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San Mateo Canyon Trail is a 13.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Lake Elsinore, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 13.8 miles Elevation Gain: 1,368 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash


nature trips

bird watching


wild flowers


over grown



off trail

Directions from Temecula, CA: Travel Interstate 15 to the Clinton Keith Road exit and go west, then south on Tenaja Road for a total of 9.9 miles. Turn right on Rancho California Road (FS 7S01). Continue 5 miles to trailhead.

over grown
14 days ago

Definitely overgrown. Pants recommended. It was so pretty and no one else out on the trail. Great hike! There was a few areas where you have to kind of search for the trail, but found it pretty easily.

over grown
11 months ago

Completely overgrown with poison oak and every other plant. Thankfully the cairns at the washed out crossings and little white posts helped. The high split trial was easy to find on the way out. So I took the lower creek one back and had to sludge to connect back to the split. Tons of bugs, tons of stickers, thorns, giant plants, spider webs that were 6’ wide and 8’ tall (look for it by the log at Fisherman’s camp, there are two). It was brutal but I don’t see one human so it was heaven. Did the waterfall first then the trail so I didn’t make it all the way to the end. I had enough.

Wed Jun 12 2019

heavily overgrown

Mon Jun 19 2017

Objective: Make movement to East Clark Trail. Disposition: San Mateo Canyon is heavily overgrown. Main path marked by difficult to spot cairns due to vegetation. Poison oak is abundant and requires continuous active avoidance for the duration. Proceeded 0.5 miles past map indicated trail junction. No indication of junction/terminus. Upon egress it was immediately found to be impossible to identify my own spor, use of cairns remained obligatory for ease of travel. Canyon is notably beautiful. Trails West Clark and Bluewater are marked and appear serviceable although strenuous.

Tue Sep 06 2016

not that hard until the end. 90 percent was moderate, the last section was difficult because of the incline but very doable for most people with breaks.

Mon Feb 29 2016

This was fun!

11 months ago