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Hiking San Diego

Eagle Rock Hike on the PCT (San Diego)

  • 6.5 miles - Easy Effort
  • 2:30-3:30 Hours (Total)
  • 990 Total Feet of Climbing
  • Max Elevation of 3,538 feet
  • Leashed Dogs Allowed

The Eagle Rock hike, near San Diego in Warner Springs, is an easy adventure on the legendary PCT (Pacific Crest Trail). You'll meander up a babbling brook in the shade of oaks, and then cross grasslands offering views of San Diego County's high points. At the end, you are treated to Eagle Rock, perched on a hillside and overlooking this remote area. Overall Eagle Rock is a great hike with lots of payoff for not much effort.

In this Guide:
  • Eagle Rock Hike Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions
  • Where to Park for the Eagle Rock Hike in San Diego County
  • Insider Tips and Recommendations

Where is the Eagle Rock Hike?

First of all, there are dozens of Eagle Rocks, with a few being in Southern California, so make sure you are going to the one in Warner Springs, CA. Warner Springs is pretty remote, and the services are limited. Use this trailhead address:
31049 CA-79, Warner Springs, CA 92086

You are going to park across the street from the Cal Fire station on the side of the road. Don't park at the fire station or block their driveways. You might be saying "duh!" but after talking to some firefighters there, you'd be surprised at the dumb stuff that goes on with people parking.

Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 3
Here's the fire station, park across the street from it.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 1
There's a wide dirt shoulder where you can park. When it's empty like in this shot, you can park parallel with the road. When it's busy, park head in.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 2
The parking area ends at the PCT sign on the southern end of the lot. If this area is full, drive down the road in this direction for a minute and there's another big parking area on the shoulder.

There are no bathrooms at the trailhead or on the trail.

The land you are hiking on is mostly owned by the Vista Water District's Lake Henshaw area. It's not a public park, but you are permitted to hike here on the PCT.

Gear for the Hike

This is a mellow hike and there isn't too much that's technically challenging. In the summer, it can get hot and buggy, so prepare accordingly with insect repellant and at least 1L of water. And you might not realize it, but the trailhead is at over 3,000 feet, and it can get cold. On the day that I shot the photos for this guide, it was 25F when I started at the trailhead.

Gear That I Love Right Now

Nothing is sponsored or promoted, just the actual gear that I use.

Gear Inreach Mini 2
Garmin InReach Mini 2If you are out of cellphone range the Mini 2 will reliably allow you to hit SOS via satellite. You can also send non-emergency texts to just say that you're late, let friends and family follow along, and check the weather. You can see my review here.
Gear Topo Pursuit
Topo Pursuit 2The wide toe box means no blisters, an aggressive tread is great on the trail, it dries very quickly, and it has lots of cushion for long days. It combines everything I love about every other shoe into one.
Gear Epix Pro Up Ahead
Garmin Epix ProThese watches are pricey, but I use them 24/7 for sleep tracking, workouts, heart rate, and tracking my hike. It has preloaded hiking maps that help me navigate the trails and is a backup to my smartphone navigation. The Epix Pro has a great battery life, a screen similar to an Apple Watch Ultra, and works in harsh conditions when just using the buttons. See my review here.
Hikelite 26 Gear
Osprey Hikelite 26This updated version of the Hikelite 26 offers incredible value for the money. It's got a wide trampoline back, so your back doesn't get sweaty. It's under 2lbs, has deep side pockets, and is a great balance of what you need without what you don't.

Check out the complete list here. ( Updated June 2024)

Eagle Rock via the PCT Trail Maps

There's nothing too tricky about this hike. You start on the PCT and you end on the PCT. One thing you might notice is that the actual trail (as documented in the map and GPX file below) doesn't always fall nicely on the official trail line for the PCT. My guess is that the official trail line has been simplified and smoothed a bit.

Click Here To View

Use This Map:
View in CalTopo | PDF Map | GPX File

Pct Sign On Eagle Creek Hike
There are a fair number of PCT markers along the trail. You'll be on the PCT for the whole hike.

Elevation Profile

Eagle Rock Pct Elevation
This one-way elevation profile is a little deceiving. The hike is generally uphill with some rolling terrain, but the distance makes all of the uphill sections seem very gradual and tame.

3d Map

Eagle Rock Pct 3d Map
You hike up the lush Cañada Verde (green gully) and then head across the grasslands to Eagle Rock.

Eagle Rock (San Diego) Hike Directions

Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 4
The hike starts at this livestock gate, just south of the Cal Fire station, across the street from the parking area.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 5
Head through the gate and make sure that you close it all the way.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 6
The very start can be a little confusing. Just go straight on the big trail, ignoring the PCT sign on the right.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 7
In a minute you'll merge onto the PCT proper by heading left.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 8
You'll hike through the tall oaks along Cañada Verde and will pass some PCT markers.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 9
Head through the next gate and go straight, avoiding the trail to the left.

This area is a popular spot for PCT hikers to camp. The trail to the left in the last photo heads to the post office where PCT thru-hikers often resupply. If you want to learn more about the PCT, visit their website and watch the popular Darwin on the Trail videos documenting what hiking the whole thing is like.

Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 10
Head through the last gate on the way to Eagle Rock.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 11
You'll likely see small side trails to the creek or to camping sites. Stay on the main trail, which is always easy to spot.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 12
Hike up along peaceful Cañada Verde Creek and enjoy the shade.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 13
You'll see a few nice resting and camping areas on the side of the trail along this stretch.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 14
The trail veers away from Cañada Verde and heads uphill.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 15
To your left in the distance is Hot Springs Mountain, the highest point in San Diego County at 6,535 feet.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 16
And behind you is High Point and the Palomar Observatory, which is the white dome peeking above the ridge.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 17
When you get to the junction with the old dirt road, hike straight through.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 18
As you crest the ridge you'll get nice views into San Jose del Valle, once all part of Warner Ranch. From here you have a little downhill stretch.

Warner Springs has an interesting history. If that's your thing, read about it in my guide to the nearby Oak Grove Trail.

Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 19
The trail winds around some boulders and trees before heading into the grasslands.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 20
As the trail starts to head uphill again, stay straight on the main trail. Avoiding the trail to the right. When you come back, make sure you don't hike down to the right. This turn, in reverse, sometimes gets missed.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 21
From here on out you'll be rolling over the grasslands on the well-defined PCT.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 22
You'll be sharing the trail with grazing cattle. They generally will move away if on the trail.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 23
The trail starts to climb up toward a series of boulders. You can't see Eagle Rock from here.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 24
Hike up the first path to the left and head to the other side of the boulders.
Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 25
From here you get great views of Eagle Rock. It really does look like an eagle. No imagination required.

Please do not climb on Eagle Rock. The rock has cracks and at some point will break. Don't be the one makes the news because you destroyed this special place for a photo.

Eagle Rock Pct Hike Directions 26
From Eagle Rock, just go back the way you came. The views are great on the hike back so enjoy!

Need More Info?

  • Have a question about the guide or want to see what other people are saying/asking? View the Youtube comments for this video. Leave a comment and I will do my best to respond.
  • When planning, always check the park website and social media to make sure the trails are open. Similarly, check the weather and road conditions.

This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard

Cris Hazzard 4 Mile Trail Yosemite
Hi, I'm Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn't so you don't waste money. I don't do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn't do it without folks like you!). You can stay up to date with my new guides by following me on YouTube, Instagram, or by subscribing to my monthly newsletter.