Eagle Rock Hike on the PCT (San Diego)
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance||6.5 miles (10.5 km)|
|Hike Time||2:30-3:30 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||990 feet (302m)|
|Highest Elevation||3,538 feet (1078m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Vista Irrigation District|
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.
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.
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.
The Most Comfortable Hiking Shoe Ever
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak 4.5 (Women: REI | Amazon + Men: REI | Amazon) is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they work great on the trail. It’s a favorite of PCT and AT hikers for a good reason!
Stay Safe Out of Cell Phone Range
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Garmin InReach Mini (REI | Amazon | My Review) fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing.
Gaia GPS Mapping App
Smartphones are not backcountry instruments, but almost everyone has one today. And they all have GPS onboard. So I recommend getting a good GPS hiking app like Gaia GPS that supports offline maps. Just make sure to put your phone in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. GaiaGPS not only has smartphone and tablet apps, but also an online planning tool. You can drag the GPX hike tracks from my (or any) guides into the online map and they will sync to your phone. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get up to 40% off here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated February 2021.
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
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.
Download the Hike GPX FileView a Printable PDF Hike Map
How are you going to navigate this hike?
To start, you should always have a paper map and compass. And it helps to print this guide out or save it on your phone. I highly recommend a GPS as well. I use the Garmin Fenix 6 Smart GPS watch ( REI | Amazon | My Review) with maps (or the more affordable Garmin Instinct). The GPS smartwatch is nice because it’s rugged, works if your phone dies, and also has a billion other features like sleep tracking, workout recording, etc.
Eagle Rock (San Diego) Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
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.
Warner Springs has an interesting history. If that’s your thing, read about it in my guide to the nearby Oak Grove Trail.
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.
This guide last updated on February 19, 2021. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.
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