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Secret Canyon Trail is a 14.7 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Alpine, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from November until April. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Length 14.7 mi Elevation gain 1,627 ft Route type Point to Point

Backpacking

Camping

Hiking

Horseback riding

Nature trips

Walking

Bird watching

Running

Forest

Views

Waterfall

Wildlife

Rocky

Waypoints (1)
Contact
Tips
  • 1

    Possible Camp Site

    32.77680, -116.62278

This hike requires an Adventure Pass which is $5/vehicle/day. No bikes. Water along this trail is limited and not potable so hikers need to pack in all of their water. This is not a good hike to do in the summer as it is too hot and there is no shade. There is no cell service on this trail, so please be prepared. The Secret Canyon trail makes for a great overnight backpacking trip. Starting from the Pine Creek trail head and descending to end at the Horsethief trail head makes for a moderate, but technical hike. Packing in water is a must. There are multiple creeks along the trail, some had water, but most don't. Also level camp sites are limited. Overall the trail is quite enjoyable.

The National Forest Adventure pass is required for parking at the Pine Creek trail head, and overnight camping requires a Wilderness Permit filed with the Descanso Ranger District. Wood or charcoal fires are prohibited.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (68)
Photos (300)
Recordings (55)
Completed (70)
Koenraad Van Braeckel
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 12 2020
Hiking

Did first 4 miles again with my toddler and it was perfect: lots of shade and opportunities to go down to the water and refresh.

Carl Steinbrecher
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Jun 06 2020
Hiking

Did just the start as rainy and overgrown trail. Looks really cool so will be back. Wear pants.

View Carl's Recording
Albert Najera
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFri May 29 2020
BackpackingBugsOver grownRocky

Our SOBO hike included two children, 7 & 9 years. Hindsight being 20-20 I should have pre-hiked the route. The trail is in serious need of service. It’s very overgrown and littered with loose rubble fallen from above. There are a lot of black biting flies. The overgrown brush conceals the rubble creating footing hazards. The brush including massive amounts of poison oak are waist high and above. Pushing your way through onto the unseen trail is not uncommon. Cell reception is sparse. The 9 year old planted his foot inches from a rattlesnake at a very narrow brush covered section. The kids were bitten all over by black flies. Gorgeous hike with plenty of water it’s just in need of serious trail maintenance.

View Albert's Recording
Carol Hainlin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon May 25 2020
HikingBugsFee

We hiked from parking lot to just under the freeway. Was about 4.5 miles. The flies are huge and they bite. Bring bug spray! I personally would not hike this in the summer. Gets very hot once you leave the shaded areas. NOT a flat hike. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous though.

Koenraad Van Braeckel
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed May 13 2020
Hiking

Did only first 4 miles, but was gorgeous. Perfect mix of shade, sun, and water. Beautiful, beautiful trail. Bit overgrown, but definitely ok with long pants.

Meredith Perry
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Apr 19 2020
Hiking

Trail is open again! 5/10/20

Kara Olivito
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSun Apr 05 2020
HikingOver grown

I started at horse thief and ran to route 8 and then back to my car. Total of 28 miles. This is a very fun route with beautiful scenery , but it is soo overgrown in spots. My legs are torn to bits. I went off track a few times at river crossings but was able to find my way quickly. The worst spots are mile 2.5 to about 6. The overgrown parts are especially cumbersome when going uphill.

Greg B.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Apr 04 2020
Hiking

Beautiful hike. Well worth the effort. The flora in the canyon is diverse and abundant. Be sure to look at the map as there is a water crossing in the first 200-300 yards. Otherwise you bushwhack into a dead end.

View Greg's Recording
Ashley Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarThu Apr 02 2020
Hiking

I started at the Pine Creek Trail head and it’s completely overgrown with huge downed trees. You’re suppose to cross the creek earlier on but since it’s beautifully flowing, that’s not possible. Took my dog, way too many thorny spots. Hopefully starting at the other end is better.

D Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Mar 16 2020

Definitely the best hike I've been on in San Diego. If you do the complete Secret Valley trail from Horse Thief trail head there total distance is over 16 miles. At the moment there is plenty of water flowing. The trail is awesome with many amazing views. Trail conditions are excellent with no real areas that you can miss the trail or get lost. You can easily spend all day here and not be bored. I do recommend driving two cars and leaving one a one trail head and driving the other car to the opposite trail head. We completed the 16 miles hike in a little over 7 hours.

Epifanio Salazar
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Mar 15 2020
Hiking

Long hike with different terrain never gets boring lots of water creeks along and shade too for the most part I will definitely go back again!

View Epifanio's Recording
Suellen Lynn
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Jan 12 2020
HikingNo shade

This is an easy, flat walk. Recommended for dog-walking.

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Chandel Harmer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Jul 09 2019
HikingOver grown
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James C
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSun May 05 2019
Running

Rough for trail running. Would not recommend it. First ten miles fox tails everywhere. Swam in creek mile 10. 10 to 15 miles trail hard to see overgrown. Poison Oak everywhere. Mile 15 swim hole. 15-16 mile nice running trail but all uphill. Ran North to South. In shorts, not good.

View James's Recording
Jacqueline M.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarTue Apr 16 2019

3/14/2019 Not one of my favorites! Trail is overgrown in several places, difficult to figure which way to go.

Jaycee Karl
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSat Apr 13 2019

÷

Erica Oberbauer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Aug 23 2018

Also I found a key on the trail! It's one of those more expensive type electronic keys.

Erica Oberbauer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 15 2018
Hiking

Very beautiful, but long. especially on a hot day. I hiked it yesterday w a friend and it was in the high 80s which was foolish on our part. We each brought plenty of water, but still ran out and the watering hole at the end was dry as a bone which was so disappointing especially being out of water. I don't know if i need to do this again until spring at least. Early spring when it's in the 70s!!!! Beware.

Marlena Jones
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Jul 14 2018
Hiking

I hiked this trail on a 90°+ day in late April. The scenery is beautiful. Even in a low rain year, there were a variety of flowers and flowering shrubs throughout the hike. The trail was overgrown in several places and poison oak as high as chest level was encountered along the way. If you hike it north to south, there is a rather steep incline on the last mile of the trail. Other than that, there's not major elevation gain/loss. Take plenty of water and electrolytes if you go on a hot day as much of the trail is exposed and there are no bailout points. Overall a beautiful hike best enjoyed on a cool day.

Gina Mitchell
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMon Feb 26 2018
Backpacking

Our first overnight backpacking trip and this was a fun one. Starting at the top made for an easier time since most of it was downhill into secret canyon. We camped at mile 6ish and it was not easy to find a spot. Honestly I would say there isn’t really anywhere to camp until about mile 10 or at mile 1.5. Start early day one and make it most of the way, it will make for a better camping location.

tim robertson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarTue Feb 13 2018
Backpacking

The Secret Canyon trail makes for a great overnight backpacking trip. Starting from the Pine Creek trail head and descending to end at the Horsethief trail head makes for a moderate, but technical hike. Packing in water is a must. There are multiple creeks along the trail, some had water, but most don't. Also level camp sites are limited. Overall the trail is quite enjoyable and I would absolutely recommend it.

Annaliese Ruthberg
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMon Jun 15 2020
Hiking
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Jonathan Kahn
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat May 30 2020
Hiking
View Jonathan's Recording
Grant Elliget
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun May 24 2020
Hiking
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Awesome H.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSat May 23 2020
Hiking
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Spencer Goodman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun May 17 2020
Hiking
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Channakhone Savatdy
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSat May 16 2020
Hiking
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