Horsethief Canyon Trail

EASY 126 reviews
#16 of 121 trails in

Horsethief Canyon Trail is a 3.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Alpine, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
3.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
498 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

This is a short hike down to a small swimming hole surrounded by rocks. There is some shade on the trail, but not much. The hike starts from a parking lot, down a dirt road and then you make a right onto the trail that takes you down about 400 ft to the water. Be sure to bring water for the hike out, as there is little shade and it's all up. As soon as you feel like you've had enough, you're already at the top and it's a flat walk back to the car.

hiking
2 months ago

The water at the end of the trail was all dried up which as big bummer. Also- while the trail is easy down along the river, I would say it is more moderate to difficult, especially with young children, because it’s straight down and straight back up out of the valley.

hiking
2 months ago

We were very disappointed that there wasn’t any water in the canyon. The hike, albeit short, was very steep for about half a mile and our older Labrador had a tough time getting back up. Only ran into a couple other people all afternoon. If there were water, this hike would be great!

hiking
2 months ago

I’d definitely come back, but after some rain. There was almost no water at the end but the rocks were cool. It was a pretty hike and you really feel away from it all. There was no one else on the trail that day which was cool-so quiet, just me and some birds and a snake

hiking
3 months ago

This trail was okay. Not "must do again," but nice enough. I did this trail alone with my dog on a Friday afternoon and there was NOT A SINGLE OTHER SOUL AROUND. Normally I'm happy to find less trafficked trails, but this was creepy since I was by myself!

4 months ago

Awesome! Just beware...where there is water, there be a-holes

hiking
4 months ago

Fun hike!!! Enjoy!!!

hiking
6 months ago

Great hike for the kids, water features are always a nice way to take a break halfway through. especially in San Diego where water features are almost nonexistent. Its a pretty gradual descent down into the canyon which flattens out as you get closer to the Pine Valley Creek. We went in the afternoon around 3, which was perfect. Hopefully we get some more rain this year, because I'm planning on a springtime return here. I could see how it could be scorching in this area around summer time, so bring lots of water. Should really call it the Espinosa Trail through Horsethief Canyon.

6 months ago

Make sure you don't miss the sign to go down hill to the trail. coming back up was a killer.

hiking
7 months ago

Easy to moderate overall with a decent incline to finish the hike. Not much tree cover, but trail is pretty well maintained and easy to follow. Just stick to the signs directing you towards “Espinosa Trail” or “The Secret Trail” (may have been an old name for this trail).

10 months ago

There are two trails. Both go through the biggest gate from the parking lot then take your first right after a quarter mile where the sign says "trail". After the descent into the canyon there is a T bone intersection. Left is overgrown and will create a 3 mile loop that meets up with the fire road. Right is a 5 mile out and back to some point and better groomed. Poison oak is abundant.

I personally prefer just driving Lyons valley road than this trail but glad to experience it.

For easiest day just do the fire road.

hiking
Thursday, August 03, 2017

It was tough with a 10month old strapped to my back on the way back up but the stroll down was easy and enjoyable. Take plenty of water.

hiking
Sunday, July 30, 2017

Went today. There's no water at the end which is understandable. The entire way out was completely full of bees and ticks. Dog had two on her and we had some as well. Not a fun hike back up either

Monday, July 10, 2017

Fun little trail with swimming at the end.

hiking
Monday, July 03, 2017

Fantasic pool at the end of the trail. Well worth the trip

trail running
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

It wasn't easy but lots of fun. Bring water if you hit it up during the summer it gets hot

hiking
Sunday, June 11, 2017

Fun hike. Went With my 1 year old and we have a nice little swim. Good water level and water was not cold.

hiking
Monday, June 05, 2017

Fun hike! Started out on a fire trail then onto the real trail. Easy path defending into the valley. LOTS of poison oak, watch out! Rattle snakes were seen too. Once we were at the creek to cross it was about 10 min to the pool. Pool was fun and a perfect temperature. Early morning or afternoon are best times to hike as it does get brutally hot (June).

hiking
Monday, May 29, 2017

Absolutely a great hike!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Nice easy hike with a beautiful reward at the end.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Nice easy hike with a beautiful reward at the end.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Nice easy hike with a beautiful reward at the end.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A fantastic hike and the end is so relaxing. Great day!

hiking
Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The water hole at the end is a beautiful oasis!!! Cant wait to go back.

nature trips
Thursday, May 04, 2017

Beautiful hike! Easy enough for beginners and smaller children. We brought our two year old in a carrier with minimal difficulty. The end of the trail is a gorgeous little waterfall and a lazy river. Kids brought an inner tube and had fun for hours!

hiking
Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Horsethief Canyon >> Esparanza trail. Beautiful hike and great trail! Signage is minimal, but sufficient. Read the map at the car park. Two concerns: Border patrol agents clash with border crashers in this area & the 547ish foot elevation change is a drop. About 85% is within the first 3/4 mile making it a short, challenging hike out, rough and dry in the heat. May consider stashing water along the climb next time. Or a rock.

Thanks to the recent record-breaking wet season (2016/17), the creek was flowing and the watering hole was quite full. I had the entire place to myself for hours. Brilliant. Animals kept themselves scarce save birds, dragonflies, waterskeeters, frogs & lizards. The water was fantastic, clean and cool.

(A third concern, biting flies on the steep part of the trail ;-)~

hiking
Wednesday, May 03, 2017

First thing we hear when we get out of the car is a rattlesnake. Had to be cautious the whole hike but overall fun little hike to reach some cool water

hiking
Saturday, April 22, 2017

This is NOT an easy hike.

hiking
Monday, April 10, 2017

Fun for kids. Got an early start around 9am today (Saturday), worth getting up early. Only saw one other person on the trail walking in. Then walking out closer to 10:30am passed about 5 groups. Would definitely do again.

hiking
Sunday, April 02, 2017

Beautiful views!

hiking
Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Beautiful relatively short hike, although I am not sure about the 'easy' designation as I've done hikes labeled moderate with the same difficulty. Might lull people into not bringing enough water, especially during warmer months.

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