Agua Tibia Full Loop Trail

HARD 53 reviews
#2 of 4 trails in

Agua Tibia Full Loop Trail is a 18.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Temecula, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

18.5 miles
3871 feet

dogs on leash





nature trips

trail running


wild flowers



over grown

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

8 days ago

Great trail however is extremely overgrown during the last 4 miles of elevation gain. Pain in the butt if you’re over 6ft

19 days ago

I gave it 5 stars because it has different challenges and not a walk in the park. I took the ambient temperature was 32 degrees 7 a.m. At the trail head. Took dripping springs up. Nice scenery a lot of chapparal. little shade.Took 3.75 liters of water (in summer I suggest 5 at least). Palomar Mcgee, starts to flatten up a little. this is where the over grown brush and fallen trees are at different spots for a couple of miles. Thank you to whoever put blue and white checkered markers to help stay on trail. making a left on Crosley saddle you go down . when you reach the river bed you start climbing again. Then undulating for a few miles then get to the bottom. 24.4 miles total. Alltrails can keep you on trail but won't give you appropriate mileage. For food I brought cold soaked oatmeal with sugar and berries, ramen with soy sauce vinegarette and carrots, hummus and snacks.

20 days ago

I hiked Eagle Crag from the Cucta Trail Head on the 2nd of February. Easy up until the last .5 mile, which isn't marked (it is the only way to Eagle Crag). It was incredibly steep (70+% incline) for a few hundred feet with minimal trail to follow. Then the trail just vanished. I knew the general direction to the peak from my GPS and just bushwhacked to the top. From the trail register, it seems that me and my buddy where the second and third guys up there since Christmas. I made somewhat of a trail, so it'll be easier for future hikers this year.

25 days ago

I lost a clear white diamond shaped topaz/quartz crystal earring that has a microchip embedded in it which displays a picture of my girlfriend if you hold it up to your phone. We camped at the intersection of cutca, palomar-mgcee, and wild horse trail about 10 feet behind the trail sign on a flat section next to some leftover coals from an old fire overlooking the edge. I 100% know its there because i left it in the tent and forgot to take it out when we turned the tent inside out. Just hoping whoever finds it has an android phone or iphone8 so that they might accidentally see the return info. Thank you if anyone decides to takeup the challenge! Its going to rain in 3 days i hope it doesnt get washed away :(
heres the last picture of it haha

goodluck to any treasure hunters!!
email me if you find it

26 days ago

A fair amount of growth on the trail, which makes having sleeves and long pants very nice!

1 month ago

I broke this up into 2 days. My route was Dripping Springs > Palomar-magee trail > (camp) > Cutca to Eagle Crag (didn't make it) > back down to Wild Horse. Here's my review:

First off, you'll need to email a form to the ranger to get a permit to backpack. I filled mine at night and got it back the next morning. Super easy and free.

I started off on the Dripping Springs trail which had absolutely amazing views and I'm happy I started with this trail. This trail barely has any shade. It's well kept, easy to follow and is a pretty good climb. At the end of this trail, there will be a sign for Palomar-magee trail. You can camp here since there are a couple open spots and head back, or if you dare, head to the Palomar-magee trail.

The Palomar-magee trail, like everybody says, is heavily overgrown - meaning, there's a million branches in your way along with fallen trees that you'll have to climb over or crawl under. If you do not have pants, or a long sleeve, then you'll get minor scratches. However, if you look down, you'll see the trail and won't get lost. There was one point where I questioned if it was the right trail, but looked to my right and saw the opening. I've heard of some people who turned around because they didn't want to deal with it. If you're up for the fight and want to do the whole loop, then this is the only way to do it.

At the end of the Palomar-magee trail, you'll find yourself at the junction that says Cutca trail, wild horse, and dripping springs (aka going back to palomar-magee). If you go up about 20 feet on the Cutca trail and look to the right for an opening, there are several GREAT camp spots, which I camped at and saw an amazing sunset.

