The Santa Margarita River, aka Temecula Creek / Temecula River, is one of the last free-flowing rivers in Southern California.
The park is said to contain 1400 acres with 14 miles of trails that loop and crisscross the river. Not sure about that, but I do know that the main trail is about 5.5 total out and back. There are a number of offshoot trails, but it’s hard to imagine that they add up to 3x as much distance…
The main trail is a pleasant meander along the river under a canopy of trees.
There are a couple of swimming holes within the first mile or so if you care to take a dip. Before too long you’ll encounter your first of a half dozen creek crossings. Since the terrain is mostly smooth path or sandy, you might consider Tevas, instead of running shoes or hikers as you’ll be taking them on & off frequently. (That being said, if you don’t mind getting your running shoes wet, it’s not a bad spot for a little trail trot.) There are also a couple of lovely little oases along the way.
Apparently, this river corridor is known for raptor sightings and home to deer and other large mammals. We saw one shy turtle basking on rocks and a little fishey who seemed to be guarding her eggs – see video below.
Certainly a great spot to spend an afternoon, have a picnic or take a dip. (I wouldn’t drive too far for it, but if you’re in the area by all means.)
Note: It gets super hot in Fallbrook in the summer, be prepared and bring water.
BEWARE: Abundant poison oak & quick sand???
Distance: ~5.5 out & back
Difficulty: Easy – family friendly
Location: Fallbrook near De Luz Road & Sandia Creek Dr intersection, right on Sandia Creek Dr. then the parking area and trailhead are 1.2 miles ahead on the right.