Doane Valley (dayhike)

Trip Date: 7/23/2015 

Location: Palomar Mountain State Park

Permit/Pass: Day use fees: $8.00/vehicle

Maps: Park

Directions: (Adapted from From Interstate 15 north of Escondido take the Highway 76 East exit. Travel about 20.7 miles until you come to a slight turn off on your left called "Palomar Mountain Road", also called "S6" or "South Grade Road". Travel up the mountain for 6.8 miles to a stop sign. Turn left and continue for a few yards. Ahead on your left you'll see a general store and a restaurant; turn left onto the road just before the general store - that's State Park Road. Keep going for about 3 miles. You'll eventually reach the park entrance/boundary and a big sign on your right. Before long you'll come to a stop sign and a small building on your right; that's the park HQ. After paying the fees, proceed forward to a right turn onto Doane Valley Rd. Follow the road down into the valley (don't take the turn for the Christian Center) until you come to parking for Doane Pond. The trailhead is at the southwestern corner of the parking lot.

Synopsis: Offering a nice overview of the Doane Valley Natural Preserve, this hike manages to traverse several different habitats along with visiting a historical site. The first half/3/4 of a mile travels along an interpretive trail, so if you've got youngsters it might be worth picking up the relevant pamphlet.

Trail sequence: Doane Valley Nature Trail / French Valley Trail / Lower Doane Trail / Weir Trail / Doane Valley Nature Trail

Type: Loop

Distance: 3.4 miles

Elevation: Min. - 4450', Max. - 4726'


Rating: Easy-Moderate (factors: brushy trail) 

Trail Notes: The short side trip out to the historical weir is worthwhile, but be careful when crossing the creek, walking on slippery rock, and brushing past the overgrown wild roses (thorns).


Doane Valley - Palomar Mountain SP


Turn by Turn:

  -- At the southwestern corner of the parking lot (not the southeastern corner with the large interpretive sign) you'll find an understated trailhead leading through some trees and down toward the main road. Follow this trail and cross the road to pick it up on the other side. You'll drop down initially to the creek (sometimes dry) and cross to the other side. For the first couple of hundred yards the path leads ion a southwesterly direction.

  -- Continue on the Doane Valley Nature Trail / Weir Trail as it veers to the northwest and then reaches a fork. To follow this guide, take the right path to follow the Doane Valley Nature Trail. (The return loop will bring you back to this spot on the Weir Trail.)

  -- The Nature Trail heads northwest and then loops back to the east for about a mile before reaching a junction with the French Valley Trail. (Here you are very close to the Doane Valley campground, and walking through the campground to the road, then south on the road will take you back to the parking lot. Do this if you just want to complete the Nature Trail.) Turn left (west) onto the French Valley Trail.

   -- Follow the French Valley Trail as it passes a junction on the left with the Lower Doane Trail and eventually brings you to very pretty meadow enclosed by high hills on all sides. Here the trail turns and heads back to the southeast before coming once again to Lower Doane Trail. Turn right (west) on Lower Doane.

  -- After just a short distance the path intersects Weir Trail. Turn right (northwest) to take the short spur out to the historic weir site. The small building itself may be hidden behind some overgrowth, but you will know you're there when you reach some large flat stone projecting into the creek.

  -- Be sure to stay right on Weir Trail upon returning to the junction with Lower Doane. You'll cross the creek again and head up the hillside. For a good part of this return trip the path stays higher up, giving you a nice view of the meadows to the north.

  -- Eventually you return to enclosed forest and soon reach the fork where Weir Trail rejoins Doane Valley Nature Trail. Continue southeast and up as the trail rises to meet the road once again and returns you to the parking lot.


Video: Youtube