Barker Valley Trail


Barker Valley Trail is a moderately easy, 7.5 mile hike in Cleveland National Forest that will take about 4 hours to complete with Fido. On this trail you will actually descend on the way in and then ascend on the way out. The very slow and steady incline, allows for an inverse hike that isn't utterly exhausting. The trail can be hot throughout the year, and it is important to bring plenty of water along. Turn west from Highway 79 at a point 6.5 miles northwest of Warner Springs (mile 41.9 according to the roadside mileage markers). Continue up the mostly unpaved Palomar Divide Road for 7.8 miles to the Barker Valley Spur trailhead on the left (west) side. This road is subject to closure during and after bad weather. Also note that since the trailhead and the hiking route lie within national forest territory, you must post a National Forest Adventure Pass on your parked car.


BringFido Traveler Rating

Barker Valley Trail has received a rating of 3.7 out of 5 bones by 3 dog owners on BringFido.

  • More than one year ago.
    Beautiful for Backpackers, hard on dogs.

    This is a great trail for experienced trail dogs, but NEVER on a hot day. For dogs, especially of the dark variety or those with dense fur, hot can begin at only 75. How will you know if it's too hot for your own dog? Is he running from one piece of shade to another and not really wanting to come out from under? His feet are burning on the sand. Are you able to stop in some shade and after a rest and some water, he no longer pants? If so he/she is still ok to go; if a dog cannot stop panting, the dog is still hot and you risk heat stroke and death if you continue hiking him. I have a black Kelpie and he will hike for 8 to 10 miles depending on terrain, and only slow down the last mile. I imagine him hiking with me down to his last breath, so it's up to me to pay attention and make wise trail choices for him. The first time I took him to Barker Valley, even after a 50 mile, 1 hour drive, when his actions told me that this was not the right day for this hike, we turned around after 1 mile of hiking, got in the truck, and found a cooler hike for him.

    However I was able to accomplish this backpack with him just a few days ago, I hiked down in the evening, and hiked out in the evening. He loved the freedom of being off leash, but I did keep him behind me so I would find any rattlesnakes before he did.

    So if you do this, do it in the morning or after 4 to 5pm on a hot day. Carry LOTS of water. My dog carries a Mountain Smith Trail pack with a litre of water, and I carry a three litre mule of my own which I share with him. I keep him well watered at all times. Dogs don't ask you for water, you have to pay attention. When I get to the bottom I use my MSR Sweetwater to filter/pump us up replacement water for the trip back up. I may or may not drink more water than you, but I like having lots of it around.

    Your dog needs toughened up paws for this. If your dog is an inside dog and the sidewalk is as difficult as it gets, you might buy him/her booties and only try a mile or two. The rock is granite, decomposed granite, plus feldspar, quartz, and other crystalline type rocks, it's very sharp and it's a very rocky trail, you would never walk on it barefoot unless your feet were totally toughened up, and maybe not even then. Also stop once in a while to pull foxtails from his/her coat, especially in the valley. You know how they feel in your socks, imagine how they feel stuck all over your body?

    I love this trail for a backpack, but my dog thinks Santa Margarita River is a much better hike and I have to agree.

  • More than one year ago.
    Great road!

    Brilliant afternoon out and a really nice scenic drive away from the concrete freeways of SD! 7 mile truck trail was brilliant. The dog spent most of it hanging out the window. (you really need a high clearance car though, and 4x4 if there's been recent rain. Walk was spectacular with lots of interesting things along the path. Views are lost a little at the bottom of the valley where the path is rather overgrown. Higher up it rates amongst the best! 4 hours leisurely walk up and back including 12 week pregnant wife! (up to date tomtom will take you right to the trail head - very impressed)

  • More than one year ago.
    Barker valley

    I took this trail down and back up it is not for the faint of heart it is pretty brutal, please bring PLENTY water along you can allow your dogs to get water at the bottom from the creek. The trial has many types of terrain sand, rock, hard packed. If you do not exercise your dogs and do not take them out regularly please reconsider this trial it is pretty tough !

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