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Point Defiance Trail is a 2.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near North San Juan, California that features a lake 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.

Length 2.6 mi Elevation gain 498 ft Route type Loop

Dogs on leash

Kid friendly

Hiking

Nature trips

Walking

Bird watching

Running

Forest

Lake

River

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Rocky

Description
Waypoints (0)

Beautiful Loop Trail with views of both the surrounding mountains and a River/Lake on the back side of the hill.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (177)
Photos (331)
Recordings (103)
Completed (299)
Nancy Payne
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We started on the river end to the left, but definitely should have started on the trailhead to the right that starts with switchbacks. When we arrived at the parking lot, someone else in our group asked the ranger if the Point Defiance Trail was open and she said it was. Once we got to the picnic tables at Point Defiance, however, there were signs and tape saying the picnic area was closed. It's definitely a workout of a trail coming in, and three in our group are on their late 60s and early 70s. So we declared Point Defiance as our own, decided the rangers wouldn't be able to catch us before we finished our sandwiches, and spent about a half hour there despite the signs. If you go on this loop anytime soon, check with the rangers to see if the the Point Defiance picnic area is open before you take this trail. It's always possible that they just hadn't gotten out there to take the signs down. Continuing on the loop from Point Defiance, we very much wished we had backtracked instead of completing the loop. The elevation gain is extremely rough at that point. It's a wide trail with a lot of shady spots, so we rested a lot and just took our time getting back. One thing I would caution people on is that other than one couple that we passed in the first quarter mile, we saw ZERO other hikers. If we had run into trouble, there would have been nobody coming along to help. It was a little too isolated for my liking. Other than that, as long as you know what you're in for with the steep elevation change, it's a very pretty trail. Most of it has a nice amount of shade too.

Raimy Fielder
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 29, 2020
HikingRocky

Took my toddler in a pack, spouse, and small dog (on a leash). Parked and payed a fee of 10 bucks and saw them close their kiosk almost immediately after lol oh well they gave me directions to the trail head and advised that we start at the loop to the right and go up the steepest part first to have a more down hill experience the rest of the way. So we did and there is a table at the top of the switch backs in the shade. The rest of the way to the camp site widens up but the beach area is actually closed half way so that would’ve been nice to know but it was super pretty either way. The last stretch that goes by the river is a little rocky and some spots are a little washed out with steep hill. All in all a really good hike and these parts are just a very small section of the trail. Though I wouldn’t say the last stretch is young kid friendly unless they are in a pack

View Raimy's Recording
Marina L.
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HikingFeeRocky

Great trail, nice views, lots of wildflowers

kathleen brooks
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HikingRocky
View kathleen's Recording
Ariel Monet
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Hiking

Gorgeous trail. Intense incline made for an intense workout.

View Ariel's Recording
David Burns
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Hiking

I use this trail two to three times a year to get ready for higher elevation hiking. it's a decent workout out by the lake where you gain most of the elevation. Excellent scenery too.

Tessa Turner
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HikingMuddy

Great shady, loop trail, nice view of the lake at point defiance campground. I started on the right by the covered bridge (which is closed and being restored). I recommend starting the loop on the right with the switchbacks because it’s much nicer going downhill on the steep incline instead of trekking straight up like I did. Only one spot for watch access unless you abandon the trail near the end and cross the dry riverbed. Lots of warnings for mountain lions and rattlesnakes. There is also no view at the top. Parking is 5 dollars and the machine takes cards. I only encountered one person during the 2 hours I was here.

Jenna Johnson
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Steep switchbacks at the beginning (or a steep climb at the end if you start on the river end of the loop) but great views. Highly recommend it around Easter when the butterflies are out and the wildflowers are blooming. We usually get there early or on an off day so we can park in the free spaces across the bridge next to the little pioneer cemetery and add a bit of distance (only about 3 spaces over there but you can snag one early or on a weekday). Comes out to about 3.5 miles this way. The trail crosses through Engelbright Reservoirs Pt. Defiance campground around the halfway point of the hike and there are bathrooms available there. Do be prepared to encounter lots of other hikers and dogs on the river half of the trail unless you hike it in winter. If you do it in summer go in the morning, pack a lunch, and a find a private spot for a swim in the river at the end of the loop.

Marge McCuan
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Hiking

Beautiful hike! I recommend going around the river part first. Beautiful views, access the river.

