down. You’ll get nice views of the area on the way. Once you get to the valley, you’ll be walking over a lot of rocks so watch your step. If it rained, and water has been flowing, you’ll be crossing 2 little creeks and climbing a rock or 2 before you get to the falls.

At the falls, if the water hasn’t been stagnant, you can swim out to the tree and swing on a top someone left behind. Make sure your bags and food are sealed or the squirrels living there will take your stuff. They’re cute but sneaky little critters.

I’d say, only the hike back up where you’ll get tired. Always bring lots of water especially if the weather is hot. There are rattlesnakes in the area so be on the look out for them (so far I’ve been lucky the few times I’ve been there) I’ve seen people bring their dogs on the trail and this last time, a couple went horseback riding.

I’ll definitely have to bring some my friends back to this trail after we’ve had some rain so they can experience the nice waterfall I got to see my first time there.

Great family hike. Lost a pair of Maui Jim prescription glasses today, though. If found, please call Jason at 714-910-4101.

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