Sweetwater Interpretive Loop

San Diego NWR entrance sign on Millar Ranch Road

The Sweetwater Interpretive Loop on the San Diego NWR is a great place to start exploring the refuge.

This area of the refuge is also locally known as the "old steel bridge" location. 

The refuge property does not start until you reach the green wooden informational kiosk, which leads you to a tiny bridge over Steele Canyon Creek, and up onto the rest of the trail system, eventually heading west to connect with the Sweetwater River Trail, on Sweetwater Authority land. 

Total mileage: approximately 3 miles, with only a few feet of elevation gain and loss.

It is a multiple use trail, so please be sure to yield to hikers if you are a mountain biker, and always yield to horses.

At the west end of the loop at about 1.5 miles from the steel bridge, you will see a large wooden footbridge you can cross over to peer down into the Sweetwater River. You may continue your loop back to your vehicle on a gravel and dirt road and see the other side of the river, or, return back where you came and complete the south side of the loop.

If you would like to access this particular trail from the south side, you can park at the Sweetwater Summit Campground site, and hike eastbound toward the refuge.


Directions (there is no address for this trailhead):


From the west (San Diego):

94 East toward Rancho San Diego. 94 eventually turns into Jamacha Rd.
When you get to the intersection of Campo Road (which also continues as HWY 94), turn right, passing the large shopping center on the left.
Shortly you will turn right on Singer Lane, and arrive at the small parking area right before the old steel bridge.
This parking lot is directly across from the McGrath Family YMCA (you can also plug this into your GPS).
Park, then walk across the bridge and turn right to start your hike!

From the east (El Cajon):

Head west on Jamacha until you get to Campo Rd (HWY 94) and turn left.
Turn right on Singer Ln. and park in the small lot. Follow the rest of the above directions.

From the South (Jamul/Dulzura/Campo):

Head North on HWY 94 (Campo Rd.), and after passing the old steel bridge, immediately turn left onto Singer Lane. Please be cautious as this is a dangerous turn and motorists often drive at high speeds.

From the north:

There are several freeways that can take you south where it meets up with HWY 94 East. Follow above directions from there.