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Cleveland National Forest is the southernmost National Forest in the state of California. The Forest encompasses 460,000 acres in divided into the Descanso, Palomar and Trabuco Ranger Districts and is in the counties of San Diego, Riverside, and Orange County. The U.S. Forest Service requires National Forest Adventure Pass for parking in many areas of the Cleveland National Forest. Popular activities include enjoying the picnic areas, hitting up the hiking trails up Laguna Mountain and Palomar Mountain, horseback riding, mountain biking. This is also a great place for camping. The Cleveland National Forest has campgrounds in the Descanso, Palomar, and Trabuco Ranger District as well as dispersed camping for a fee. Visitors can also take a drive along the Sunrise Scenic Highway and off roaders will enjoy the Corral Canyon and Wildomar Off-Highway Vehicle Areas. The forest makes a great weekend trip from Los Angeles or other Southern California cities and is a great way to take in the Santa Ana Mountains.

hiking
16 hours ago

Love this hike! Good amount of parking, scenic mountains on the way down and decent work out on the way back. Wear a bathing suit and pack a lunch and hang near the water for a bit. I swam before hiking back to help beat the heat. There is zero shade besides down by the water so be smart. I went last week and there really was just a trickle vs a waterfall but definitely still worth the hike. Oh and get your permit - they checked mine at the tent before entering and then again after I had already done ~2 miles.

Beautiful views!

Great hike to the top of Black Mountain. The trail has a consistent 15-20% grade with a few steep parts near the top. The trail is very exposed with scattered oak trees that offer a respite from the sun. The view at the top is excellent and a lone pine grove rewards you for making it to the top. Bring plenty of water in summer months.

The water at the end of the trail was all dried up which as big bummer. Also- while the trail is easy down along the river, I would say it is more moderate to difficult, especially with young children, because it’s straight down and straight back up out of the valley.

I'm a newbie when it comes to hiking but this is my favorite trail so far. We took the old way to the waterfalls because we thought there would be ropes going down the hill but I guess they took most of the ropes off. We were still able to navigate it though. I really navigating through the rocks and streams but you could tell that few people had gone through the old trail. on the way back we took the newer trail which seemed safer but not as fun. Bring lots of water just in case. it can get hot really fast.

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.

Great hike, do not do this hike on a hot day.

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.

Great hike! Make sure to bring lots of water. Definitely use the ropes to climb up to the next waterfall. You will be glad you did!

Took the trail in my completely stock 2012 tacoma trd off road dropped into 4x4 hi but I feel like I didn’t really need too. Some minor ruts but I made it through with stock clearance. It was very rocky in some sections. Will be back again with a lift bigger tires and aired down just to take away from the rocky sections.

hiking
6 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.

off road driving
9 days ago

Fantastic off road adventure with lots of Geocaches along the route. We took a slightly different path and took a left at Main Divide and went back to Lake Elsinore area. High clearance is a must on this route, and 4x4 is highly recommended. Mostly it's dry but there are a lot of rocks (some medium to large, at least on the route we took) and larger ruts. All in all, it was awesome and had a georgous section through the trees.

backpacking
10 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.

Warning: several hikers have died of heatstroke here. There's almost no shade. it gets hot.

Not many bugs. That's about as far as it goes for good points. This unremitting slog down to an unremarkable falls, followed by an even less remarkable slog back up the exact same trail you just walked down, is free of agreeable views, shade, or, really, any reason to set foot on it. I don't know who built it, and I really don't know why, but I'd like my afternoon back please. Negative 1.21 Gigastars.

Skip It.

off road driving
15 days ago

Took my 89 XJ down the trail and had no problems, just pick good lines because some of those ruts could leave you on your side or worse.

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

Long drive, very nice hike. The forest service has cut a new trail that delivers you to middle sister. Please use this and not the old "trail". I.e. don't cross the pink line across the edge of trail. Those random routes straight down the slope have caused a scar that will take a decade or more to recover IF it remains unused and people don't cause more erosion. When on the new trail, as you get near the falls/stream bed the trail becomes difficult to follow. Look for pink ribbons tied on shrubs that indicate trail. I climbed to middle fall (rope is there but not necessary). Good swimming in that one. Stream is still moving but just barely above a dribble really.

Please at least pack out everything you bring in. If you can pick up something and leave it cleaner than you found it! I found a pile of trash hidden behind a tree. Packed them out too:)

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
17 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.

Loved this hike. Seems easier than Cedar Creek. The water level was low and we didn’t climb to the top falls, but it was beautiful!

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