Barker Valley Spur Trail

MODERATE 29 reviews
#33 of 105 trails in

Barker Valley Spur Trail is a 7.4 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Warner Springs, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. 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.

7.4 miles
1040 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash






nature trips






wild flowers



over grown



This trail is not technically closed but the road to the trailhead is. You can still hike in, but this will add 8 miles onto your hike.

2 months ago

We took our scout troop backpacking here last weekend. They boys read Stephanie Bradshaw's trail description and we found each marker (dry creek bed, meadow, large rock, cactus, weir) precisely as she described it. The boys thought it was a treasure hunt. There was no water in the creek but some incredible views. Of course it warmed up on the hike up and out which gave me plenty of opportunities to stop and admire the vistas. The observatory peaking above the ridgeline was an awesome sight! Will definitely come back in the spring to enjoy the water. Watch out for poison oak which was grown over the trail near the creek. Can someone please explain what the tower next to the river is for?

2 months ago

2 months ago

3 months ago

4 months ago

The road to the TH is now open (July 2017). The road to the TH does close sporadically during prescribed fire burns on Palomar Mountain, generally in the spring. Please call the Palomar Ranger District for up to date road closures and conditions at 760-788-0250. Additionally, this is a strenuous trail during the summer months and hiking is not advised.

5 months ago

This was a fun but hot hike- not that this is unexpected in Mid June. The trail to the bottom of the dry stream bed is easy to follow. The trail changes from packed dirt, to sandy, to rock-filled, and back again many times down the path. Views are fantastic.

If you are looking to stay the night there are several great spots. The easiest spots to find are right after you cross the dry stream bed at the bottom of the hill. Within 1/2 a mile there are several great spots under trees where people have obviously camped many times before hand.

If you are feeling a little more adventurous and want to be close the water then I suggest another option. Stephanie Bradshaw's post gives a good description of another smaller foot path that goes left right before crossing the stream bed. Follow her advice and you will get to the water. The only thing I would add is that this is roughly another mile away and at times you might think you are almost lost. Yet keep following the path. Finally, you will come to a large meadow (400 yards+ long). At the end of the meadow is a large old oak tree that provides a great place to camp. I suggest dropping your bags at this spot and continuing on without your packs to the water.

Follow the path to the end of the meadow. You will be scrambling up some rocks and often it looks like it would be easier to go to the right. Based on some advice I received don't go right. Instead go left and as Stephanie suggested there will be one point where you simply climb over the rock. Once you get over the top keep going for another 100 feet and you will see the stream and dam down the hill. Its a little bit of a scramble down to the stream but a small little beach and a pool deep enough to swim in 3-4 feet will greet you.

I heard there are deeper pools further down the trail but I didn't explore them this trip

6 months ago

We had a great day on this trail -- once we finally got to the trailhead. First our GPS took us up a different dirt road where we eventually came to a locked gate. But then we got on the right road (take the 79 to Palomar Divide Road and that will get you to the trailhead). The road is partially paved and partially dirt, and our minivan has made it on much rougher roads than this without any problem, but when we were 2 miles short of the trailhead we happened to hit a rock in just the right way to cause a flat tire. We're grateful to Kyle the mountain biker who stopped and helped put on our spare tire! Since the trailhead was only 2 miles away, we drove very carefully up the rest of the road with our spare tire and still did the hike.

The road was open all the way to the trailhead as of 13 June 2017. Because of our difficulties on the road, we got there late and started in about 11:30am. It wasn't too hot out (high of about 75 degrees that day). The long descent downhill at midday without too much shade was a little hot for the dogs, but we kept giving them plenty of water to drink, and just pushed it and got down to the stream as soon as we could, and they were fine as soon as they could take a swim. The trail was easy to follow.

Once we got to the bottom of the hill at the dry stream bed we made sure to follow the little foot path to the left, rather than following the main trail crossing the stream bed to the right. There were so many comments from other hikers about this trail being really difficult to find and follow, but we didn't really have a problem. It is a narrow, winding foot path with grassy weeds growing along it -- but just keep an eye on the path and if you're in doubt take a moment to look around you'll see where the path continues. We took much longer on this portion of our hike than we had to, because after we stopped for lunch the kids insisted on putting on their water shoes and making their way downstream through the water. It was slow going, but the kids enjoyed it. Some of the rocks in the water were slippery, even with water shoes. On our return hike we stuck to the foot path the whole way back, and found it easy to follow.

Once you come to a meadow and then come to some rocks at the end of the meadow, climb up and over the top of the rocks (not around to the right side of the rocks closer to the stream). When you see a cactus at the top of the rocks (the only cactus we saw on the whole trail) you know you're going to right way. Just keep going straight and you will see a little path beyond the rocks, which will then lead down the little hill to the water at the small dam and the weir. The kids had fun climbing inside the weir, until they saw that there was a small beehive inside and they left it alone. There were a few spots here where it would be deep enough to swim, maybe even deep enough to jump from the rocks into the water.

