Hiking the Dripping Springs Trail

Dripping Springs Trailhead

Great views of the "Big Four" peaks to the north in San Diego. The best cardiovascular workout close to Fallbrook and Temecula. Distance: 12.8 miles. Elevation gain: 3200 ft.

The trail immediately begins to climb out of the campground on a well-graded incline. The next mile contains some climbing leading to a set of switchbacks. A long strenuous climb ensues until the 3200' elevation is reached. The trail then makes an easy southward traverse to the basin before resuming a climb to the southwest. A ridge ascent leads to another traverse and the crossing of the only potential water along the trail (seasonal). After crossing the drainage, a short set of stacked switchbacks is climbed leading to a climbing traverse to the trail terminus on the northwest ridge of Agua Tibia Mountain. This is the junction with the Palomar-Magee Trail and occurs in a nice oak grove, suitable for setting up camp if you have the right equipment (and a backcountry permit).

Get great views of the "Big Four" peaks to the north: Santiago Peak, Mt. Baldy, San Gorgonio, and San Jacinto, as well as High Point and the 200" telescope on Palomar Mountain, nearly all the time.

By the way, the namesake for the trail and campground is not found on the trail or at the campground. The Dripping Springs are found below the campground on the north side of SR-79, 1.11 miles away.

Photos: pdpolena, pdpolena

Pack List

  • Water (bring extra depending on the weather)
  • Good hiking shoes
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Snacks
  • Sunblock
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
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RT Distance 12.8 Miles
Elevation Gain 3200 Feet
Activities Photography, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Autumn, Winter
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Forest
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Switchbacks On Switchbacks & Great Views!

Like she said, great spot for a solid cardiovascular workout. I crossed multiple ultra-marathon runners training on this route. Great use of switchbacks allowing for a gradual elevation climb without any huffing or puffing, making the hike overall pretty gentle on the legs. Just before the trail changed into Paloma's trail to the east there's a nice little opening in the forest where you can relax, or power nap before heading back down. Great views all around. Would definitely like to the full 30+ mile loop one of these weekends.

Bring plenty of water! There's hardly any shade on this baby.


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