Gate: 33.330858, -116.709190 Abandoned house: 33.330852, -116.767831
Trailhead: 33.339638, -116.787925 **This trail is called Barker Valley Spur**
From main road/gate to trailhead: 7.81 miles (Gate is subject to be closed before or after storms so call in)
Trailhead into valley – 3.16 miles
Dogs-Friendly: Yes Kid-Friendly: Yes Camping: Allowed
Level: Moderately Strenuous
To reach the trailhead: 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. 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.
TIP: You absolutely MUST have 4-wheel drive to make it up the mountain from the gate. Otherwise you are looking at an 8 mile hike up the mountain to the trailhead. If this is your option, I recommend camping which is allowed here.
TIP #2: Cell phone use is rare out here so make sure to have your trip physically mapped out.
Personal Experience: This is a gorgeous hike located on the southern end of Palomar Mountain, heading into Warner Springs. Part of me wants to call the Barker Valley Trail the Barker Valley FAIL because we unfortunately did not get to the waterfall. We were thrown into a really strange situation though. When we arrived the gate was closed.
If we wanted to hike to the trailhead from the gate it would have taken us 8 miles up hill THEN an additional 2-3 miles down a mountain to search for the elusive waterfall. We were not prepared for that type of hike and right when we were giving up, a knight in a shiny white truck saved us.
He had the right pass to get us through the gate and drove us all the way up the mountain to the trailhead. He even promised to come back for us at sunset to drive us back down. He truly was an angel.
Here is a copy and paste that I found on the waterfall: “If you are up to the challenge, you’ll end up in a nice meadow with several excellent camp sites about a mile downstream. At the end of the meadow, the stream enters a granite gorge with several large pools suitable for swimming and some waterfalls. There were quite a few people at the waterfall when we were there.” Another person mentioned that there are LEECHES in the water. OMG!
Another tip: “Once you reach water stay left. Do not cross the stream at the junction. Left is right, and right is wrong. The water is exactly 3.2 miles from the trail head and the falls are approximately 1 mile further. The falls were a little tricky to find, not knowing exactly where they were, so just stay left and HIGH on the trail. When it looks like the trail ends at a dry stream bed, cross and look up for the trail to continue. Don’t follow the stream or bother climbing over rocks until you get to the pools. It’s a gorgeous hike.”
We ran out of time before finding the waterfall and needed to head back up the hill if we wanted to get our ride back home. We opted for the ride obviously. I would recommend doing this hike in the cooler months after a good rainfall BUT make sure you call in to see if the gate is closed or not.
Here is a map of our hike. The far right in red is where the gate is and also represents our car ride up the mountain. There are markers for the mines and the green is what we actually walked:
This car ride saved us one huge headache of a hike up a long, rigorous mountain. The drive is gorgeous by the way:
Sage came with us!
We came across a destroyed homestead. I was told that it was the home of a family that overlooked one of the mines during operations back in the day. They eventually moved away and it was abandoned for sometime until some people cooking meth inside burned it down. What an obnoxious shame!
This is where the trailhead is:
Super-nutritious Lion’s Mane fungus:
We found black tourmaline!
It was at this point when not wearing proper hiking shoes started kicking in. Make sure to own good hiking boots! And wear thick socks. I had HUGE blisters on the bottoms of my feet:
My friend Bernie ran a mile down the hill at sunset to try to find the mine. He was successful but it is completely sealed up. There is another mine that is still in use nearby. You cannot visit it as there are people on the property 24/7: