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See the Retired Peak Guides in the Archives for Microsoft Word and other versions of this peak guide.

31A

Eagle Crag

5077'

Location: San Diego County, 13 miles southeast of Temecula, 112 miles from Los Angeles

Maps

Auto Club: San Diego County
Forest Service: Cleveland National Forest
USGS Topo: Vail Lake 7½, Boucher Hill 7½, Aguanga 7½
HPS (updated): National Geographic Topo!
HPS (old version): Route(s), waypoints and explanation of usage

Printable version of this route

ROUTE 1

(USFS Adventure Pass required)
Distance: 18 miles round trip on trail, road, and cross-country
Gain: 4200' total, 2700' out plus 1500' on return
Time: 9-10 hours round trip
Rating: Class 1, strenuous
Navigation: Intermediate
Leader Rating: "I", normal conditions

Original: Alan Coles, 1986

DRIVING ROUTE 1

  • Take I-15 south to Temecula.
  • Take the South SR 79 exit. This is the second of two SR 79 exits. It says 79 South. Please make sure you have enough gas. There are plenty of gas stations along SR 79 for the 2 miles or so.
  • Continue south on SR 79 to Aguanga (junction with SR 371). This is about 18.2 miles east of Temecula.
  • Continue southeast on SR 79 for 0.4 mile to Palomar Divide Truck Trail on the right. There is now a sign that says Rancho California RV Resort. The road is labeled 8S05. Turn right on to this road. Note your odometer and go as follows:
  • At 0.4 mile, fork with a dirt road (Palomar Divide Truck Trail). Go left.
  • At 3.1 miles, seasonal gate.
  • At 5.4 miles, saddle with parking space for several cars and the (signed) Cutca Valley trailhead. Park here.

HIKING ROUTE 1

  • From the parking area (3794'), hike about 0.6 mile down the Cutca Valley Trail (1E01) into Cottonwood Canyon. Cross a stream.
  • About a mile from the trailhead, the trail reaches a small saddle and becomes a road. The road continues across Section 16 and into the southern part of Section 17, staying between 3400' and 3600'. It joins the Cutca Truck Trail at the boundary of Section 17 at a sign "Cutca Truck Trail" and "2.3 Section 16". (This is about 2 hours at a moderate pace from the parking area).
  • Turn right (north) on the road, cross a stream after about 50 meters, then continue about a mile, where there is a sign "Trail" on the left. The trail is shown on the topo.
  • Turn left and follow this trail up a canyon and into the Aqua Tibia Wilderness, past a saddle at 4200', and to a junction with the Palomar Divide Truck Trail (2W01) at 4720'.
  • Turn right (west) and follow the road about 300 meters to an obvious gully on the left.
  • The gully may have a duck; if not, please place one. Leave the road here and go up the gully staying in trees to the left as much as possible to avoid brush. Continue up to where the gully divides, and take the right (west) fork or the center ridge staying above and close to the right fork, finding the most open path possible, to the top of the ridge where a long clearing (old firebreak) through manzanita leads to a saddle, then work your way through thick manzanita to the summit. The register can is located on the rocks just south of the high point.
  • Note: Eagle Crag is not the highest point on the ridge.

SPECIAL CONDITIONS

The gate at 3.1 miles from SR 79 is a "red gate", meaning that it is open except for major problems such as a washout. For information about this gate, contact the Forest Service Station at Oak Grove at: (951) 767-9144.

Driving this road is not advisable when wet, due to the adobe surface, which turns to a slippery quagmire, together with the slope of the roadbed toward the canyon.

There is a lot of poison oak. Also, seasonal tick blooms have been observed in the area. Light-colored clothing and frequent inspections are recommended.


Printable version of this route

ROUTE 2

(USFS Adventure Pass required)
Distance: 26 miles round trip on trail, road, and cross-country
Gain: 4900' total, 4200' out plus 700' on return
Time: 11-12 hours round trip
Rating: Class 1, very strenuous
Navigation: Intermediate
Leader Rating: "I", normal conditions

Original: Alan Coles, February 1994

DRIVING ROUTE 2

  • Take I-15 south to Temecula.
  • Go east on SR 79 (this is the second SR 79 exit) for about 10 miles, cross a narrow bridge and turn right to Dripping Springs Campground. Park in the lot on the right near the entrance (no fee) or in a campsite ($7 a day).

