Located in the Agua Tibia Wilderness in Southern California, Agua Tibia Mountain is a peak located in the northwest part of the Palomar Mountain Range. East of Temecula and south of SR 79, most of it lies within the Cleveland National Forest, though the southernmost lower elevation part is contained in the Pauma Indian Reservation. The "peak" of Agua Tibia (Spanish for warm water) is a nearly-level ridge over 3 miles long that varies from 4400' at its northwest end to 5077' Eagle Crag at its southeast end. The peak itself sits at 4779 ft above sea level and the low point along the ridge is Crosley Saddle at 3931'.
With over 25 miles of hiking trails, the Agua Tibia was established as a wilderness on January 3, 1975. This 15,933-acre area is mountainous and cut by many deep canyons containing only intermittent streams. Vegetation is mostly chaparral with oak woodlands and some coniferous forests at the higher elevations. Small pools of water in the canyon bottoms become warm in summer months and thus the name Agua Tibia. Summer temperatures may exceed 100 degrees in the canyons and on the slopes, but are a moderate 80-90 degrees at upper elevations. Rain averages 25 inches annually and falls usually from January through April. Snow falls on upper slopes occasionally.
The main and easiest access to Aqua Tibia is through the Dripping Spring Trailhead. It is located 10 miles east of I-15 on SR79, clearly marked with a "campground 1/4 mile" sign from both directions. Trailhead parking is provided just after you turn right off Highway 79 before entering the Dripping Springs Campground. After parking one can choose between two trails leaving the trailhead. The Dripping Springs trail is more direct.
Dripping Springs Trail
General location: Northern portion of the Agua Tibia Wilderness.
Length: 7.2 miles.
The trail immediately begins to climb out of the campground on a well-graded incline. The next mile contains some climbing leading to a set of switchbacks. A long strenuous climb ensues until the 3200' elevation is reached. The trail then makes an easy southward traverse of a basin before resuming a climb to the southwest. A ridge ascent leads to another traverse and the crossing of the only potential water along the trail (seasonal). After crossing the drainage, a short set of stacked switchbacks is climbed leading to a climbing traverse to the trail terminus on the northwest ridge of Agua Tibia Mountain. This is the junction with the Palomar-Magee Trail and occurs in a nice oak grove - suitable for camping.
Wild Horse/Crosley Trail
General location: Eastern Portion of the Agua Tibia Wilderness.
Length: 10.1 miles.
The trail begins near the bottom of the Dripping Springs Trail, parallels the Arroyo Seco Creek for about two miles, and gains elevation as it proceed south. After passing Wild Horse Peak the trail continues on via the Crosley trail to the Crosley Saddle. From here, one must turn right (NW) to reach Agua Tibia or left (SE) to reach Eagle Crag.
The best time to hike is late autumn through mid-spring.
Drink and bring plenty of water
A Wilderness permit is needed for overnight use and the Adventure Pass is needed when parking at the TH located in the Cleveland NF.
For more info on Cleveland National Forest Passes and Permits click Here
Camping is permitted at both the campgrounds(tempororarily unavailable) and in the Cleveland National Forest. Permits and fees are required. For more information on the Dripping Springs Campground click
External Links and Topo Map
Much of the info found above and much more can be found at the following sites:
TCHESTER'S AGUA TIBIA PAGE
Bob Burd's Trip Report
CNF's Dripping Springs Trail Page
Peak Bagger's Agua Tibia Page
Topo of Agua Tibia