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Thunder Spring Trail is a 3.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Aguanga, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 3.6 miles Elevation Gain: 764 feet Route Type: Loop

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

forest

views

wild flowers

bugs

no dogs

Take the 76 east and follow the signs to get to Palomar Mountain and once you get to the top, follow the signs to the State Park. Once inside the park, follow the signs to the parking lot by Doane's Pond. The trail starts there.

recorded Thunder Spring Trail

hiking
bugs
over grown
2 days ago

Thank you AllTrails and the loyal reviewers. Your tips were very helpful and so, so on-point! 1. Bugs, bugs and more bugs!!!!! Bug spray barely kept them at arms-length. Even with long sleeves and pants, still managed to get a few welts from bites! :-( Relentless!!! And they do get into your face- eyes, mouth and ears. I know it sounds terrible but I would rather know ahead of time and be prepared than offer those buggers a free buffet. 2. Definitely lots of poison oak. Keep your hands up when the trail gets narrow/overgrown to avoid getting those oils on you. 3. Tough climb (especially for the kiddos) in about a dozen instances. Maybe starting the loop counterclockwise would be less harrowing. 4. Thank goodness (again) for AllTrails. Lots of side trails; easy to get off track. Check your map to make sure you didn’t veer off. 5. Otherwise, beautiful greenery, plenty of shade and lots of birds. Cute little pond- didn’t realize you can fish there too!

hiking
bugs
fee
10 days ago

As a beginner hiker, I would rate this at a three - but not because of the trail or the scenery - It was those gnats and biting black flies that were atrocious. I suggest if you go in summer - wear long sleeves and insect repellent. Glasses are must even in the shade as those suckers fly right at your breath. We left out at 745am and parked at the first Day Use parking right near the entrance - getting to the trail was not difficult as we scrambled down an inclined ratty trail (shown on the map as the .03 from the bathroom near the road) Once on the trail we headed to the left (which was down) and there was a TON of Poison Oak along both side - this was true the entire hike. It is a single person wide trail the majority of the way, either going up or going down - not much on the flat. It was beautiful in and amongst the shady tall pine and large old oaks. It was shady most of the hike. The trail rounded a small pond and there he gnats were in large swarms, but there is a trail to avoid most of the pond if you want to skip it. Because we chose the "Down" avenue to start, the return side of the trip was predominately UP! Overall it was a good hike for the exercise, but a lousy hike for the BUGS! We have been up to Mt. Palomar and done another hike earlier in the year when everything was green and damp - I liked it then much better - there were no bugs!

hiking
bugs
15 days ago

hiking
bugs
26 days ago

Nice little hike that's great for kids. Agree with one of the recent posts about it being longer than 3.6 miles- From the parking lot back to the parking lot we clocked it at 4 miles for the entire loop. There is a restroom near the parking lot but we did not enter. Lots and lots of bugs (might just be seasonal) so definitely recommend some sort of spray or even a net, we wore our face masks mainly to not swallow bugs. Elevation gain is gradual in the beginning section but the last mile of the loop, once passed the Scott's Cabin area, the descent can be steep in spots, nothing to worry abut just be mindful and take it cautiously. Some poison oak in areas so be careful if you wear shorts. Overall a nice little morning/afternoon hike. Trail is easy to follow. There are different intersections that lead to different places, but if you use Alltrails, it will keep you on the right path.

hiking
bugs
26 days ago

Beautiful first half, exposed in some parts on the second half. We hiked this trail June 10, and it was BUGGY! Lots of butterflies and birds but a lot of bugs (flies and mosquitos would follow us most of the time). Most of the trail is shaded with a breeze blowing through the trees. The breeze made the temp drop nicely on a hot day (85-90 degrees). I highly recommend bug spray and sun screen during sunny days. The park allows fishing as well at the pond near the entrance of the trail. Beautiful and quiet views throughout.

hiking
fee
29 days ago

Great trail. So much green and a lot of shade. The elevation gain isn’t too bad and has a couple of switchbacks. $10 Fee per vehicle. Parking lot not open at full capacity. Definitely recommend. It’s says hike it’s 3.6 miles but my watch said it was 4.2.

hiking
bugs
scramble
1 month ago

got lost for a second, not sure how we missed the trail. Bring bug spray for an easier time, we went during the day but I bet it’s very pretty early morning or sundown

hiking
1 month ago

Loved it, longer than we thought, but worth it. Narrow paths in some places.

