Sweetwater River Loop Trail

MODERATE 33 reviews

Sweetwater River Loop Trail is a 7.4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Descanso, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

7.4 miles
1,125 feet



horseback riding

nature trips

trail running



wild flowers


no dogs

1 month ago

hard walk, dont try this trail un the Summer, no river, no waterfall

4 months ago

Beautiful hike. But... tons of horse manure and as mentioned in other reviews ticks aplenty.

7 months ago

Nice little trail, close to my house. The first trail on the left is Dead Horse Trail, it takes you to a creek crossing at about .1 miles. The logs look pretty sturdy, but will probably sink when you step on them if you hike this trail after winter rains like I did (wet left foot for the rest of the hike). Its a nice little climb up the trail from there to a pass between two small peaks. After that, there are some nice meadows that would make a great spot to stop for lunch and possibly see some wildlife. Due to time restraints, I took the Saddle Back trail, which takes you to a second creek crossing which was much wider, but easier to negotiate. This trail intersected the Merigan Fire Rd after about 1.6 miles, after that its easy money back to the trailhead. I tracked my hike to about 7.68 miles. BTW, check for ticks! I came back with two.

8 months ago

Drove past the parking lot the first time. It's right after the school on the left-hand side. Saw a local who recommended we park across the street from the school for free instead of paying the $10 fee. She said the hike can be "strenuous" and can be dusty if a horse went before you in certain areas.

There were some steep areas but nothing too bad. However, my friend struggled a bit so it depends on your fitness level. We stayed on the fire road and looped to the right first. There was a fallen tree but otherwise maintained well. The river pass seemed impassable like the local warned us so we had to go further down, leap onto rocks across the river, and crawl under a fallen tree to get to the trail.

To just get to the river, take the first trail on the left (forgot name) off the fire road to make it a short trip.

11 months ago

Not as colorful as I️ like to see, but a good day hike. Leaves of three...let them be...when you get don to the lower elevations it was a bit wet and very green!

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

So the hike it's self is firm two stars - either overgrown and muddy or a fine powder sand full of fire ants and all on the same day. Bring good company or you'll hate your life. The river at the end makes it all worth it though - cool your feet and pick all burrs from all over your body! Enjoy!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

If you want to enjoy swimming at water hole, this place is good. We were planning to go for loop but water was blocking the trail, so we couldn't go. Also, many horse trekkings were ongoing and the road was soft and sandy. Not so good for hikers.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

great place. very green in late March not too many Ani.als although we did see a fox, turkey garter snake and mule deer a good day hiking with my brother Jeff

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

This is a very pretty moderate trail that you can get some miles in fairly easily. There are a few sustained hills but nothing gigantic. We were unprepared for the level of water right now and thus made in out and back of about 6 miles. The water level at the northern crossing was about waist deep and the southern crossing a bit lower.

Gorgeous views of boulders, the creek, waterfalls, prairies, etc.

Parking is $10 per vehicle, cash or check.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Good hike. Racked up 10.33 RT miles and 1,446 ft. elevation gain that included lower Green Valley Falls (added 1.8 RT miles). Crossed the ice river twice; the first about knee deep and the 2nd about waist/stomach deep. The 2nd crossing was a debate, we weren't sure how deep the crossing was, but we did it after throwing our hiking shoes over to the other side. A few parts of the trail we had to hike the muddy terrain, next to the flow of the river. Awesome view of Cuyamaca Peak.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

While the normally brown and dry San Diego mountains were very green with all of the precipitation the area has seen, making it very beautiful; the river was higher than we wanted to ford, so we had to turn back just a bit under half way. We'll try again in warmer climes and ready to cross a high stream.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

What an adventure! We went after a lot of rain so crossing the river wasn't easy but it wasn't dangerous. The landscape was ever changing from rocks to meadows to forest. The fee to park is now $10. Would definitely do this hike again.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Love this trail. The Saddleback portion is my favorite, especially in the spring.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hiked the Dead Horse trail on a cooler day and there is plenty of shade in the early morning. This ended up being just under 8 miles. Once the sun gets higher there is limited shade so I would recommend hiking on cooler days. The trail is narrow but easy to follow with great signage. There is a lot of foxtails encroaching on the path and I spent a bit of time getting those out of my socks. There is an $8 fee for parking if you don't have the Adventure Pass or Federal equivalent. Also there was a sign forbidding dogs on the trail at the trail head.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I used Francisco Leal trail. It was easy to follow and it also took me to Green Valley Falls even though there was no water but it was nice to see. I did a total of 10.4 miles. Be prepared to bring snacks and water because it took me 3:40. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Great trail with a variety of terrain.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Nice easy trail. Well maintained and easy to follow. Some steep inclines and declines so not really stroller acceptable. Limited shade in some portions so go early and bring water.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Beautiful, easy.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Beginning of trail near bridge needs a little clearing it's getting quite over grown and I have seen rattlesnakes there. I prefer to start it via the maintenance road to the right then catch up with it at the wooden bridge which is a nice option if you want to skip the over grown weeds. Trail gets pretty once you get to the water a few miles in.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Nice Hike! The first mile is pretty uneventful, but as you continue you see no houses and hear nothing, but silence. This is very peaceful place to go to if you need to simply unplug and get away from all of the distractions of life. I highly recommend this trail during the spring!

3 months ago

4 months ago

7 months ago

horseback riding
9 months ago

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Saturday, March 18, 2017

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