Explore the most popular trails near Pauma Valley with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Pauma Valley, California Map
1 month ago

Beautiful destination and well worth the hike. Don’t be fooled by the rating this is an extremely steep trail and offers a challenge regardless of the distance. Didn’t see any fish unfortunately but that doesn’t mean they are not there.

1 month ago

Probably should be rated "challenging". We traveled in a counter clockwise direction. The uphill from Hell Creek is long and steep (about 1500 feet elevation gain) but well worth the effort for the magnificent view from the ridge. The down hill side has a lot of gravel and extremely steep sections.

At each intersection there is a trail map with an arrow showing exactly where you are. Bring plenty of water - even on a cool morning (under 60°) I went through 1.5 liters of water!

1 month ago

Pros: Easy parking, variety of trail options, not heavily trafficked, great views, dogs allowed on trail

Cons: Preserve opens at 8AM. We hiked starting at 8AM in December and finished by 12:30PM and it was hot. Easily drank almost 3L water.

Great hiking with amazing view.

We went up on a foggy day and, though we didn’t get the panoramic view at the top, the view all the way was gorgeous. Also, there isn’t any overhang in this trail so... either early in the mo ring or on an overcast day is the way to go I think to enjoy it in a comfortable temperature. Not too rocky. And the right amount of incline to be work but still be super enjoyable. I’ll definitely add this one to my “do again” list. *Note: it gets more “wild” and less manicured (which I prefer) once you pass the first trail fork. Oh! And I only saw 2 other people about 5 minutes from leaving the park. Nice and lightly trafficked.

6 months ago


on Pauma Creek Trail

6 months ago

It was an amazing experience. Definitely hard going down but fun going up. Recommend it to everyone! The creek it’s amazing once you finally make it to the goal (down).

Not much of a trail - overgrown and chossy. Poison oak growing every 3 feet or so. Road up is dirt and has a lot of potholes.

I hike 3-5 times a week and this hike was hard in the June heat, there is no shade for several hours. You need AT LEAST 5 liters of water. I had 3 and it was not enough. I would only recommend this hike in the winter. Also it was 9.6 miles for me without the viewpoints and according to the map I went the shortest loop.

11 months ago

Very very beautiful hiking. And hard.

11 months ago

This hike is a must-do for avid hikers. It’s lightly trafficked and the views at the top are amazing. The climb is pretty intense, and the footing is loose, so wear appropriate footwear. If you go out to both overlooks, the total distance will be closer to 10 miles. You may want to visit the Hellhole Canyon Preserve website before heading out as they are closed mid-week and part of the summer.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Loves the views! Not crowded at all maybe saw 6 people. I did get stung by a bee at the top. The decent was a little tricky with all the loose rock. Great workout.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Okay, this was a fun hike! There IS a 10 dollar fee for parking inside the state park. Which is unavoidable so just prepare to pay 10 bucks to hike here. There is absolutely ZERO CELL PHONE SERVICE. So please don’t go alone. Please stay on the trails and be careful. Don’t get lost. Open the trails app before you loose service going up the mountain. I found little spots of service , enough to at least open this app and figure out where we were. Now , this was a very fun hike . To be honest tho, the “waterfall” is a dam called Weir Dam Historical Site and it’s off the the side of this trail. It’s easy to find just follow the signs. Park at the Doane Pond lot next to the school up there, and you can pretty much hike to all the fun areas here . PLEASE BRING A LOT OF WATER, and FOOD. there is no place to buy food or snacks once you past the fork in the road next to the diner. There are a few water fountains around randomly but I’d still bring your own. Follow my advice and you all will have a fun time up in the mountains! Be safe and watch out for poison oak.

