Valley of the Moon Trail

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Jacumba, California

Valley of the Moon Trail is a 7.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Jacumba, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from October until May. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 7.2 miles Elevation Gain: 1,223 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

ohv / off road driving

running

cave

views

wild flowers

rocky

Nestled within California's Jacumba Wilderness, just over a mile north of the U.S./Mexico border, lies a four-wheel-drive trail with some historical treasures waiting to be explored. Smugglers' Cave, reached by a short hiking trail, is a man-made shelter with ties to early 19th century Native Americans as well as Mexican banditos of the early 1900s. Today, it is a welcoming, shaded resting place for Mexican immigrants braving the trek to the United States. At the end of the trail is the abandoned Elliot Mine which sits atop Tahe Peak. Tahe Peak provides an astounding vista of the granitic rocky oasis known as Valley of the Moon Wilderness as well as views of the Salton Sea and Mexico.

hiking
5 hours ago

Love this trail for the wide open spaces views and cool rocks. Definitely many ORVs but they are always so nice! Recommended!

ohv/off road driving
rocky
1 month ago

This is a VERY unique place to off-road and camp. I want to start out by saying IF YOU ARE AN OFFROADING BEGINNER, do not try this trail. Many of the trails and paths require someone with intermediate knowledge for picking the correct driving line and transmission settings. There was evidence of a noobie who busted there oil pan on the rocks right when you get down into the entrance of the valley. But other than that it's a great place to Off Road during the day with friends and camp out at night and checkout the amazing star views. Another important note. This trail is literally 1000ft from the Mexico Border. and you can clearly see pathways that immigrants and others have taken across the border. A Local warned us about Drug Mules and other riff Raff that one might potentially encounter at night. we had zero issues but I would definitely recommend camping with a firearm just in case. Very few people were camping when we were so if the case is the same for you you'll be out there all on your own. Overall it's a great trail and camping location and I'm glad I went.

1 month ago

I hiked to Smugglers Den and then to the top of Elliot Mine and then back. I enjoyed the hike a lot, even though it was mostly uphill for the majority of it. It is beautiful out there with all the boulders and the view from top of Elliot Mine was phenomenal. The only real negative for me was that the area is mainly for offroading it seems so many times I had to step off the road and wait for some jeeps/suvs to go past. Everyone was friendly and waved as they passed so it wasn't really an issue just more of an annoyance for how often I had to do it. But I do plan on returning to finish the hike to the end and check out more of the area.

hiking
no shade
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Highly recommend. Our kids mentioned that they feel like they are in a Star Wars movie due to the various rock formations. The mine cave is a must see side trip. Being able to see/touch Mexico in one of the most remote parts of So-Cal is super cool. Lastly, the spring desert flowers are in full bloom from the recent rains. Not many people on this hike, so plenty safe with covid 19. Highly recommend this hike.

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

Had a great time! The trail is good. But getting off the trail to do some bouldering was the highlight of the day. Checking out the mines & watching the jeeps navigate some pretty rocky spots was cool too. And the kids loved walking over to border and reaching their hands over the barbed wire fence to touch a rock on the Mexico side of the border.

hiking
no shade
3 months ago

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

Nice trail, closed to the border, and possibility to climb.

hiking
rocky
4 months ago

Great hike steep 1st mile or so. Didn’t see any horses today

ohv/off road driving
4 months ago

Great trail, but you need lots of clearance, a spotter, and a rescue vehicle if you want to go the distance. Going solo with a spotter in a Jeep JKU with 4" lift and 35" tires, I almost topped out at Elliot Mine and Blue Angel, but couldn't do the last 1/2 mile of either one without a second vehicle to provide insurance if something went wrong. (Note: the trail indicated is a hiking path that is blocked by boulders about 1 - 1 1/2 mi short of the end of the VOTM.