C G
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 1, 2020
Hiking

Great trail. First half mile is quite a climb to get your heart pumping. Easy access to water and beautiful views for pictures. Picnic areas and benches to really enjoy a full day. Bathrooms available at start of trail. 5.00 parking fee and plenty of parking. Other trails available as well. We kept exploring to get in over 4 miles. Lots of renovations but no inconvenience. Will be happy to enjoy when all is repaired since this is only a few miles from my home. Quite a gem in our neighborhood!!

Mike Masters
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Hiking

I hiked this on 12-23-19 and the trail is still in great shape but some of the rocks are slippery so be careful.

Chantell Hodge
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Hiking

This wasn’t the trail we initially planned but since buttermilk bend is closed we gave it a go. It’s a nice trail, not too strenuous. We had 4 kids with us that did great. It had beautiful river views. Even though the river is very low right now. Nice trail for a short hike!

Kristi Ringland
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HikingBlowdownRocky

I love this trail! It’s got a little bit of everything. Some uphill, downhill and flat as well as beautiful river views over 50% of the hike. Not too strenuous but you can definitely get your heart pumping by just speeding up the pace. One section is a little rocky but entirely doable for any semi-agile person. There was a tree blowdown this trip but not impeding passage. I clocked it with my Fit Bit and the All Trails app at 3.4 miles.

View Kristi's Recording
Nancy Vong
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Hiking

I do this trail reverse go I can be by the pretty water first and avoid that first initial incline BUT boy, that incline 2/3 in will kick your ass! Lol

Trevor Burke
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HikingOff trailRocky
David Burns
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Hiking

someone below insists that this is a 4 mile trail ... surprise Bunky, it is exactly as listed according to my multiple laps around it with my GPS agreeing every time. 2.6, repeat after me, 2.6 miles.

LeeAnn Walker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 24, 2019
HikingRocky

Thia trail is not 2.6 miles. It is around 4 miles round trip. I would also rate this as moderate, not easy. We are in relatively good shape, but it's a bit of a climb on those switchbacks. Overall, good hiking area and the campground had no one there on a Saturday afternoon. The public restroom was well maintained. Good trail, but it is 4 miles!

Jennifer M.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 23, 2019
Hiking

I would put this trail at Easy+ or Moderate. I hiked it both ways and suggest going counter clockwise (start with the switchbacks). Definitely bring your swim gear especially on a hot day. The clear, blue river is very inviting after a good, hot hike! (Bring goggles to see all the fish too)

Shane Merchant
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HikingBridge outRocky
Stephen Hibbs
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Hiking

easy to follow trail. thru oaks, so intermittent shade helps on hot days. take swimming stuff, as trail goes right by one end of Englebright Lake at the confluence of north and south Yuba. trailhead is right across the street from large public parking ($5) lot. Lot can get really full on weekends with river visitors (lots of river picnicers).

DJ Latcham
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 19, 2019
Hiking

I took my two dogs on a Tuesday at 8:00 and we had the entire trail to ourselves. I'd recommend going counterclockwise if you like to get the uphill switchbacks out of the way early. Once you get past the climb, the path widens and you follow a beautiful trail along the river. There's some excellent shoreline campground areas of you wanted to bring a picnic.

Brittany Busse
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Hiking

Great trail. More difficult than Buttermilk Bend. Right across the way. One good spot to access river for swimming.

View Brittany's Recording
Marion M.
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Hiking

4 over fifties with two medium size dogs on leash midday on a Sunday. Few on trail. Switchbacks gentle. View of Lake Englebright from top is beautiful. Rest camp spot at the edge of the lake with a bathroom and covered picnic tables very nice. Overall the trail is easy and we are all in good health and love hiking.

Pamela Owens
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Hiking

We started the trail from the right side and did the switchbacks first. This part of the trail was great. The wide path heading down towards the picnic area was also fine. After leaving the picnic area at Point Defiance we continued our loop. The trail narrows about 5 minutes outside of the picnic area and winds near the river. This part of the trail seemed somewhat overgrown. After walking .5 miles in this direction we encountered two large snakes within 5 minutes of each other. The first snake was over an inch wide and about 2 feet long. It slithered quickly across the path. The 2nd snake was much larger and was coiled up on the path. We tried making noise and stamping our feet. It wiggled it’s head but didn’t leave the path. We took the hint and turned around and hiked back out the way we came in. This made for a 4.7 mile hike for us. We also had to do the steep section twice.

Tony Hedley
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Hiking

Nice trail and views. Ticks are out this time of year ....My family and I picked a few off of us when we finished.

Jody Baroni
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Nice loop trail. Well marked. Only saw people near the Covered Bridge at the end of hike. Great views of lake and river. $5 parking. Worth it for sure.

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