Agua Tibia Full Loop Trail is a 19.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Temecula, California 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.
Note: It costs $5 to park if you don't have an adventure pass.
Serene & quiet, light traffic.
Wonderful views and wild flowers were in bloom.
Completed the full loop yesterday 2/19. So many downed trees, had to climb under at least 6. Be prepared to get soaked at the top. I took the counter clockwise route. Enjoy.
Lots of fallen trees and brush overgrowth along most of the Palomar- Magee Trail. No true peak.
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.
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.
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!!
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!
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.
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.
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.