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Eagle Rock Hike On The Pct San Diego

Eagle Rock Hike on the PCT (San Diego)

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
Total Distance (?)6.5 miles (10.5 km)
Hike Time2:30-3:30 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Easy
Total Ascent (?)990 feet (302m)
Highest Elevation3,538 feet (1078m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dogs AllowedLeashed
Alerts & Closures (?)Vista Irrigation District
Park Phone760-597-3100

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.

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.

Lone Peak 5

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 ShoeREI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s ShoeREI | Amazon

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

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.

Gaiagps

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 July 2021.

My July 2021 Top Gear Picks

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.

Click Here To View

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.

Fenix 6 Pro

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.

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

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Video Directions

Watch This Video In 360/VR Why 360/VR Is Great

Want to see hikes these hikes live? Follow me on Instagram, sometimes I do a live stream from places like this.

Turn by Turn 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!

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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