Some Great Deals!! ➤ REI Cyberweek Sale

South Clevenger Trail Guide
Hiking San Diego

South Clevenger Trail Guide

  • 5 miles - Moderate Effort
  • 2-3 Hours (Total)
  • 1,400 Total Feet of Climbing
  • Max Elevation of 1,680 feet
  • Leashed Dogs Allowed

what does this mean?

The South Clevenger Trail has gained popularity because of a unique attraction: a pair of lawn chairs perched on a boulder, offering epic views down into San Pasqual Canyon. Visiting the chairs is fun, but there's also much more to enjoy on this hike in the San Pasqual - Clevenger Canyon Open Space Park. You have a moderate climb that provides spectacular views of the valley and then the final summit, where you get sweeping views of high peaks like El Cajon and Cuyamaca Peak. It's a fun hike with lots of natural eye candy and photo opportunities.

In this Guide:
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for the South Clevenger Trail
  • How to Get to the South Clevenger Trail
  • Insider Hike Tips and Recommendations

When planning, always check the park website and social media to make sure the trails are open. Similarly, check the weather and road conditions.

Where is South Clevenger Trail?

The South Clevenger Trail starts just of CA-78, a spectacular windy road up the valley. Use this trailhead address:
South Clevenger Trail, 18259-18313 CA-78, Escondido, CA 92025

South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 2
The drive to the trailhead is spectacular. The only downside is that this road is usually busy.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 3
There's a small parking area on the south side of the road.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 1
Theoretically you'd get trail information from the board here, but today I only get gang tags.

There are no toilets or water fills at the trailhead.

Gear For the Hike

This is a "hike hike" and I recommend using hiking clothing. You can also hike in fitness clothes.

Gear 2022 8

I waste my time with lousy hiking gear so you don't have to. Only the winners get onto my gear page. There's no fluff, sponsorships, or promotions. It's just gear I personally use, have tested, and recommend. Right now I'm liking my inReach Mini 2, Garmin Epix, and Lone Peak 6 shoes.
.
My November 2022 Top Gear Picks

HUUUGE!!! ➤REI Cyberweek Sale Including Big Discounts on Hiking Tech Like inReach / Garmin Watches

South Clevenger Trail Maps

This hike is on a trail in a City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department's park and is actively maintained. Yes, you are in the City of San Diego here! The trail is in decent condition and easy to follow.

Click Here To View

Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

Free Nav Tools:  GaiaGPS - AllTrails (Pro Now 50% Off!)

Guides to Help You Navigate

Elevation Profile

South Clevenger Trail Guide Elevation
Here's the one-way profile to the top. It's a steady climb to the high point by Peak 1755, then you'll follow the ridge to the chairs and Peak 1635.

3D Map

South Clevenger Trail Guide 3d Map
From the start you'll climb up the ridge, and then wind around to the left where the ridge ends at Peak 1635.

Hike Brief

Engleman Oak
Clevenger Canyon is home to the rare Engelmann Oak, found primarily in San Diego County's hill country. This oak's range once extended into Arizona but today is confined to San Diego / Northern Baja because of climate change. Fire damage from the 2018 Pasqual Fire along this hiking route means that you probably won't see Engelmanns, but you might spot a few as you glance around the surrounding landscape. Photo Wikipedia

South Clevenger Trail Hike Directions

Stay in Touch: Monthly Email - New YouTube Videos - Instagram

Video Directions

Turn by Turn Directions

South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 4
The trail starts a short way up from the parking area.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 5
Head through the gate to start the hike.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 6
After passing the gate you'll get the usual warning signs.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 7
The trail starts off as a gradual uphill with some wide switchbacks.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 8
Some sections get steep, but the trail doesn't have any long steep sections.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 9
In the spring the trail can get colorful. I recommend doing the hike in the winter and spring when it's green and lush.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 10
Pass the face rock.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 11
At the junction, go straight. To the right is what people call the Clevenger Canyon South-West Trail.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 12
The trail levels off and you hike into the gully, which has some trees that survived the 2018 Pasqual Fire. Maybe there's an Engelmann Oak in there somewhere.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 13
The vegetation in this section can be overgrown as you cross the middle of the canyon, which also has an intermittent stream.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 14
Now you start to climb again. That boulder in the distance is where you're going, and will be the high point on this hike.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 15
There are some steep switchbacks that wind up before the trail levels out as you approach the high point.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 16
You'll start to get some views along the ridge here. The final peak, Peak 1635, is the end of the trail.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 17
The major climbing is over and you just have some small rises as you approach the high point.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 18
Some sections here have stairs as you tackle a few short uphills.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 19
And soon you'll pass by the big boulder that you've seen for the last mile or so.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 20
Now it's downhill to Peak 1635.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 21
When you get to the big clearing by the building site (will be off to the right), follow the trail to the left.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 22
And shortly you'll see the chairs in the distance.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 23
Look for the hard right turn just below the chairs.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 24
And here you are at the chairs.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 25
Climb up the boulder and have a seat. The chairs rock and move a bit, which can be a little unnerving until you get used to it.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 26
This is the view that you get from the chairs. Not too shabby....
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 27
When you're done, head toward the final peak on the trail that continues from the back of the chairs.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 28
Soon the end of the trail, Peak 1635 is in front of you.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 29
There are a few areas with boulders to climb around, but the official peak is a hard right.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 30
You'll find a bench and trail register here.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 31
You get great views into the San Pasqual Valley.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 32
And views up Boden and Clevenger Canyons. In the distance on a clear day you'll see Cuyamaca Peak and El Cajon.
South Clevenger Canyon Trail Directions 33
From here, just turn around and head back down the way you came. That's the hike, thanks for using my guide!

Related Guides

Popular Guides

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!).

Don't Miss Out

  • Monthly(ish) Email Newsletter - A list of new guides and important info for hikers.
  • YouTube - Subscribe for new video notifications. The best way to get notified every time a new guide goes up.
  • Instagram - I occasionally share pretty pictures from my hikes, broadcast live from the trail, and let you know about new guides.