SummaryTrail GuideTopo MapReviewsPhotosGPS
Lower Doane Valley & Lower French Valley Trail Professional Review and Guide
"Unquestionably, the best time of day to make this hike is during the first two hours of daylight. In the early morning light, long shadows from the treetops stab across the pillowy meadows, then recede quickly as the sun gains altitude. Subtle shades of color come alive in the foliage as light from the blue sky mixes with golden-white sunlight. Silver dewdrops glisten on the blades of grass."
--Jerry Schad, Afoot & Afield: San Diego County (Wilderness Press).
We started this hike at the intersection of the nature trail right outside the back door from our campsite (spot 26 at Doane Valley Campground) and managed our way along the French Valley Trail until it intersected with the Weir Trail. With a bit of coaxing, my 7 and 9 year olds reluctantly took the 1/10 mile trek to the 'Historic Site' on the Weir, which turns out be a fantastic little wading pool and stone hydro building. We had a snack and finished up the trail with a mild elevation gain that led us right back to the nature trail and the pond where we turned left and made it back to the campsite. I estimate this to be about a 4 mile hike and the differences in terrain kept the kids interested the entire time. We climbed over giant fallen oaks that had seen some recent fire damage and had literally carried boulders suspended with their massive root systems and ate lunch in the middle of a giant meadow under a shaded tree on a rocky outcropping that had signs of Native American mortars carved into the rocks. A truly spectacular day and a doable hike for kids as long as you take the time to see the forest (and meadow) for the trees and bring lots of snacks and water. The trail is about 40% exposed but even midday August wasn't unbearable. Enjoy.
A stunning forested/meadow trail with a little history to boot. This is an easy 4 mile hike that takes you through forests, meadows, and ruins. The west side of the meadow as you start the hike is the least inspiring of the hike, but that is only in comparison the the rest, it to was beautiful. As you meet the fork that takes you on Doane Valley trail or on the Wier trail go ahead and go up the wier trail to see an old hydroelectric test dam from the 1920's then backtrack to the valley trail. This to me is where the real beauty is as you hike in the meadow you will be greeted with stunning rolling hills surrounded by forests. As you continue on this trail you will take the left fork onto the french valley trail which is less traveled and to me the highlight of the trip, continue on and go past the fork that will loop you back, it will take you over a small stream and eventually into a forested area that you can go a bit into before turning back, this section past the fork was everyones favorite part. Once you track back and get back on the French Valley tail (left fork) you will be greeted with some massive trees that are literally growing on top of huge boulders, this was the most interesting part of the trip. After than just continue on the trail till you get back to the parking area. We went ahead and looped the pond but really it wasn't work the 15 minutes it took us. I would recommend this trip to anyone visiting the area looking for a day hike (it does take a while to drive there and back to) so budget 5 - 6 hours for the hike starting from the 15fwy/76hwy junction. Oh and make sure you bring 8 dollars in cash so you can enter the park.
Sign in/up to upload photos.