Trail work reports archive

11/3-11/4 Agua Tibia

Posted by Scott Crellin on Monday, November 5, 2012

The adventure began early on Friday morning when Dave Capron and I met up with Ranger Fred at the Dripping Springs campground, about 10 miles east of Temecula.  Also at the meeting point were Dean and Bianca.  Bianca, by the way, is a Forest Service employee, who cheerfully got out from behind her desk to lend a hand.  We rode with Fred through some private land holdings in order to access the Wildhorse Trail, near its junction with Crosley Road, on the eastern edge of the Agua Tibia wilderness.  From there, we started hiking uphill to the west on the Crosley trail, at which point I concluded that I might have over packed just a teensy bit.....
It was a lovely morning.  About a half mile south of the Crosley Saddle, we spotted the spring which had been deepened and improved by Fred and his crew over the summer.  It still had plenty of water, which could be used for anyone doing the entire Dripping Springs/Wildhorse loop.  From the saddle, we headed north on the Palomar-Magee trail, a remnant of the old Palomar Magee truck trail, which at one time descended from the top of Palomar Mountain down into Pauma Valley.  Some of you may recall that Capron, Ken McIntyre, Howard Wiggins and myself had worked on this trail with Fred back in the spring (see the dramatic before and after photos at  Since then, Fred has lead other crews further north along this trail.
Eventually, we arrived at our camping spot, near the junction of the Palomar-Magee trail and the Dripping Springs trail.  This area had not burned in the various fires and thus had a group of old oak trees.  And where you have lots of oak trees, you have lots of oak leaves.  Like a foot deep!  This made for a very comfortable surface for sleeping.
After lunch, we hiked further north and downhill on the DS trail to the point where previous trail work had ended.  We started lopping, sawing and tossing brush with great vigor.  Fred, Cappy and I wielded the loppers while Bianca and Dean were right on our heels tossing the cuttings.  Those of you who have been out with us on trail work know that it's quite an accomplishment for two swampers to keep pace with three loppers.  Then, it was back up the hill for happy hour at the campsite (a potent combination of single malt, craft beer and Dave's magical tequila) and a short stroll to watch the sunset.  And once the sun set, the temperature fell fast.  After dinner, it was an early night for everyone.
Saturday morning came with a glorious sunset and then breakfast.  We headed back down the hill to resume trail work.  In the mid-afternoon, Ed and Caitlin arrived, having hiked up from Dripping Springs.  They continued on to the campsite while the rest of the crew continued working until late afternoon, and then it was time to slog back up the hill to our campsite.  After a short rest and an abbreviated happy hour, most of the crew hiked back south on the Palomar-Magee trail to pick up extra water and catch the sunset from a new vantage point.  Yours truly decided to kick back and read a book.  About 7:00 the hikers returned and Fred started cooking up his Saturday night taco fest.  We had dinner under a beautiful star-lit sky, accompanied by various adult beverages.
Sunday morning, we had breakfast, broke camp and again headed down the hill.  We finished up another section of trail, up to the point where the foliage dramatically changed within a few yards from scrub oak/ceanothus to lower elevation chapparal.  From there, it was about a 5 mile hike back to Dripping Springs and our vehicles.  Then it was time to hit the road, in anticipation of a much needed shower.  I wonder why we look so much cleaner in the photos than we really were.....
I encourage everyone to get out and hike or run some of all the Dripping Springs/Crosley/Wildhorse loop.  The entire loop is about 22 miles (longer than the "official" distance of about 20).  The elevation gain from the DS trailhead to DS peak is about 2,500 feet so it's certainly a worthwhile challenge.  Depending on the weather and location, you'll get a panorama of views from downtown San Diego (yes, I've seen it myself!), to Palomar Observatory, San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, the San Gabriels, the Santa Rosas, etc.  The more people who use the trail, the longer it will stay open.  I know Temecula seems like a long ways away, but from my old house in Hillcrest, I could get to the trailhead in about an hour and ten minutes.  So, check out the Agua Tibia wilderness for your next training run.  I think you'll enjoy it.

Many thanks to Fred for hauling a water stash for the group and for arranging for the backpacking trip.  Thanks to the rest of the crew for their hard work. 

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