SummaryTrail GuideTopo MapReviewsPhotosGPS
Agua Tibia Loop Trail Professional Review and Guide
"The completion of the Wild Horse Trail in 1992 made it possible to execute a long, looping course around a good fraction of the entire Agua Tibia Wilderness area. Unless you’re a real speed demon—two hikers did indeed speed along the route in one day in 2006—plan this as a two-day backpack trip, with an overnight stay amid the oaks and pines of Agua Tibia Mountain. Navigational difficulties may be encountered at any spot where trees have fallen across the trail or, more commonly, where thick brush encroaches."
--Jerry Schad, Afoot & Afield: San Diego County (Wilderness Press).
My group and I did this loop hike as a one night backpacking trip. We started by going up the Dripping Springs Trail which was in pretty good shape and easy to follow. This part of the trail gains elevation pretty quickly but we were fresh so it wasn't bad. At roughly 6.8 miles we hit the Magee-Palomar Trail, at this point the trail became very overgrown and there was a lot of downfall that we had to navigate around. One guide we read said that there was ample camp sites along this portion of the trail but we found it pretty difficult to find a clear spot big enough for a tent. We ended up pitching the tent right on the old road the trail follows at about the 9.5 mile mark. This portion of the trail near peak number 4329 also had numerous poison oak plants that we had to skirt around so watch out if you go that far. The next morning we quickly descended to Crosley Saddle and turned onto the Wild Horse Trail heading Northeast. From here the trail was relatively easy to follow but brush was encroaching on the trail so much that I would recommend a long sleeve shirt and long pants for any hikers. The last few miles around Wild Horse Peak and along Arroyo Seco Creek is pretty easy but we did run into a couple of big rattlesnakes that we gave plenty of room for.
All in all it was a pretty enjoyable hike with some great scenic views of the surrounding area, just beware of the poison oak, rattlesnakes, and lots of overgrown bushes on the trail.
This is a long one for a one day hike but it's worth it. I went up Dripping Springs trail to the Magee Palomar Trail and back down to the start on the Wild Horse/Crosley Trail.
The view of Vail Lake on the way up is awesome and the trail overall is in good condition. The challenging part is when you arrive at the Palomar Magee trail. It's a little bit overgrown (although most of the time it's wide and easy to know which way to go), has steep descents and is very rocky. I think I missed the turn you are supposed to take at the Crosely Saddle but I nevertheless went the correct way.
When you arrive at the road that provides private access to a small private-property parcel (to the left), go straight across the road through the burned out brush. There is trail there and the one you want! From there, the trail description is accurate. It heads back to the start but it indirectly meanders around the slope of the hillsides. It's not tedious at first but after a few hours, it creeps in - but give this one a try.
Sign in/up to upload photos.