Arroyo Seco and Airplane Monument Loop Trail

Descanso, California 91916

Arroyo Seco and Airplane Monument Loop Trail

Arroyo Seco & Airplane Monument Loop Trail Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"One option is to carry your overnight gear along this route and stay at Arroyo Seco Primitive Camp; if you decide to do this, you must park your car overnight at Green Valley Campground and make that your starting point. Bracken fern, sword fern, thimbleberry, and wild strawberry thrive in the shade of oaks and sycamores along the creek bottom. The water merely dribbles from cracks in the bedrock, but nearby are some flat rocks to rest upon in a shady spot."

Arroyo Seco & Airplane Monument Loop Trail Trip Reports

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We hit the trailhead this morning at about 8:00am. It was cold (low 50's) and we were a bit unprepared, but it quickly warmed up as much of the trail is exposed to the sun. As we hiked along side the creek on Japacha Fire Road, we happened to come across a fresh Mtn Lion poop in the middle of the road. This made us a bit uneasy but we continued on and i was glad we did. There were some great views to be had, and we took many pictures. It was pretty cool to check out Airplane Monument. One of the main reasons we did this hike was to check out the Arroyo Seco primitive campground. We had been talking about packing in to this camp in the near future and good thing we didn't, because it was closed. It was very overgrown and the water spicket was not working. The Ranger at Green Valley Campground told us it wouldn't open until the bathrooms were finished, and that they were being completed by volunteers. Apparently these volunteers don't hang doors because that was about all that was left. That and setting the two pit style toilets in place.

All in all it was a good hike but i was glad to be back at the car as the weather went from 50 to almost 90 in 3.5 hours.
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Having been a bit disappointed in the local hiking around San Diego County and nearby, I was overjoyed to "discover" this lovely trail by happenstance on It sounded like a good one from the description, and seeing as few other trails are not deuded of trees from the fires and urban encroachment, I gave it a shot. The routing of this trail keeps the hiker on treadway more suited to foot traffic and limits the use of fire roads to a large extent. Taking the trail in the direction advised by the trail guide, it was about as perfect as a hike can be of this duration and elevation gain. The fliers monument stands as a memory to those who pioneered the industry as we know it today, and the views from the upper ridge portion of the trail traverse are about as fulfilling as anywhere I have been. I did it on a rather cold late April morning (avg was a comfortable 58 with a wind), which perhaps made it a bit more invigorating than later in the summer, even so, the trail moves in and out of shaded areas which these remaining stands bear mute testimony of the utter destruction of the fires this decade. This is one of the finest hikes I have taken in the area. Even though the parking area was rather well used on a Sunday, I only saw two others on horse back, outside of that, I could have been hundreds of miles into the back country. It was about as perfect as it can get in this area. If you have some energy and want a real threading path type of hike, this is the one for you.

Arroyo Seco & Airplane Monument Loop Trail Photos

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Trail Information

Nearby City
1,200 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
4 hours
September through May
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
Local Contacts
USGS Cuyamaca Peak
Local Maps