Da Road! Da Road!!
The Forest Service messed up Big Time when they failed to route a formal trail up and through this canyon drainage. I compounded their error by failing to check out the canyon for the first seven years hiking here.
This canyon has water flowing in it... year round! Now, that in itself is exceptional.
The official route (T103) moves out of Caballero Canyon and climbs across the upper meadow and on up to West Side Road (FR90) via an old Jeep track. The road is an ugly scar... a slippery mess in wet weather and even a steep slide during dry weather. It follows the main city water pipe line... and provides ready access for illegal ATV use.
This alternative route up to West Side Road allows for a split option. You can hike the four miles up T104/T103 to the lower riparian area...
...then follow the official trail up the jeep track to the concrete water trough below the upper meadow. At that point, instead of turning to the right and remaining on the official trail, proceed straight ahead on the obvious old road bed. It crests the hill then drops away down into the next drainage. Though not as obvious, the old track curves around and up and over into Caballero Canyon north, crossing the canyon bottom and following the drainage on a bench bulldozed out for the pipeline. This old roadbed/pipeline track continues for over a mile, running nicely above the narrow canyon bottom. Eventually, the roadbed ends, and you have to convert to a nice game trail on the other side of the drainage... easy to do at the top of the small meadow area. That track will carry you on up to the dripping grotto area below the large waterfall. To scale the fall, move over to the far left (north) side of the canyon and find the trail that runs more or less along with the water pipeline... now running above ground. The trail hugs the cliffs and winds you nicely to the top of the falls. You can climb from there immediately up to West Side road to the north, or enjoy the short forested track in the drainage that will lead you to the hairpin turn of the road 1/4 mile further up the canyon.
...Back down at the Riparian area...
...alternative to the jeep road:
...instead of following the official trail, stay in the creek bottom... and follow it up and around into North Caballero Canyon, turning right into that drainage, and follow it up to where it connects with the pipeline route. At that point you can remain in the narrow canyon bottom, or enjoy the open pipe road track.
Following this route you are effectively in the drainage that provides the traverse up and over to Hell Hole. If you want to do the traverse as part of your loop (going up to Hell Hole Mine and looping around and back down Caballero Canyon) instead of turning to the right up into the North Caballero Canyon, go straight, always bearing to your left at any split... it is narrow, steep and gets you up to the old mine site (Hell Hole trail #219)
Caballero Canyon North: since the canyon split is over four miles into the hike from the trailhead, consideration should be given to exactly which looping routes you plan to do.
The joy of this route: running water... hardwood colors... canopy shade... meadow routes... and it tops out at a waterfall! The big surprise: Da Road! If they had not bulldozed out the pipeline route, this canyon would not be fun. Who Knew... I do now!
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.