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Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail

San Diego Metro Area, California

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Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail

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  • The trailhead in Hellhole Canyon Preserve.- Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail
  • Keep an eye out for lizard wildlife.- Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail
  • The area is filled with wildflowers in the spring.- Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail
  • Foliage above Hell Creek.- Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail
  • The area is filled with wildflowers in the spring.- Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail
  • The trail ascends above Hell Creek.- Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail
  • The area is filled with wildflowers in the spring.- Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail
  • Our Lord's candle.- Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail
  • The historic Escondido Flume can be seen in the distance.- Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail
  • The trail follows a fence for a portion of the hike.- Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail
  • Cuscuta Californica (witch's hair) is an invasive species.- Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail
  • Flowers blooming along the trail.- Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Horse Thief Loop + Historic Flume Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Scenic. Wildflowers. Historic Flume.
Cons: 
Extreme temperatures in summer.
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Region:
San Diego Metro Area, CA
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,050.00 ft (320.04 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
4.10 mi (6.60 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
300.00 ft (91.44 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

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Despite its name, Hellhole Canyon County Preserve is a great getaway in San Diego County. The Horse Thief Loop Trailhead is by far the easiest and shortest hike in the park, although some sections are quite steep. To get there, follow the Historic Flume Trail for 1.3 miles then follow the signs for the Horse Thief Loop.

The first stretch of the hike is a rapid descent into Hellhole Canyon. There are many educational signs that point out local flora along the way. This region is also home to many endangered species, including the coast horned lizard, burrowing owl, Coopers hawk, and western bluebird. In the spring, Hellhole Canyon boasts colorful wildflower blooms of black sage, chamise, and many other species. At the bottom of the canyon is Hell Creek, which flows seasonally. This area is much cooler and has ample shade. As the trail gently ascends through the chaparral, a view of the Escondido flume emerges. Completed in 1895, the flume carried water from the San Luis Rey River to Lake Wohlford. It consisted of 14,142 feet of wooden flume, 67,287 feet of ditch canal, and 806 feet of tunnel.

Hellhole Canyon County Preserve is closed each August due to extreme temperatures.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(39 within a 30 mile radius)

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