HIKING ROUTE 2

  • Walk to the south end of the campground where a sign and trail register are located. Sign the register, then proceed across a seasonal stream (flooded after heavy rains). Just past the "Agua Tibia Wilderness" sign, the trail reaches a trail junction with the Wild Horse Trail on the left and the Dripping Springs Trail on the right.
  • Turn left and go 7 long miles as the trail contours 200' above Arroyo Seco then ascends the east shoulder of Wild Horse Peak passing through the saddle west of Agua BM, and then descends to a former dirt road.
  • Turn left and descend about 1/4 mile to a switchback on the right, which leads to a seasonal stream. Cross the stream and a very distinct cow trail and ascend the south side to a road at 2800'. From here to Crosley Saddle the trail is likely to be very vague and difficult to follow.
  • Cross the road (private property in both directions) and pass through a gate. Continue 3 miles on the former Crosley Truck Trail (now a trail) to Crosley Saddle (3931') and a signed junction with the former Palomar-Magee Truck Trail (now a trail). The right fork leads to Agua Tibia Mountain and the Dripping Springs Trail.
  • Turn left and go 1.5 miles (1/4 mile past the saddle at 4468') to a small gully on the right sometimes marked by a duck. Continue up this gully as in Route 1.

SPECIAL CONDITIONS

The Forest Service is planning a seasonal closure of the Dripping Springs Campground because of the endangered green toad. This may prevent the use of Routes 2 and 3 during closure periods. Please contact the Palomar Ranger District Office at 760-788-0250 for current closure information.


Printable version of this route

ROUTE 3

(USFS Adventure Pass required)
Distance: 26 miles round trip on trail, road, and cross-country
Gain: 5500' total, 4500' out plus 1000' on return
Time: 12 hours round trip
Rating: Class 1, very strenuous
Navigation: Intermediate
Leader Rating: "I", normal conditions

Original: John Backus, March 1982

DRIVING ROUTE 3

  • Same as Route 2.

HIKING ROUTE 3

  • Walk to the south end of the campground where a sign and trail register are located. Sign the register, then proceed across a seasonal stream (flooded after heavy rains). Just past the "Agua Tibia Wilderness" sign, the trail reaches a trail junction with the Wild Horse Trail on the left and the Dripping Springs Trail on the right.
  • Turn right onto Dripping Springs Trail (1W03) and follow it for 7 miles to where it joins the former Palomar-Magee Truck Trail (now trail 2W01) at a signed saddle just west of Agua Tibia Mountain (near the "T" in "Tibia" on the Vail Lake topo): One may want to climb to the summit of Agua Tibia Mtn (Lower Peaks list), a very short but very brushy climb.
  • Turn left and follow it 2 1/2 miles as it contours on the northwest shoulder of Agua Tibia Mountain and descends to Crosley Saddle, junction with Wild Horse Trail. This portion of the road is often poorly maintained.
  • Continue as in Route 2.

SPECIAL CONDITIONS

The Forest Service is planning a seasonal closure of the Dripping Springs Campground because of the endangered green toad. This may prevent the use of Routes 2 and 3 during closure periods. Please contact the Cleveland National Forest Palomar Ranger District Office at 760-788-0250 for current closure information.


ALTERNATE ROUTES

A former route from Palomar State Park over Morgan Hill passes through private property (Weber Ranch) and the Mission Indian Reservation. Neither the rancher nor the Indians give permission to hike through their land. Unauthorized use of this route jeopardizes the efforts of trail crews to gain access along it.


SPECIAL CONDITIONS

All three routes in this guide pass through the Agua Tibia Wilderness. Wilderness permits are not required for day hikes but are required for overnight trips. For permit information, contact the Forest Service Station at Oak Grove or:


Palomar District Headquarters
1634 Black Canyon Road
Ramona, CA 92065
(760) 788-0250 (voice)
(760) 788-6130 (FAX)

History of Summit Signature

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Hundred Peaks Section, Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club
Published 30-May-2012
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