Friday, January 12, 2018

This was tough considering I had my 30-pound son on my back. Definitely bring at least 1.5 liters of water and some energy-loaded munchies. Viewpoint 1 is worthwhile, but Viewpoint was not. Unless you're looking for a good workout, forgo it. Bring sunscreen and save some energy for the ascent back to the staging area.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Started on the trail around 9:20. Nice and cool at the beginning by the time I got back it was up around 82 which isn’t bad, just made me thirsty, so bring about 1.5-2 liters of water with you. View from the top was great. Even with it being Sunday, there were only a few people on the trail and I think most of them were just in the canyon. Solid workout. The descent on the backside can get a little slick with all the loose rock so just watch yourself.

Did the exact loop listed and it came out at 8.3 miles in 3.5 hrs

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Great hike, not easy but, beautiful.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

The route listed is longer than 8.2 miles. I took the first shortcut coming down the mountain and it was exactly 8.2 miles. The ascent is difficult, mainly because parts of the trail are washed out and overgrown. The views at the top are amazing. I came on a weekend and there were very few people. There is water at the trailhead for horses and dogs. Make sure to pack plenty though, there is no shade and even in the winter, it can get warm.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

We did the Doane Valley loop, French Valley Loop and ended with the Weir trail, which brought us back to the parking lot near the entrance of the campground. We had a blast! The hike was amazingly kid-friendly (we had a 5 and 12 year old with us), but you do need to be able to identify poison oak, as it grows everywhere, and stinging nettle, if you go near the creek. There was a huge fallen tree that served as a playground for a nice break and the path was really well taken care of. We only saw a few other people (less than 10) so it was a nice quiet hike. There were open stretches, but also plenty of shaded hike areas, for balance. This was a great fall hike, but I can't wait to go back in the spring and see the tall grasses when they are green! I'll definitely do this hike again!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Been going here for years and recently visited in May 2017. Pauma Creek is a hidden gem in the North County, San Diego area and one of the most pristine and undisturbed mountain streams in Southern California.

Don't be fooled by how short this trail is. It is ridiculously steep, exposed to the sun most of the way, covered in poison oak, has loose footing from a 2008 forest fire, and if that isn't enough then there are the ticks, biting flies, and occasional rattlesnake that will gladly attack you along the way.

For those willing to brave the very unforgiving trail, there is a paradise waiting for you at the bottom. Pauma Creek flows year-round and plunges over 4,000ft down the canyon through a series of pools and waterfalls.

Love that we can drive an hour from busy crowded san diego to a pine tree forest. It's really like your in the Sierra's with smaller trees.

This is the perfect hike to escape all the hustle and bustle of the city. Beautiful, big trees like oaks and incense cedar. The sound of water flowing in the creek. You can't beat it. Great for kids of all ages.

Technically hiked lower Doane and French Valley, but can't locate it here.
Hiked on 5-13-17 with Pete , Tyler and Natti. One of the best hikes ever... with the trees, creeks and pond, this felt and looked more like Northern California than Southern.

went desperce camping out hear and fell in love with it saw some animal tracks but no animal and not another person it was peaceful.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

lots of beautiful trees. excellent for bird watching! Paying the day pass is $10. Will be back to go camping!

Felt like I was in the Sierra Nevada forest.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

An easy hike around the meadow that provides lots of photo opportunities. The North section of the trail that leads to a waterfall has been closed since 2014 with a barrier across the trail marking it out of bounds. Add a diversion from the loop and take the Weir Trail north where it intersects with the Lower Doane Trail and follow it to the Weir historic site (it ends at the site).

We were pestered by little flies the entire route, repellent didn't help. Other than that it's a perfect loop with a good mix of sun and shade. I'll be coming back to this one once the rains start up.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Be teleported to some place other than SOCAL with this hike...and the fallen1000 year old tree is something to behold.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Very leisurely and kind of short but the forest is truly incredible. The wetter northeastern facing side of the valley is filled with cedars, white firs, and Jeffrey pines while the sunny southwestern facing side boasts massive interior live oaks. It doesn't feel like Southern California at all.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pretty meadow!!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Nice walk and scenery thru the valley

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