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.
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.
Altra Lone Peak 5
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak 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’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. Watch my video explaining why they are a great shoe here.
Latest Price on Women’s Shoe
REI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s Shoe
REI | Amazon
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
I’ve gone back and forth on trekking poles, but I think for most people they are a good investment. They help you dig in on the uphills, provide stability on loose downhills, act as a brace when crossing streams, and can probably poke away aggressive wildlife in a pinch. The Trail Ergo Cork poles are a good balance of light weight, durability, affordability, and ease of use. If you want something ultralight and a little more pricey, I’ve had great luck with the Black Diamond Z Poles too.
REI | Amazon
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated October 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 keep the website ad and promotion free. 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.
Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File
If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.
How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 6. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
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 April 2, 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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