Thunder Spring Trail Loop
- 4.2 miles - Moderate Effort
- 2 Hours (Total)
- 900 Total Feet of Climbing
- Max Elevation of 5,345 feet
- No Dogs Allowed
The Thunder Spring Trail Loop is one of the quieter hikes in Palomar Mountain State Park; it's a great hike to get away from it all. The scenery is lush, with lots of pines, cedars, and in the spring, wildflowers. You have a climb that will get your heart rate up, but is not too tough. And along the way, you visit a historic homesteader's cabin site. Overall it's a nice trail and a good time.
- Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for the Thunder Spring Trail Hike
- How to Get to the Thunder Spring Trail
- Insider Tips and Recommendations for the Hike
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 the Thunder Spring Trail?
The Thunder Spring Trail hike is located in Palomar Mountain SP. Drive into the park and follow the signs for Doane Pond. There's also a (private) retreat by the pond that might be more GPS-friendly. Use this trailhead address:
Camp Palomar, 34798 Doane Valley Rd, Palomar Mountain, CA 92060
There is an entry fee to enter Palomar Mountain State Park.
Gear For the Hike
The main challenge on this hike can be poison oak and nettles. Wearing long pants solves the problem, just make sure you don't touch your pants if you go through a patch. And there can be gnats, so bring insect repellant. Otherwise this is a straightforward backcountry hike with lots of shade. I bring 1L of water.
Top Spring 2023 Gear Picks
Osprey Stratos and Sirrus 24 Daypack ( Amazon | Sirrus REI | Stratos REI )
Garmin Mini 2 Satellite Communicator ( Amazon | REI )
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles ( REI | Amazon )
As a hiking guide, I test lots of hiking gear. On my picks page, I'll show you all of the gear that I actually use. I don't accept paid promotions or talk about the stuff that doesn't make the cut. It's just the gear that works best, so you don't have to waste your money.
All My March 2023 Top Gear Picks
Thunder Spring Trail Maps
Overall the trails are easy to follow and well-marked with signs. You can also save a copy of the handy park handout map which keeps things simple.
Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File
Free Nav Tools: GaiaGPS - AllTrails
Guides to Help You Navigate
Thunder Spring Trail Hike Directions
Stay in Touch: Monthly Email - New YouTube Videos - Instagram
Turn by Turn Directions
Who is Doane? You can read about him here.
The land on the other side of the fence belongs to a cattle ranch, something you wouldn't expect up on Palomar Mountain. If you drive to the observatory you can see the pastures alongside the road. There has been cattle ranching here since 1860, when the Mendenhall family started bringing cows up to the mountain during the summer (and back down into the valley during the winter). The Mendenhall'ls are still owners of the ranch.
Who was Scott? Most likely it was B. F. Scott, who according to a 1900 census, owned the land here. According to Robert Haley Asher (1868-1953), who lived in the area from 1903-1946, an "ancient log cabin" stood around this area and was often occupied by transients and visitors. I like to think it belonged to Andreas & Elvira Scott, Native Americans who were listed in an 1880 census of the area. If you know anything more, please contact me and give me the scoop.
This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard
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!).
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