Sweetwater River Loop Trail

moderate 54 reviews

Sweetwater River Loop Trail is a 7.4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Descanso, California that features a waterfall 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.

Distance: 7.4 miles Elevation Gain: 1,125 feet Route Type: Loop

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

bird watching

running

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

fee

no dogs

This trail requires river crossings to complete the loop (during wet seasons) $10 parking fee

hiking
1 month ago

Thoroughly enjoyed this hike. Trail was easy to follow. There was one water crossing which required me to remove my shoes. Moderate is an accurate rating in my opinion. Also, sidetracked a little and went down to see some of the falls I was hearing from the trail. Glad I did, very pretty.

hiking
1 month ago

I really liked it! It was a beautiful morning. Lots of green and water. Has an adventure crossing the river. No one got wet, we scouted to find the shallowest area to cross. Great hike!

hiking
bugs
fee
muddy
over grown
rocky
3 months ago

Bring a pen and 10 dollars in cash for parking. Make sure you are wearing pants, hiking boots (you will go through 2 rivers that are about foot to 2 ft deep), long sleeve shirt or a jacket. There are braches that will scratch your legs and arms up and the terrain varies from sand type to very rocky (kind in which you have to watch where you step). When you get parked and pay your fee, go through the gate and take a left and go past the house on your right. Keep going forward and you will start your adventure. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and bug repellent. Word of advice for newbies like me. Make sure you pay attention to the trails as you can get easily taken off your course. If you go for a sunset hike like we did make sure to bring flashlights and/or headlamps because it gets very dark out there at night and you can lose your way. Trail is marked but think it could be done better. Be smart and have fun out there! The views are amazing! There are horses on these trails as well so just be respectful.

hiking
over grown
rocky
7 months ago

hiking
bugs
over grown
rocky
scramble
washed out
10 months ago

I wouldn’t recommend for dogs, the trail is full of debris and looks like a lot of horses actually go through there. There’s horse shit every where. The waterfall is maybe 1.5 miles in and it’s nice, but not sure if it’s clean water since there are paintings on the rocks saying to “not swim” and “keep out”. No washing me’feet no. Lots of mosquitos too.

hiking
10 months ago

This is a good starters hike. Only two parts make it moderate or I would say its rated to high. If you bring a dog make sure they are in shape since it’s a lengthy hike and has two steep areas but other than that they will be fine. I don’t know if the trail is different or if I ended up going off trail but I ended at 8.5 it has some areas where branches are down and you have to go over or around.

recorded Recording - Mar 24, 05:35 PM

hiking
11 months ago

To complete the loop the river will need to be crossed twice. At this time the river was about a foot deep.

hiking
rocky
11 months ago

Just started doing the hiking thing about a month ago and my wife and I had a great time. The view and the scenery is great. It took us some time to finish the trail do to sight seeing and taking pictures. I recommend getting there early to avoid the heat.

Fri Aug 17 2018

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

hiking
Fri Jun 01 2018

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

hiking
Mon Mar 12 2018

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.

hiking
Thu Feb 01 2018

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.

hiking
Sun Nov 12 2017

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!

hiking
Tue Jun 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!

Sun 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.

Thu Mar 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

hiking
Tue Mar 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.

hiking
Tue Mar 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.

Tue Feb 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.

hiking
Tue Jan 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.

Wed Nov 23 2016

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

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