Eagle Crag via Agua Tibia Loop

HARD 9 reviews
#4 of 4 trails in

Eagle Crag via Agua Tibia Loop is a 25.9 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Butterfield Lake Estates, California that features a great forest setting. The trail is only recommended for very experienced adventurers and primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
25.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5252 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

forest

views

blowdown

bugs

old growth

over grown

scramble

Agua Tibia full loop trail with an extension on the Cutca trail up to the Eagle Crag summit. Very difficult day hike, fairly strenuous overnight backpack with a place to camp just past the cutoff for the Eagle Crag Summit. There is NO water on the trail.

backpacking
2 months ago

Backpacked this trail over two days. Dripping Springs Trail to Palomar Magee Trail to Crosley Saddle. We set up camp on Crosley Saddle and hiked 6 miles to Eagle Crag and back on the Cutca Trail. The next morning we hiked Wild Horse Peak back down to Dripping Springs Campground. Dripping Springs Campground has toilets and running water. It's not very quiet being right off of CA 79. We camped there Friday night to get an early start on Saturday morning but the other campers were playing loud music, drinking, and talking loudly until well after midnight. We should have just drove there early Saturday morning. If you're camping in the wilderness you need to get a free permit. Also, you need an adventure pass displayed on your vehicle or you can pay the $5 dollars a day use fee at the campgrounds. Camping is $15 a night at Dripping Springs Campground. I highly recommend a bug net for your head. It will save your sanity!

hiking
3 months 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.

4 months ago

I did this day hike with my homie Rod a few weekends ago. The first half of the loop was beautiful hiking and some of the best I’ve done around San Diego. I suggest you wear long pants as the ticks were abundant and their bite very annoying. We reached the magee section of the trail around sunset and this was a very hard and seemingly untouched trail. After a long battle with the bushes, we reached the parking lot around 12 am. This is a long day hike (took us 15 hours) and I do not suggest the Magee trail unless you bring your machete and patience. All in all great hike, didn’t see a single person all day.

backpacking
4 months 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. I wouldn't recommend Eagle Crag unless if you exactly know where to go (I didn't).

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. Once again, I don't think Eagle Crag was worth it.

4 months ago

The McGee portion of the trail is now so overgrown that you literally have to crawl on your hands and knees through miles of bramble while getting whipped in the face with branches. About a 3 mile stretch is completely overgrown. The only way you know you’re not lost are some random bits of plastic tied to the branches you find every 30 minutes or so. Found myself very claustrophobic and stressed during this part of the hike. The rest of the hike was amazing! I suggest you take the wild horse route up and down. Don’t even bother with McGee it’s almost impassable as it is.

backpacking
Sunday, November 27, 2016

Did this as a backpacking trip with Amelia. Up the Dripping Springs side and to a small camp site past the cutoff to Eagle Crag's summit. This trail may have the best views in SD. Eagle Crag's summit is spectacular. Beware that the Palomar Mcgee trail are quite overgrown and definitely a cross country route. No water on this trail either so be prepared.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017