The next day, I went up the Cutca trail, which was almost just as overgrown as the Palomar Magee but not AS bad. There will be times where you may need to take off your pack to hop over some fallen trees. As I got to the junction of Cutca Trail/Dripping springs/Indian Reserve, I had no idea where to go. Do not go down Cutca Trail, which HAS a blue/white ribbon, or you will descend and will further yourself from the loop. Then like me, you'll realize it's the wrong way and have to trek back uphill. Instead, I placed several pine cones, south west, where there is an opening but easily missed. Just look southwest on your compass and you'll see what I'm talking about. Now this trail is HEAVILY overgrown. I attempted to go down this trail, got pretty far and got to a junction where I had no idea where to go. There was a trail that was going north, which I believe would bring me away from Eagle Crag. There was another semi trail that looked like it was going up a VERY STEEP hill on my right.. It was extremely steep and I didn't want to deal with it, so I retraced my steps to head back out. I wish Cleveland National Forest would put some signs here, in addition to clearing the trails...

I got back to the Cutca/Dripping Springs/Wild horse junction where I camped, and started to take the white horse trail. This trail has a lot more shade than Dripping Springs, however, A LOT of flies in the "forest" that will attack your eyes and ears (super annoying). Be prepared for a crap ton of flies.. Once you make it past the forest and flies, you'll be fine. It's all descending, not as beautiful as Dripping Springs, but you definitely don't want to go back to Palomar Magee. There are some parts that are overgrown but nothing crazy like Palomar Magee.

All in all, Dripping Springs was beautiful and everything else was pretty overgrown, except for the start and mid section of Wild horse. Be prepared to fight a million branches and hopping over fallen trees if you're doing Palomar-Magee to connect the loop.

Tips: There isn't any water so bring a lot of water, the desert will dry out your mouth. If you plan on doing Magee, bring pants. I had pants and a tshirt but my forearms were getting scratched quite a bit.

1 month ago

I did the loop yesterday, my first time. the loop is passable but be prepared to battle with trees and bushes as you make your way through the midpoint of the hike. overall it was a great day! love the vistas and the challenge, will be doing this one often!

4 months ago

Great Challenge of a hike. Bring Hedge clippers though and if you look it has amazing sites. You can even see the pacific half way through the loop.

8 months ago

Not realistically accessible at this time.
July 2017: excessive brush overgrowth, no foot traffic, and fallen trees have rendered the connecting trail loop between the 2 legs (dripping springs and wild horse) effectively inaccessible. As-is anticipate 2-3 hours to crawl your way through the bushes (gps needed when loosing the trail). If you really want to go through, I'd recommend bringing pruning/cutting equipment.

9 months ago

This was a great hike - very beautiful and very challenging -but we could not actually do the loop due to multiple fallen trees and a gigantic bee hive in one of the trees. Luckily we could cover enough ground back tracking and taking the other side of the loop. We could not make it all the way though that half either due to the trail not being maintained. All in all we got in plenty of miles but would have been nice to do the loop or at least finish one complete side.

9 months ago

My low rating is simply to draw attention to the fact that the trail is currently impassable due to being seriously overgrown. Travelling counter-clockwise, you're pretty much blocked about 1 mile past the end of the dripping springs trail.

The other thing to watch out for is that camp/tent sites are very limited (at least this weekend - May 28 after a rainy winter) because the foliage is super dense and the terrain is very steep. There's only 1 small site near the area where the trail becomes blocked, so be ready for an uneven tent site and possibly company since the only options are the 1 site or hike down the way you came.

The dripping springs trail section was nice. Great view the entire time. I'm sure the rest of the loop could be a lot of fun when it's passable. Just be sure to check conditions first.

9 months ago

Great day to hike

11 months ago

Serene & quiet, light traffic.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Wonderful views and wild flowers were in bloom.

Monday, February 20, 2017

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.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Lots of fallen trees and brush overgrowth along most of the Palomar- Magee Trail. No true peak.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

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 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.

trail running
Monday, November 28, 2016

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.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

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!!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

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
Sunday, November 13, 2016

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.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

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.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

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.

Friday, March 25, 2016

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.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

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

Sunday, December 13, 2015

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.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

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

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

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 :-)

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