Eagle Rock

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Eagle Rock is perhaps the most aptly named rock formation I have ever encountered. Found along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) just a few miles from highway 79 in Warner Springs, this awesome pile of granite bears an astonishing resemblance to an enormous raptor with outstretched wings. As an added bonus, this short stretch of the PCT travels through a startling variety of landscapes, including a gorgeous riparian oak-lined creek, exposed chaparral expanses, and rolling grass-covered hills. There is something in this hike for everyone!

Knowing we had a long drive, we got an early start and reached the Warner Springs just before eight o’clock. We parked off the roadside across the street from the fire station. The PCT crossed the road here, and there were marked gates on both sides of the road. Our journey would take us southbound, so we crossed the street and found the metal pipe gate on the southwest side of the fire station.20160214_DSC4333-EditEagleRock

We passed through the gate, carefully chaining it closed behind us (this area has cattle grazing), and set off down the trail.20160214_DSC4335-EditEagleRock

The trail crossed a dry stream bed, paralleling the highway a short distance, before bending away from the road. Green grass carpeted the ground and oak trees formed a thick canopy over our heads.20160214_DSC4341-EditEagleRock

At .25 mile we passed through another metal pipe gate. Just beyond, the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CR&HT) branched off to the left, providing an alternate route for through-hikers to reach town. We continued straight.20160214_DSC4348-EditEagleRock

In just a few hundred feet we encountered another gate. We ignored the incongruous “No Trespassing Sign” (there is an easement for the PCT/CR&HT trail), passed through the gate, and followed the trail to the left.20160214_DSC4355-EditEagleRock

We were soon delighted to hear the sound of running water, and found a small but steady flow in Cañada Verde Creek to our left.20160214_DSC4357-EditEagleRock

The trail sloped gently uphill along the creek as we continued. 20160214_DSC4375-EditEagleRock

Around .9 mile, the trail bent briefly away from the creek, and a grassy, oak covered hillside opened up on our right. Squirrels scampered off as we approached.20160214_DSC4384-EditEagleRock

We soon found ourselves back near the creek, and the trail wound its way in and out of the cover of the trees.20160214_DSC4396-EditEagleRock

Around 1.6 miles the trail bent around the edge of a wide, grassy expanse.20160214_DSC4412-EditEagleRock

The trees began to thin somewhat, leaving us with clear views of the surrounding area. As the trail unfolded before us, I couldn’t help but daydream about hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. 20160214_DSC4415-EditEagleRock

By 1.9 miles the oaks had been fully replaced by lower growing chaparral. We came to a 4-way intersection and continued straight across, following the PCT trail markers.20160214_DSC4426-EditEagleRock

The trail was lined with tall chamise, and the occasional pencil cholla and prickly pear cactus.20160214_DSC4430-EditEagleRock

As we turned a bend and looked to the northwest, we realized we could make out the observatory and fire lookout atop Palomar Mountain in the distance.20160214_DSC4433-EditEagleRock

The landscape transitioned once again from brushy chaparral to rolling grasslands.20160214_DSC4439-EditEagleRock

In the middle of February, the hills were covered in beautiful green grass, which we knew would probably be golden brown within a few months. Scattered boulders dotted the terrain.20160214_DSC4441-EditEagleRock

The trail wound on and on through the open fields. We had been finding plenty of cow poop along the trail, but so far hadn’t encountered any cattle, and were beginning to wondering if we’d see any at all.20160214_DSC4458-EditEagleRock

We finally caught sight of a hill in the distance with boulders piled on either side. Our destination was in sight.20160214_DSC4470-EditEagleRock

At 3.2 miles we came to a junction. On our left was what appeared to be a rather unassuming pile of boulders. We turned left on the use trail heading up the hill.20160214_DSC4478-EditEagleRock

Reaching the top, we turned around to view the pile of boulders from this new vantage point.20160214_DSC4502-EditEagleRock

Eagle Rock indeed!

We also finally spotted some cows down the hill further along the trail, but didn’t bother to get any closer.20160214_DSC4489-EditEagleRock

We ate a snack and had some fun climbing on the rocks and taking pictures before heading back the way we had come.20160214DSC_6580EagleRock


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Directions:
Take 67 north to downtown Ramona where it turns into Main Street and then 78 East. Continue on 78 East for approximately 14 miles, then turn left onto 79 North. Follow 79 North for approximately 13 miles to the Cal Fire Warner Springs Fire Station on the right. Park on the side of the road opposite the fire station, where there is a wide gravel shoulder. map

Total Distance: 6.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Total Ascent: 988 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes not allowed
Facilities: None
Fees/Permits: None

View route or download GPX in CalTopo

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