Best of 2000: Best Hike In The Chaparral

Agua Tibia Wilderness

Near Temecula

"Chaparral" is the name given to the assemblage of tough, drought-resistant, deep-rooted, intricately branched shrubs that cling to coastal and foothill slopes throughout Central and Southern California. As with much of our local natural vegetation, chaparral's charms become apparent only after periods of sustained rainfall. By March ceanothus (wild lilac) will be in bloom, spreading plumes of while and blue over the hillsides. Out Temecula way, in a northern portion of the Cleveland National Forest, lies the Agua Tibia Wilderness, 16,000 acres of hillsides covered by growths of chaparral so dense that trails there must be cleared of overgrowth almost every year. Two of these trails, named Dripping Springs and Wild Horse, swing up into the chaparral from Dripping Springs Campground, ten miles east of Interstate 15 at Temecula. In the spring of any wet year, wildflowers associated with the chaparral plant community burgeon shamelessly here. Call Cleveland National Forest, (760) 788-0250 for more information.

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