Love Valley lies near the base of Palomar Mountain just west of Lake Henshaw. Seasonal ponds, a rustic old barn, and an oak-lined meadow make for a pleasant stroll. The valley is still currently used at times for cattle grazing. While we didn’t encounter any cows on our trip, be aware that you might have some four-legged companions on your hike.
From the trailhead off of East Grade Road, we stepped past the gate and set off along the hard-packed dirt road.
Almost immediately, we spotted a single track trail branching off on the right. We turned and followed this trail through the trees.
The trail descended towards the valley below.
Wildflowers were beginning to dot the grassy trailside.
We passed through a short section of overgrown ceanothus.
Around .28 miles we crossed a narrow stream.
We followed the thin stream of water for a short stretch.
We passed through some more oaks and crossed a damp muddy patch before emerging on the edge of the meadow. The trail bent south, heading towards an old, dilapidated barn.
We followed the trail as it passed by the barn, allowing us a close look at the ramshackle building. It was constructed of rusty sheets of corrugated metal that groaned loudly in the wind. I personally found the “No Trespassing” signs unnecessary, as the likelihood of contracting tetanus was enough to keep me out.
Continuing past the barn, we took in the beautiful meadow on our right. Water filled several of the depressions in the field.
At .6 miles we came upon a “T” junction. The road straight ahead led back to our starting point and would be our route out. For now, we turned right to explore more of the valley.
The old road traveled south. On our right was the open expanse of the meadow, and on our left were tall oak trees. As we continued, we caught some glimpses of Lake Henshaw through the trees.
We got some better views of the small pond in the middle of the meadow.
We also spotted a number of these cement cylinders near the road, which immediately made me think of fire rings. We hypothesized that the area may once have held a campground, but I haven’t been able to find any confirmation of that.
We encountered increasing numbers of small yellow flowers.
The old road turned west and slowly began to fade away, overgrown with grass.
By the time we reached the 1.4 mile point, the trail had pretty much disappeared. It would certainly be possible to forge your own path around the meadow and loop back to the rusty barn, but we decided to just turn around and retrace our path back to the last junction.
At the junction, we turned right and began to climb up the dirt road.
Before long we got some fantastic views of Lake Henshaw in the east.
We also found we had some nice views of the Valley behind us.
The ceanothus on the hills surrounding us was beginning to bloom.
We continued along the road as it wound around. Then suddenly, rounding a bend as the road turned sharply northward, we found ourselves back at the gate where we had started.
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From the junction of Highway 76 and East Grade Road (S7), head north on East Grade road for approximately 3.3 miles to the Love Valley Meadow trailhead on the left. Park in the large dirt turnout. map
||Easy – Moderate
||Leashed dogs allowed
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View route or download GPX from CalTopo