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful view, no intense sunshine. Soothing mix of water pool and trees. Went in February but can still see spots covered by snow. The whole trail is pretty chill and even poetic. Recommend hiking on the morning to enjoy the wonderful effect of sunshine among the branches.

hiking
4 months ago

Pay $10 for entering Palmar State Park. Nice trail in the forest, lots of shade. Some fallen trees on the way make it a bit hard to navigate.

hiking
fee
over grown
6 months ago

Nice hike out and saw a few deers. Not many view points. This loop is a combination of ceder, chimney flats, and thunder spring trails. Quite a few spots on the thunder spring trail were blocked by fallen trees and can be hard to navigate when it’s dark. If you’re starting this trail near sunset, consider hiking clockwise.

walking
8 months ago

Beautiful trail. Lots of poison oak so stay on trail. Pack in, pack out. This place is nice for a picnic

hiking
over grown
10 months ago

hiking
Sat May 04 2019

Great hike with amazing hiking buddies. Started easy to moderate with good inclines.

hiking
Sun Mar 03 2019

Trail was about 4 miles. Not too rocky but some steep spots. Overall moderate hike that has beautiful woodsy views

Sat Jan 19 2019

Nice little trail to see a bit of Palomar Mountain.

hiking
Sun Jan 06 2019

beautiful trail best trail I've ever been to in California, however they do not allow Doggos on the trails.

hiking
Mon Oct 29 2018

Oct 28, 2018. We hiked today with kids 10, 11, and 13yo. It was a wonderful experience! We started around 4pm and finished 6:15pm. Taking a lot of pics is what slowed us down. Next time we will hike in the morning :)

hiking
Mon Oct 29 2018

nice good hiking area...there's a $10 parking fee and the office accepts card if its open.

hiking
Fri Jun 01 2018

We went 5/31/2018. I loved it. It's beautiful like all the photos. There were a couple of streams. It's very green. Surprisingly barely any poison oak/ivy/sumac. Lots of bugs, though. The trail was pretty well maintained except the Scott's Cabin Trail was pretty overgrown. It's ten bucks to park and they take cash and checks, but no cards. The closest ATM is inthe General Store 2 1/2 miles from the ranger station. I'm pretty sure the trail is longer than the description. We followed the map really closely and our All Trails recorder and my FitBit showed 4.5 miles not 3.6.

hiking
Wed Mar 28 2018

Stumbled on this trail, it’s moderate but beautiful and the two mile loop completed was great!

Mon Feb 12 2018

great loop hike, spectacular views to the west at the top of the hike

hiking
Wed Oct 25 2017

Nice trail decent elevation changes, but nothing to tough. The occasional felled tree on and next to the trail.

hiking
Wed May 24 2017

beautiful scenic hike but the hilly section just before/just after Scott's Cabin is completely overgrown with wild lilac and impassable. there are also several downed trees along that route and the Cedar trail headed back towards the pond.

hiking
Sun Sep 18 2016

There's not much scenery on the Thunder Springs and Chimney Flats trails, it picks up a little once you transition to Scott's Cabin Trail. The loop is mostly either uphill or downhill and can be a bit of a cardio workout. There's sections that will be difficult for small children or the out of shape. Cell phone reception cuts out around the halfway point. We spotted deer, chipmunks and a good variety of birds doing this loop. While pretty it isn't as impressive as the other trails this park offers.

Mon Jun 13 2016

This was a really nice trail to hike with my family, we saw a deer, peacocks, and for a grand finale my daughters almost stepped on a rattlesnake

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