Sweetwater Trail

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, California

Elevation Gain456ft
Trailhead Elevation3,683ft
Elevation Min/Max3683/3832ft
Elevation Start/End3683/3683ft

Sweetwater Trail

Sweetwater Trail is a hiking and horse trail in San Diego County, California. It is within Cuyamaca Mountain State Wilderness and Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. It is 1.2 miles long and begins at 3,683 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 2.3 miles with a total elevation gain of 456 feet. This trail connects with the following: Merigan Fire Road, South Boundary Fire Road and Saddleback Trail.

Sweetwater Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Afoot & Afield: San Diego County (Wilderness Press)
Jerry Schad
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"Fed by countless ravines and rivulets on the slopes of the Cuyamaca Mountains, the Sweetwater River eventually becomes a watercourse worthy of the name river—albeit a sometimes-seasonal one. Below Green Valley Campground and Green Valley Falls, the sweet, bubbling liquid slides placidly down a pleasant little gorge shaded by alders and willows. For years there were attempts to introduce beaver along this stretch of the river, so look for evidence in the form of dams made from willow saplings and mud."

Sweetwater Trail Trip Reports

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This is a really good hike. Its only about 45 minutes away from San Diego. My boyfriend and I went during the week and it was very quiet. We only encountered 3 horseback riders and they were on Merigan Fire road in the first 2 miles of our hike.
All of the trails are pretty clearly marked with distances and all. Merigan fire road is easy and wide. The Saddleback trail is a little tougher to get through. The trail is still pretty obvious but the underbrush and grasses on the side of have grown into the trail a bit. CHECK FOR TICKS after leaving the saddleback trail. I found 6 on my boyfriend. So light bushwacking for a bit but don't worry the rest of the loop is pretty clear.
You will have to cross the Sweetwater river twice if following the loop. I'm assuming this is seasonal but if it has rained recently expect to either precariously cross on logs like we did or get wet which happened even waterproof hiking boots...it can be deep in parts.
Overall a great hike. Saw lots of lizards, birds, and a few deer. Great wildflowers and decent scenery and the relaxing sound of the river comes and goes as you hike about.
Will be doing this hike again! Would be 5 stars but 4 because of the light bushwhacking and really because of the ticks.
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Great hike with lots to see. We took it further up to the Green Valley Camp ground. The Falls and the spring pools were wonderfull for cooling down. We did this trail a little differently in that on the way back down the Green Valley Fire RD I took the what I believe was the South Boundry Fire Rd up to the California Hikers trail past Saddleback Trail to Dead Horse Trail and then took Dead Horse down back to my starting point. It was a bit hard especially since it was 90 + with 80 percent humidity. We completed in Four hours. If you go at this time of year bring Gatorade and water.

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Trail Information

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
Nearby City
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
Local Contacts
USGS Cuyamaca Peak
Local Maps

Trail Log