Tucked into a dry and isolated corner of the Cleveland National Forest, the oak-rimmed oasis of Barker Valley is an incredible surprise. The perennial west fork of the San Luis Rey River gurgles (probably dry now!) through the narrow valley floor, sustaining a growth of willows and sycamores along its banks. Centuries-old live-oaks cast inviting pools of shade across grassy meadows now bleaching from green to gold under the relentless rays of the sun.
Barker Valley is located on the North side of Palomar Mountain. The area is a richly vegetated valley with several tributaries and the west fork of the San Luis River running along the Palomar/ Aguanga mountains. We will backpack into base camp and spend the day exploring the valley and river area. Highlights include a large dry falls… great for climbing!
Difficulty: Barker Valley Spur Trail is a 3.5 mile trail that features a (dry) waterfall and is rated as moderate. This is a reverse hike down in to Barker Valley, about 7 miles roundtrip, moderately difficult. The climb out is fairly steep in exposed sun.
Water: This is most likely dry camping – you will have to carry in all water. I recommend at least 3 liters for hike in and out, plus 1 liter for cooking. Last time I was there, there were a few pools of water in the creek, but it was pretty stagnant and covered in algae…
Directions: Route 79 from Santa Ysabel past Warner Springs to Palomar Divide Road (#9S07 approx. 21.6 mile from Santa Ysabel). This is a dirt road on your left, very difficult to see. Look for a small sign on the right side pointing across. If you reach Alder you have gone too far. Travel 7.6 miles on Palomar Divide truck Trail to Barker Spur Trailhead. High Clearance vehicle is recommended.