Dripping Springs Campground in Cleveland National Forrest
By Linda McKinley
Recently I took a little jaunt to visit this campground in my quest to locate yet another equestrian camping option. Just a mere 14 miles on the 79 from the heart of Temecula this darling little campground has 24 campsites with 5-9 more primitive sites located in the equestrian/overflow area. This had to be one of the cleanest campgrounds I’ve ever seen! Absolutely no trash anywhere on the ground or on the trails! The restrooms are vault toilets and are immaculate. There are several water bibs with potable water, tables, fire pits and BBQ’s, (no hook-ups). The crew and camp hosts certainly deserve the Good Housekeeping Award! There are no reservations or check-in/out times for the fee of $15.00 per day and no additional costs for dogs and horses.
All equestrian sites are pull-through on a paved driveway. One site had two corrals and there were only 3 other sites with single corrals. No shade for the horses, but plenty of trees around the sites for your rig or to set up your chairs under. The road through the campground is paved and there are two cul-de-sacs for turning the larger rigs around.
I called the ClevelandNational Forest @ 858-673-6180 before hand and was pleasantly served by Cova Becker, who emailed me a trail map and campground information. My only regret for this adorable camp ground was the fact that there really are not a lot of trail miles for horses. You can ride up the Dripping Springs trail and get spectacular views of the valley and VailLake. The trail is rocky in places and barefoot people should boot up. The farther you go up Dripping Springs, the narrower the trail becomes. You can make it up the trail in about an hour to an hour and a half , and it probably only takes about an hour to come back down. There is an additional trail called Wildhorse Trail, which we didn’t get too far on because it became way too narrow for horse and rider. These trails are great for hikers and there were several out and about - all who were very polite and courteous to us equestrians. They seemed to know that horses have the right of way. We also investigated a road that went up above the camp ground, but it eventually dead ended.
On the plus side, Dripping Springs is only 27 miles north of WarnerSprings, so it would make a great place to camp then trailer to WarnerSprings to ride the PCT for the day. You can park your rig at Warner Springs high school parking lot, ride to your heart’s content, then take the short drive back to camp. Or you can do like we did - just explore the trails on horseback and foot, walk the dogs, and visit with some of the friendliest campers ever. A nice, restful, now-key weekend for sure.