Sloan Canyon

Ever since we had hiked Sycuan Peak last fall we’d been eager to get back out and experience some more of the rugged beauty of Jamul. The California Riding & Hiking Trail (CR&HT), the incomplete and non-contiguous statewide trail system, runs through the area. We decided to check out this short stretch that runs down into Sloan Canyon and crosses the Sweetwater River just downstream of Loveland Reservoir.

This hike is probably not a good choice for hot weather, as the trail has virtually zero shade until you reach the river. Also, since the steep uphill climb back out of the canyon will occur on the latter half of your journey when the sun is higher, this one is a good candidate for cooler weather.

From the small dirt turnout where we parked our car, we began walking south along the rural dirt road. Houses stood on both sides of the road, but we didn’t see anyone other than another pair of hikers heading back to their car.20160103_DSC5641-Edit_Sloan_Canyon

We followed the road, passing through an open metal gate with CR&HT markings on it.20160103_DSC5643-Edit_Sloan_Canyon

At about a quarter of a mile from our parking spot, we found a trail marker for the California Riding and Hiking Trail on the left. A well worn trail descended through the brush.20160103_DSC5645-Edit_Sloan_Canyon

Due south of us, Sycuan Peak rose up into the sky.20160103_DSC5654-Edit_Sloan_Canyon

The trail was a bit cracked and eroded, but it wasn’t so bad as to cause us any problems as we made our way downhill.20160103_DSC5669-Edit_Sloan_Canyon

At .75 miles the narrow trail met a wide dirt road. We turned right, and continued downhill along the road.20160103_DSC5670-Edit_Sloan_Canyon

We spotted some beautiful exposed granite amid the thick carpet of green chaparral along the roadside.20160103_DSC5679-Edit_Sloan_Canyon

As far as fire roads go, this was definitely one of the more scenic ones we had been on. I imagine that during wildflower season in the spring this is an amazing place.20160103_DSC5682-Edit_Sloan_Canyon

Even in early January, we got lucky and found a flower here and there.20160103_DSC5693_Sloan_Canyon

It was a rather circuitous road however. Looking down, we could see the serpentine road winding down into the canyon below.20160103_DSC5683-Edit_Sloan_Canyon

Continuing on, we passed a couple of side roads and driveways that led down to some trailers and houses down below. At 1.4 miles, we encountered a private driveway marked by an old rusted out car body.20160103_DSC5712-Edit_Sloan_Canyon

Beyond the trailers we could see an enormous granite gorge where the river flowed. It looked like an awesome area to explore, but lies on private property so we had to content ourselves with admiring it from afar.20160103_DSC5726-Sloan_Canyon

We continued making our way down the winding road, getting ever closer to the river. We could see the thick tangle of lush growth that marked a reliable water source.20160103_DSC5747_Sloan_Canyon

A stand of nearly bare Sycamore trees stood like a gateway as we reached the floor of the canyon.20160103_DSC5736_Sloan_Canyon

At 2.25 miles, we finally reached the wooden bridge that spanned the river. Although a sign warned us that the bridge was unsafe, and some of the spots of wood did appear to be a bit rickety, our fears were allayed when a Mercedes came up behind us and drove across the bridge. The owner got out, unlocked the gate, drove through, locked the gate behind him and drove off. We felt pretty safe walking across at that point.20160103_DSC5742_Sloan_Canyon

The river was densely overgrown and we couldn’t see much, but we did spot a fair amount of poison oak under the trees near the bridge. The CR&HT continued up the road on the other side of the river, and probably merits further exploration at some point.20160103_DSC5739_Sloan_Canyon

Today however, we just spent a few minutes enjoying the quiet tranquility of the canyon, then headed back the way we had come.

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From I-8, take the Tavern Road exit and head south on Tavern Road. Follow Tavern Road for approximately 2.8 miles and continue as it turns into Japatul Road. After approximately .3 miles after it turns into Japatul Road, turn right onto Sequan Truck Trail. Follow Sequan Truck Trail for approximately 3 miles – the pavement will end after 2.5 miles, but the dirt road is quite passable for a passenger car. As Sequan Truck Trail makes a 90 degree right turn, you will find a small dirt turnout on the left. Park here. map

Total Distance: 4.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Total Ascent: 887 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes allowed
Facilities: None
Fees/Permits: None

For more information, visit:
View route or download GPX in CalTopo

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