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful day today! Started at V of the M and descended into many canyons. 14 miles and 11 1/2 hours of hiking.

scenic driving
off trail
rocky
6 months ago

ohv/off road driving
off trail
rocky
6 months ago

Wow, what a trail! Awesome views and a fun place to explore. I did it with a Tacoma, no lift and stock all-terrain tires. So yes, it can be done with a stock truck/Jeep BUT it would be a lot more fun if you had better clearance. (There were a couple of trails that I had to ride with a buddy that had better clearance and I just parked the truck). Things you need for sure: 1. 4x4 2. Gotta have people to help spot (even with lifted trucks). 3. The ability to air down and refill tires. 4. A camera to capture the adventure.

Great moonlit hike.

ohv/off road driving
7 months ago

The trail was pretty awesome. Like someone else said on their review, it really looks like your somewhere out of this world. A few really tricky spots. Went out there with my daughter in her 2012 Z71 Colorado and my 2001 Z71 Sierra. Stock height. Just some bigger tires. Bottomed our once but was very minimal. Do go out there with two vehicles just in case. Border patrol was super friendly. Definitely going out there again! So went out there again after lifting my daughters Colorado. We went around the whole trail. Started to the left of the mountain and made our way around. So amazing and so much fun. I made it with my stock Sierra Z71. I did bend my running boards but it was well worth it! Definitely need to lift my truck.

hiking
8 months ago

Awesome trail. Somewhat eerie. You really do feel like you’re on the moon, or perhaps another planet. Very windy at some spots. And at the top of peaks. Don’t need poles, but GPS is a must! Trails -or rather roads- lead in many different directions. Pay attention. Went on a Sunday and there were 7 or 8 jeeps and trucks 4x4ing up some steep roads that seemed impossible to traverse. Lots of exploring here. Got off the trail and climbed to the top of one of the peaks for an amazing 360 view of Mexico and the U.S. Clocked in just under 9 miles. Some steep inclines to start and up the peaks, but fairly flat for 5 miles of stomping through the moon’s craters!

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

This is a great hike; location is pretty remote; No one was on the trail with me. Tons of wildlife; my dog definitely took off after a jackrabbit (and had no chance obviously). With that in mind, I definitely had to pull some cactus Spurs from her paws ... so ensure your dogs recall is near perfect. The heat is no joke this time of year. If you’re not off the mountain by 10am, I wouldn’t attempt it. Though the morning shade is really nice. Border patrol is in full swing, so be mindful of their presence. I’m excited to go back and explore some more; this place I absolutely beautiful.

hiking
off trail
rocky
10 months ago

One of my absolute favorite places to explore in the area.

hiking
Sun May 19 2019

I've done this trail before, and its beautiful. the first mile or so is mostly either gravel or paved (cement/asphalt) uphill, so prepare to get an initial punch in the calves. aftetwards it's a much easier hilly dirt trail, easy to follow. i had to cut it short this time due to the heavy winds. So definitely watch for that in the weather. its easy to find, right off the hwy.

ohv/off road driving
Wed Mar 27 2019

Very fun and challenging for someone new to off roading. Definitely go with at least one other vehicle and people to help spot. Was able to get to Elliot Mine in a TRD Off Road 4Runner with stock suspension, 275 Ko2s and picking the right lines.

ohv/off road driving
no shade
rocky
Sat Mar 09 2019

Off-Roading: We came into this trail at the solar panel farm then skirted the border fence to enter the trail on the left. The loop we recorded features "The Waterfall" which is steep raged staircase that will require 4w low and even better if you have lockers or traction control. Spectacular views!

running
Wed Mar 06 2019

Loved this trail! Very runnable, with tons to stop and explore and take pictures of, and challenging enough that you have to hike some sections. But not so challenging that you’re hiking the whole time. Wish I had a backpack on with a water bladder so I could have done the whole thing! I did this in early March when weather was very temperate. Love love love!

Sun Nov 11 2018

Great view , en plena Rumorosa

hiking
Sun Jan 28 2018

Hiked this trail with my 12 year old son. The views were stunning. Trail was easily accessed and visible. We went to smugglers cave and explored the valley floor. We were grateful for the mostly downhill return. :)

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