Sweetwater River Loop Trail is a 7.9 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Descanso, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and horses and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Length7.9 miElevation gain1,095 ftRoute typeLoop
HikingHorseback ridingRiverViewsWaterfallFeeNo dogs
Description
Waypoints (0)

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park charges a day-use fee of $10/vehicle. During wet months, this loop requires several creek crossings.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (121)
Photos (464)
Recordings (86)
Completed (317)
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Abhilasha Yadav
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Hiking

It's a great trail. we went clockwise loop.

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Pushpak Sarang
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Hiking

Carry $10 cash for parking. Hike is good for a morning workout. Not great for views or any summit. Dogs are not allowed. I carried spikes but there was no snow/ice. Waterfall There are two clearly marked waterfalls on AllTrails map. I suggest pinning them on your map/watch or keep an eye for it. Waterfalls are not clearly marked. The one farther from the trailhead sounded bigger (we missed it though). There is one closer from trailhead, I would say 0.3 miles from the bifurcation where the loop starts (go clockwise).

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Danielle Martinez
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HikingMuddy
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Rick Feria
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Hiking
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Trinh Tran
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HikingFeeNo shadeOff trail

Couldn't find the river through the end of the trail after 6 miles Fee $10

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Ava Pancamo
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Hiking

Accidentally went counter clockwise. Don’t recommend doing that. The trail is currently covered in snow that can get ankle deep. This trail kicked my butt but it has Beautiful views and no one is on the trail.

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Mr Baxter
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 21, 2021
HikingGreat!Rocky

Great trail! Be advised as mentioned before there is one area of poison oak/ivy. If you go to the fork in the trail and go down to Dead Horse Trail on the left, go about 0.1 miles and on the left was the poison oak down by the water. The leaves were pretty red and the classic 3 leaves in a “T”. Wear long pants and shirt. The brush is sharp in areas, save your skin. The views at the top of the trail is really nice, some would say romantic! Great hike I would recommend.

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Andrew Taylor
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HikingFeeGreat!Rocky

Pleasant trail with varying terrain. Took the extended detour to Green Valley Falls [nice but don’t expect too much] which was a nice resting and turnaround point. Added about 3-miles in total based on the AllTrails estimate of the mapped trail. I did the trail anti-clockwise and feel that was a good choice, the last part was uneven and a bit rocky in places but nothing to worry any confident hiker.

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Laura Marcial Miranda
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Hiking
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Elsa Davalos
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Hiking
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Kimberly Coble
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HikingGreat!

I loved this trail. First, if you just want to hike to the falls and back it’ll be around 2-2.25 miles round trip. How to get to the waterfall. Hike +/- .06 miles to the Y intersection and go right (counterclockwise) and hike another +/- .05 miles and look for a trail/wash on the left going down the embankment. You can hear the falls from the trail. I marked the entrance with a cairn but doesn’t mean it’ll stay there. I hiked counterclockwise and thought the views would’ve been better hiking clockwise. Both directions has ascents/descents thus working those legs and bum. Scenery is amazing.

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Grant McMillen
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Hiking

Great hike, but the trails aren’t marked clearly. Service is spotty, but check the map. The water fall is not on this trail, but a mile down a different path than the map. Nice swimming hole by the waterfalls

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Bryan Lorenz
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HikingGreat!

Great hike with a variety of scenery and terrain. The creek was easy to cross as we haven't had any recent rain. WEAR PANTS AND LONG SLEEVES. Trail is a bit overgrown and I got some poison oak despite being appropriately dressed so be aware.

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Knight Terror
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarDecember 13, 2020
Hiking

Amazing!! Counterclockwise is the way to go. A lot of brush so long pants and long sleeves are very useful. Although, must have went the wrong way do didnt see a waterfall.

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Debbie Gilday
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Hiking

This was a good workout Trail. Some good fall colors. The waterfall was nice and this was in November. I can’t wait to go back after some rain this winter. Easy trail to follow in my opinion. We only ran into two other groups the entire hike... on a Sunday. Pretty hike. We also went counter clockwise as suggested. Weather was perfect.

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Laura Blackburn
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Hiking

Waterfall was not visible from trail

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Aaron Bucka
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Hiking
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Ryan HalingWhite
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Hiking

Very hot out. Like others have mentioned, bring plenty of water. I hiked this trail a few weeks ago and there were tons of bees and the river was still flowing. Today the water was mostly dried up with some ponds left. As for the bees, many of the plants have dried up so not as many bees. Overall a great hike, that's why I came back and will again.

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Kristi Calderon
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Hiking

Start very very very early !!!!! The trail itself wasn’t hard but it got really really hot . Bring a lot of water , and if you think should I bring more ,yes ! Walked 6.5 miles got to the top of the loop and couldn’t make it . Had to call for help . We were 3 adults, 4 teens , one child . Everyone gave up . And we couldn’t find where people said go counter clockwise ! And the water belongs to green river not Sweetwater !!! So if you want a short 5 min walk to the water look up greenwater !!!

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Carie Long
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 13, 2020
Hiking

Nice trail, especially if you go counter clockwise. A couple of water crossings and some easily to miss turns but if you’re checking against GPS you should be fine.

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Claire Nguyen
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Hiking

Not well marked. Start early Bc it can get really hot.

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Chase Adame
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Hiking

Great hike. I very much suggest take the trail counter clockwise like most people suggest. So you can take a dip at the falls. A little warm during this time of year, so bring plenty of water, and sunscreen. A little bugs on the trail, but nothing to crazy. Decent elevation climb, nothing to hard to handle.

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Kristina Hill
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Hiking

love this trail so much! I agree with previous reviews, if you want to save the waterfall for the end start the loop to the right and go counter-clockwise. this also saves the biggest decline for the end which is nice as it gets hot quickly out there. There is a nice amount of shade on the first half of the loop. beautiful views, especially as you climb. You can catch a side trail about halfway to the green valley falls which will add on .8mi each way, a fun detour (didn't do that this time). As you come almost all the way back to close the loop, you'll come to a fork...to the right will be a water crossing...to the left is a trail...that trail takes you to the waterfall & watering hole. if you cross the water crossing and continue on you'll finish the hike. some parts of the trail are wide and we'll maintained, others are slightly overgrown and rocky..lots of fun! there were a lot of bees and flies, recommend bug spray or dryer sheets. bring A LOT of WATER/GATORADE!

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Hunter Bowen
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HikingBugsOff trailOver grownPrivate propertyRocky

Okay, this hike was a lot of fun but also not. The trailheads are NOT marked sweetwaterriver loop. You WILL get lost or on private property EASILY!! Please take my advice and if you want to save the sweetwater waterfall for last go right and then follow the trail. You have the choice of going right to green valley falls (which we did Cuz we were hot and knew that was only 1 mile away) after that we decided to “finish” the loop and head to the other fall. That’s where things got messed up. You will easily want to keep going straight , DONT that’s the fire road. But DONT go to the “park boundary” trail. It will take you into very overgrown and private property. Go on DEAD HORSE trail and follow it all the way down about 3 miles and you will end up hearing the water and be able to find the falls. After that you’ll need to hike up about half a mile and you’ll see the parking lot! You have the choice to go down this FIRST. But it gets hot and I wouldn’t recommend it. But the mistake was an extra mile and a half. So overall our day was over 10 miles. Be careful. It’s very overgrown and hot!

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