The Historic Flume Trail

In the late 1800’s, a wooden flume was constructed to carry water from Lake Cuyamaca to the El Cajon Valley. Over the years, more efficient methods of transporting water have been developed, but remains of the old flume can still be found along its route. The County has recently opened the Historic Flume Trail in El Monte Valley, which encompasses a short segment of the flume’s route. This is an enjoyable little hike with fantastic views of El Monte Valley and El Cajon Mountain, with the option to connect to the trail around Lake Jennings if you’re looking for a longer route.

We set off to explore the new trail on a beautiful warm day. The trailhead was a little difficult to spot from the road, since it is located within the gated confines of a pumping station on El Monte Road. It really doesn’t look like a staging area from the road, but if you look carefully you’ll see a small green sign that reads “Historic Flume Trail” pointing inward.

There was a map posted at the staging area, always a helpful touch.

The trail began at the southern edge of the parking area at the bottom of the hill.

The first part of the trail was a series of switchbacks up the side of the hill. We could see an old pipeline running down the hillside blocked off by chain-link fence.

We started up the switchbacks. The hills were bright green thanks to the copious amounts of rain. Large swathes of yellow mustard and some stands of prickly pear cactus dotted the slopes.

There were also bright orange patches of poppies brightening up the trail side.

Around .4 mile we reached the end of the switchbacks and the trail leveled out. Looking west across the valley we could see Hanson Pond just across the road.

And in the east was the magnificent El Cajon Mountain rising in the distance.

We continued on the flat, narrow trail until about .6 miles when we came to a “Y” junction. The right branch continued over the ridge to connect to the Lake Jennings Trail, which we had explored the previous fall.

We took the left fork, descending a short way to an informational sign.

The sign we found talked about the tunnels created to allow the flume to pass through the hillside. Sure enough, looking back towards the small rise we had just descended, we spotted what looked like a small tunnel, mostly obscured by overgrown brush.

There was a small mound of dirt to one side with what appeared to be a small use trail, and upon climbing that we found the blocked off remnants of the tunnel.

After checking out the tunnel, we continued east.

In just a short way however, we reached the end of the trail. The land beyond is privately owned so unfortunately this was our turnaround point, although the flume route eventually connects with the El Monte Park trail further east.. We headed back to our car from here. If you’re looking for additional miles you can return to the previous junction and head south to connect to Lake Jennings, just remember dogs are not allowed on that trail.

From I-8, take the Lake Jennings Park Road exit. Head north on Lake Jennings Park Road for approximately 1.8 miles. Turn right onto El Monte Road. Follow El Monte Road for approximately .8 miles to the El Monte Pumping Station on the right. Drive into the gated parking area at the pumping station. map

Total Distance: 1.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Total Ascent: 385 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes allowed
Facilities: None
Fees/Permits: None

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

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