Descanso-Green Valley Falls Loop Hike

Hike Date:  Sunday, March 16th, 2014  9:00 AM - 05:00 PM and a Sleepover/Campout and PotluckDinner: Saturday, March 15th at a Descanso Ranch

Location: About an hour's drive east of San Diego, just to the west of Hwy 79 and south of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park


This hike is located just to the southeast of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, on the west side of Hwy. 79. Carpools will depart Hillcrest by 9 am. We'll plan to meet out at the hike site by 10:00 am and start hiking about 10:30.

Directions to the parking area for the hike will be sent out to members via email announcement.

Background info.:

NOTE: Weather permitting, we'll follow thru with this hike. But with possible winter storms and rainfalls this time of year, we may have to cancel if it's raining out there. Click HERE for weather forecast details. We require each hiker to bring their own appropriate hiking gear, food, and sports drinks.

Dogs are not allowed on trails or in park buildings of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, but they are allowed in picnic areas and in the campgrounds (except the primitive trail camps). Since the northern part of this hike (So. Boundary Fire Road, Falls Fire Road, and Green Valley Falls) is within the CRSP boundaries, no dogs are allowed on this particular hike. However, equestrians and mountain bikers are allowed on many of the park's trails and fire roads.

Be sure to do your "carb loading" before the hike by eating a good meal/healthy snack and drinking liquids, avoiding dehydration and fatigue. Carb loading the day before is useful, too. And if you leave the hike early, please notify the hike leader directly, so there's no question that you may have gotten lost or injured along the way. Remember... Safety first.

Hike Description:

Moderately strenuous, this hike is 6.6 miles roundtrip and will take about 4 hours to complete, plus a lunch break at Green Valley Falls. Elevation gain/loss is 1,180'.

The trailhead will begin where Hwy 79 intersects on the west side of the road, with the Merrigan/Japacha Fire Road and the Blue Ribbon Trail.

Head north, up the Blue Ribbon Trail for 1.5 miles. NOTE: Maximum elevation gain of 1180' takes place in the first 1.46 miles of the hike. Turn left onto the South Boundary Fire Road and head west for .6 mi., crossing the Sweetwater River. (This is where trekking poles might help with balance across logs and rocks. Otherwise, your feet might get a little wet...) Then head north .25 mi. and turn right at the S. Boundary intersection. Continue east .9 mi. to Green Valley Falls for lunch.

Return along S. Boundary Fire Road to the first intersection and turn left. Head back south for .25 mile, crossing the Sweetwater River again. Then turn right onto the Sweetwater Trail. Head south along the east bank of the Sweetwater River for 1.1 mi., then turn left at the 4-way intersection onto the Merrigan/Japacha Fire Road. Continue another 1.1 mi. southeast, returning to the trailhead.

Sleepover/Campout/Potluck Information:

In conjunction with the Sunday hike, We've scheduled a Saturday sleepover/campout and potluck dinner at a member's home in Descanso. For interested members, please contact our MeetUp group for details.

Google Earth:

Google Earth streams the world over wired and wireless networks enabling users to virtually go anywhere on the planet and see places in photographic detail. This is not like any map you have ever seen. This is a 3D model of the real world, based on real satellite images combined with maps, guides to restaurants, hotels, entertainment, businesses and more. You can zoom from space to street level instantly and then pan or jump from place to place, city to city, even country to country.

Below is the Google Earth .kmz file for the hike itself. To preview a 3D model of this actual hike in Google Earth, right click on the .kmz file link below and save the file to your desktop. Then double click that desktop file. It should launch Google Earth if you already have Google Earth installed on your computer. (If you do not have the free Google Earth application already installed, first go to to download the free software.)

.kmz file link: Descanso Loop.kmz

Once Google Earth loads the Descanso Loop.kmz file, the aerial map of the loop hike will appear on the right side of the GE window. On the left side is the column with titles like "My Places" and "Temporary Places", which is where the file folder will show up. It may have a name like "~GEcEWMbQ.kmz".  

Click on the grey arrow to the left of that file name and it will open a file below it called Descanso Loop. To begin the tour, first click on the magenta-colored triangle-shaped 3 dots to the left of the name "Descanso Loop".  Finally, look below that, near the bottom of that column, on the right side, and click on the same triangular-dot shape to activate the tour. Sit back and be amazed.

One more really cool feature is the Elevation Profile of the hike. To access it, move your cursor over the "Descanso Loop" file name in the column, and right click on it.  A drop-down menu will appear. Scroll down to "Show Elevation Profile" and click on it. An elevation graph will appear over the map, at the bottom of the window.  It's loaded with useful info of the hike.  Slide your cursor along the graph and it will show the exact location on the loop map above it.