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Santa Margarita River Trail

MODERATE 823 reviews

Santa Margarita River Trail is a 5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Fallbrook, California that features a river 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.

Distance: 5.0 miles Elevation Gain: 469 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

running

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

washed out

I-15 N to Fallbrook exit. Take Mission Rd. 5 mi. E; turn N onto Pico Ave. (becomes De Luz Rd.). Continue 2.4 mi.; go R @ fork onto Sandia Creek Dr. N. Parking area is in 1 mi. (just before bridge); trailhead is E of lot.

hiking
2 days ago

great place it's a must I come back

hiking
9 days ago

Lovely hike, beautiful nature, it was also nice to see a river active at this time of year. We saw a beaver dam but no beavers.

hiking
10 days ago

Great hike! We took the dogs and they loved the river. Fairly busy on a Sunday morning. We started around 8 and it was chilly and it was warm when we ended.

hiking
17 days ago

Great and awesome.. there is a nice little spot at the end of the trail that had a whole world of frogs of different colors and sizes. The trail is beautiful and the river is a great spot for lunch and other activities. I’m definitely coming back!!

hiking
24 days ago

Thank you all for your reviews! We tried it today with our 3 kids & dog. Everyone had a great time!!

hiking
rocky
washed out
26 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

beautiful trail, there was a family playing their water with their dog and we had a few horses pass us and my son loved every second of it. very shaded and nice soft sand to walk on but I wish there were some better trail markers, there's some rocky slopes as well but nothing we encountered was too bad. would be a great spot to just come and play in the water without hiking as well

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
bugs
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Arrived at 8:30 a.m. with my dog. He was so excited, we hiked until 12. He played in the river, and ran up and down the trail. Go early and enjoy the shade, running water and melody of the forest. The trail is mostly flat terrain and 80% shaded. Be prepared to take your shoes off and enjoy the river.

hiking
1 month ago

Just to update on the previous posts: the parking lot is done and open as of 8/24 when I was there

hiking
1 month ago

more than you know.turn left instead of right on Sandia creek.then very soon is a parking lot .made for horses and such.big trail loops .wild life every where.bring pepper spray.and something load/ whistle.... anyway private swimming spots in the sun .await.

hiking
2 months ago

Easy trail following river. So cool and shaded if you keep going straight and not veer right up the slope. Keep going straight and you hit the river with all kinds of rocks and boulders and sandy beaches. Climb down to the water for a pic nic!

recorded Santa Margarita River Trail

hiking
closed
off trail
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Excellent, beautiful trail. Most of it is easy peasy, but their are a few rocky spots and small steep parts here and there. Many different areas to get down to the gentle river for a nice picnic. Great for both kids and dogs. Trail is sandy, but mostly packed sand, not super powdery and hard to get through. Some quick notes: 1. Parking lot is currently closed for re-grading (and maybe paving?). Pass the parking lot and bridge, hang a left at the T-intersection, staying on Sandia, and park there along the road. 2. It seemed to dead end at one point, but we realized we accidentally went down to the water when we were supposed to go up and around a small (but steep!) hill. 3. Start EARLY if you go in the summer because it’s darn hot by 11am. We started at 8:45am on a day when the daily high was 86 degrees, and just the last 30 min was too hot, almost all in sun. It’s super nice in the morning, but once the sun is higher, the shade is patchy and the trail gets hot and dusty in the sunny spots.

hiking
2 months ago

This is a great hike. Lots of views and pretty easy. As of now the parking lot is closed so trying to park is a pain.

hiking
scramble
2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful like always

hiking
3 months ago

If you start at A1 beware there is lots of loose sand and a few water crossings. Overall a good hike and pretty easy.

hiking
3 months ago

awesome short hike. lots of shade!

hiking
3 months ago

We loved this trail. Beautiful, lots of shade. Feels natural and away from roads. Adds more difficulty and a lot of distance if you cross the river at the end and keep going. However, there is no shade on that side. So, do it early.

hiking
3 months ago

Great trail with some beautiful views.

hiking
3 months ago

I really loved this hike! We took our two kids 9&11 and they loved it as well! We saw fellow hikers and they were so friendly! We saw all ages there! Tons of rocky, sandy and shady areas! Be prepared to explore! Will be going back soon!

running
3 months ago

nice trail, at times it's unclear which way main trail goes, great views

hiking
3 months ago

We really enjoy this one. It is our go to when we just want to get out of the house without actually planning something. My son is 4 and it’s enough up and down to keep him busy and happy but not so much that he wants me to carry him. There is always lots of friendly people as well.

hiking
3 months ago

Love, love love this trail. Approximately 2 miles in there is water where you and your dog can dip in to cool off. Usually there is not a lot of people on the trail however due to fixing it up it has become overpopulated which is a down fall for me. I do hike this trail at least once a month. If you look above there are always red tailed Hawks flying above. Throughout the whole trail you hear the beautiful sound of nature

hiking
4 months ago

Great trail! We only did half of it because we couldn't figure out how to cross the creek, but we asked the ranger in the parking lot when we got back and he showed us on the map for next time. . Definitely coming back to do the whole trail. Good for kids, the little one's might need help in the beginning it's a little rocky, but nothing to hard. We loved the sound of the water during our hike & lots of shade & a few benches if someone needs to rest.

hiking
4 months ago

It was lovely. A bit rocky and narrow at times but my pup and I loved it! Found a spot just off trail in the river and it was the best afternoon. The water was lovely and the people that came through were so friendly.

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