Vallecito Creek, Arroyo Seco del Diablo, and Arroyo Tapiado Loop

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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Vallecito Creek, Arroyo Seco del Diablo, and Arroyo Tapiado Loop is a 41.2 kilometer moderately trafficked loop trail located near Julian, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for camping and scenic driving and is best used from October until May.

Distance: 41.2 km Elevation Gain: 331 m Route Type: Loop


scenic driving



wild flowers



washed out

no dogs

This is a challenging off-road driving route within driving distance of San Diego. This loop reaches the trailhead to the famous mud caves, which can also be found on AllTrails. The mud caves are on the Arroyo Tapiado side (western side) of the loop. A 4WD vehicle with good ground clearance is necessary for this. If you'd like to extend your trip, you can go farther north on Arroyo Seco del Diablo and Arroyo Tapiado. Beware that the trails extended north do not loop, so you will reach the ends and need to turn around. OHV’s are not allowed in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, all vehicles must be highway legal.

ohv/off road driving
18 days ago

Great trail highly recommended bring plenty of water

This trail is amazing it rained yesterday 9/26/19 and we hit a ton of mud. We had to drive through a standing water crossing probably from at the rain. It was awesome!

ohv/off road driving
Mon May 27 2019

Definitely a spot to check out for mud caves! I recommend taking a good vehicle to get in. Although, I did see a minivan make it up pretty close. But they walked up to some of the caves. But I wouldn't risk it... We only looked for several - and they are very fun! Get ready to get dusty! Take headlamp/flashlight. Mask if you are very sensitive to dust. Definitely something to experience! Kind of hard to find the 'entrance to the caves.' So if it looks like a hole - from far away - just walk up to it and try to see it up close. Because those are the ones that end up being the entrances. Be careful of the sand and your step - because it is VERY soft and the dust flies everywhere. Just be careful going up and down!

ohv/off road driving
Tue Mar 12 2019

Was only muddy in one are tried to go around and almost flipped was nerve racking but was able to do. I would say do this trail completely in about 1 week

Took my suburu crosstrek out on this loop had to back track and take the cut across road to get through, super awesome drive. The caves were pretty darn cool!

Tue Jan 01 2019

Great trail had a lot of fun however map is miss leading this is not a loop. You can make it a loop if you use the cut off trail.

ohv/off road driving
Thu Dec 20 2018

What an amazing sight this trail is. Going through Arroyo Seco Del Diablo looks like you're driving through the set of an Indiana Jones movie. So Amazing! Trail is easy with a LandCruiser and did all the trail in 4WD high. We actually turned right from this trail to Diablo's Drop Off. Amazing!

ohv/off road driving
Mon Dec 10 2018

Great trail! Super fun and beautiful. Must have take a wrong turn though because the trail just way to make it through so we just ended up going back the same way we came in. Got stuck too!! Put the wife to work. Bringing a shovel next time. Hah!

ohv/off road driving
Thu Nov 29 2018

Some soft sand here and there, but the road is nice and fairly flat. A few areas of washboard. I'd avoid it after a rain, lots of the road is in the floodplain. The mud caves are really fun to hike. Bring a headlamp or flashlight.

Sun May 20 2018

ohv/off road driving
Sun Apr 08 2018

It was a pretty good trail, don’t think I was allowed to do it on a dual sport but I did it anyway. The soft sand was ruff haha. I probably wouldn’t do it again because of my off road vehicle, but there is definitely beauty in desert scenery.

Fri Mar 23 2018

nice caves and canyons. However, long washboard trail was punishing.

Sun Dec 31 2017

Dusty but lots of fun. Very worth going. Can’t wait to go back. You can also camp there.

Mon Apr 17 2017

Dusty. Lol.

Mon Jul 04 2016

Fantastic crawl space caves. Can be scary if you don't like small spaces.

Mon Mar 21 2016

The Mud Caves at Arroyo Tapiado are seriously the second coolest thing I have seen in San Diego County (the first was snorkeling off the La Jolla shores). There are so many different caves and different spots to explore. Its sure to keep you busy all day. Like others mentioned, bring a flash light, batteries, water, and food. I plan on coming out to camp out here again real soon!

Thu Mar 03 2016

Get ready to get dirty! Can't wait to go back! Don't forget your headlamp! :)

Mon Feb 22 2016

Hiked yesterday and we had a blast. Amazing structures to hike, walk, crawl through. Lots to see and explore. Lived up to its hype and did not disappoint. Wear pants, long sleeved shirts, bring a headlamp, helmet, and spare flashlight. Safety is a must on this one!

ohv/off road driving
Sat Feb 06 2016


Sun Feb 01 2015

This is a one of a kind experience. Get ready to get dirty and have the time of your life. The road in is a little rough, easy for my truck but be careful if you have a vehicle that sits close to the ground.

Fri Mar 01 2013

GREAT HIKE! I had so much fun exploring all of the mud caves! We went for a day trip from San Diego and had so much fun that we're going back for an overnight camping trip in a few weeks. I definitely recommend a head lamp over a flashlight as there's times where you're crawling on all-fours. We drove out in our Honda Civic and somehow it made it! The dirt roads are fairly compacted but there were a few loose spots. We just drove slow and tried to avoid loose dirt. Crawling through caves left me feeling a little claustrophobic at first, but I adjusted quickly and love every second of it! I'd recommend doing your research because you head out there to map out where each cave is.

Tue Nov 13 2012

The mud caves were awesome spent two days exploring caves loved it so much going back next week just be ready for a lot of climbing and crawling in very tight areas and don't walk on the top of the hill over 22 caves highly recommend this hike or it's more of an exploration

Mon Dec 12 2011

Only an hour and a half from La Mesa/San Diego! I went Dec 10th & saw the lunar eclipse on my drive there early in the morning. This hike is fairly long, but also fairly flat. It follows the wash through both the canyons, which also acts as the only road through the canyons. It's suitable for most cars, although a few soft sands and uneven parts of the wash would be best in a car with 4 wheel drive. You can hike the whole loop or drive your car to any spot along Arroyo Tapiado and spend the day exploring the mud caves (awesome)! Scenery isn't my favorite (I prefer alpine to chaparral) but the caves & clear skies are worth it. Camping here is free and the only restriction is that fire must be in a metal container. All in all, it would be a great day/weekend trip.

ohv/off road driving
4 months ago

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