We continued downstream and found gradually larger cascades over rocks and little waterfalls and pools, until we ended up at the top of a tall cascading waterfall with the rectangular pool in the rock just beside where the waterfall dropped down steeply. If we had gotten out there a lot earlier in the day we may have tried to find a way to carefully climb down to the pools below this falls -- I climbed the rocks to the top of the ridge to get a good view of the surrounding area, and could see some more pools further down stream around the bend. It looked very tempting to continue exploring more, but I didn't want to risk staying too late and having to drive down the mountain on the rocky road with our little spare tire in the dark, so we decided to leave that for another trip. (Maybe backpacking in and camping in the meadow before the weir, then having a whole day to explore around the water?)

We hiked back out, and stuck to the trails the whole way out. It took us 3 hours to get from the falls to our car. It's a long ascent at the end of the day when you're already worn out from a day of hiking & exploring, but it ended up being perfect timing as we hiked uphill in the late afternoon/early evening, arriving back at the trailhead at 7:30pm -- it would have been a lot less comfortable doing that in the heat of the day. (Our kids, age 8 to 13, are all very experienced hikers for their ages, but it was still pretty slow going for them as they were tired, and the trail just kept gradually going up and up and up). I personally thought it wasn't too bad hiking out up the hill, especially that time of day. But we did take occasional short rest breaks for the kids, so I defiantly wasn't straining myself at that pace.

Fortunately for us, the bugs were not a problem like some previous hikers had experienced. We carried bug spray, but never had to take it out of our packs and use it. We only saw a couple of bikers and a motorcyclist on the dirt road the whole way to the trailhead, and passed no one on the road the whole way out. We spent 8 hours out

6 months ago

1) the road was open on 5-28-17
2) nothing is well marked; not roads, not trail... so pay attention
3) you can only get there from 79, not the 76
4) insects - abundant and unrelenting

I read that "bugs" were a problem so armed With a bottle of deet and some all natural pet spray for our dogs we headed out. As soon as we exited our vehicle at the trail head we were swarmed by bees and flies, we scrambled to get our gear together and make our way down thinking they would let up but it wasn't until we made it almost to bottom some 2 1/2 miles down that they finally abated... horrible!!!

Unfortunately we didn't read enough reviews regarding the waterfall location and we turned right heading towards the meadows - needless to say we never did find the pools or falls. The trail was a bit difficult to follow at times but we did see two main campsites. Since we kept pushing farther along the trail passing through dry riverbed after riverbed trying to find the waterfall we ended up just camping at the second one since it was the first one as we made our way back from the stream... (in hindsight I would have opted for the first one, much more flat and lush - not just hard dirt).

Setting up camp was quick with the exception of the never ending supply of annoying insects... the mosquitoes were plentiful but I think our deet did the trick to keep us bite free, then there were the ticks - flicked one off my clothes, watched a few climbing on outside of our tent... but the real nuisance were the FLIES, they were RELENTLESS!!! Covered in deet, with a shirt wrapped around my head (to block my ears) we were done "experiencing nature" and by 5pm we zipped ourselves into the safety of our tent going out only when absolutely necessary.

We started packing up the next day just after 5am, we hoped to beat the bugs and the heat. For the most part our plan worked but it was a slow moving hike back up for my out of shape rump and the older of our two dogs. We were bug free until about the last mile and then it was right back to swarming proportions... we just couldn't escape them. Finally at the trail head we threw our gear in as quickly as possible and heading down the road a couple miles before we situated ourselves!! In all of my hiking and camping I have NEVER experienced ANYTHING LIKE THAT!!! Never again, at least not at this time of year!!!

6 months ago

8 months ago

This is some misleading trail info. It's not as easy to get to as everyone says. At least not right now. The gate to get to Palomar truck divide road is closed to vehicles. So. That means to get to the trail head you have to go 8 miles on a steady incline to close to 5000 feet to get to the actual Barker Spur Trail, which with a pack filled with overnight camp gear takes forever and is a bit strenuous. Especially for dogs. It took me close to 8 hours to get to the trail head. It was quickly becoming dark as I made my decent into the valley and I ended up camping on the ridge in the middle of the trail. Lame. So. Unless you want to repeat my mistakes, don't attempt if the road isn't open. And it won't be till they are done with all the controlled burns they are doing out here.

8 months ago

9 months ago

one of my favorite hikes going down to the valley is different I would love to back pack and camp down there .

10 months ago

Road to the trailhead closed 2-8-17

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Trail is pretty well maintained and an easy descent and ascent. Scenery was okay, nothing super inspiring. There was no water innthe riverbed on 11.12.16.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

We did an overnight in October during a drought. There was some water in spots. Definitely going back after the rains. The waterfalls would be beautiful when the river is flowing.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Enjoy this trail. Have been here a few times camping (don't forget to get your visitors permit for overnight) and have been the only person in the valley. Doesn't seem like a heavily traveled trail. Make sure to bring plenty of water or a good filter, and watch the weight you bring in.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Great two day trip with our Boy Scout trip. The climb out was a bit steep but it was not that bad to handle. There was very little water in the river and it has turned into somewhat of a marsh now. Camp sites aren't clearly marked except for sticks with bike reflectors on them. Great hike though, stunning views of the surrounding Palomar Mountain area.