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East of San Diego, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park offers respite from the dry Southern California landscape. The park’s 24,700 acres of oak and conifer forests and expansive meadows are broken by running streams. Located in the Peninsular Range of mountains, Cuyamaca Peak, at 6,512 feet, is the second highest point in San Diego County. From the peak, visitors can see Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to the east or the Pacific coastline to the west. Over half of the park's acreage is designated as state wilderness. The two family camps, Paso Picacho and Green Valley, are open and on the reservation system spring through fall. Green Valley sits at an elevation of 4,000 feet and has a creek which runs through the middle of the campground. The day-use area offers sets of cascades and shallow pools, great for water play on hot days. Green Valley has 74 campsites. Paso Picacho, 5 miles north, sits at an elevation of 5,000 feet. The most popular hikes start from this camp, including the 2 mile hike up Stonewall Peak (elevation 5,700 feet), and the 3.5 mile hike up Cuyamaca Peak (elevation 6,512 feet), both which offer breathtaking views of the deserts to the east, the coast to the west, and Lake Cuyamaca at the bottom. Lake Cuyamaca, operated by the Helix Water District, is two miles north of Paso Picacho and offers boating and fishing. Paso Picacho campground has 85 campsites. Day-use visitors may use the picnic areas provided at the campgrounds for $8 per vehicle. The receipt is good for the entire park for the day. The picnic areas offer tables, restrooms, and barbeques. Visitors may also park in legal turnouts along the highway and hike for free. Fire is not allowed anywhere except in the developed picnic areas and campgrounds. The beautiful park offers camping and hiking in an oak woodland forest, with a sprinkling of pines and lovely meadows with creeks. There are over 100 miles of trails which accommodate hikers, bikers, and equestrians. The Day Use Annual Pass is accepted at this park. The park is open from dawn until dusk. Dogs on a leash are allowed on the Cuyamaca Peak Fire Road. Dogs are allowed in picnic areas and in the campgrounds (except the primitive trail camps), but they are not allowed on trails or in park buildings.

This was a beautiful experience hiking to the top of the waterfall but I would definitely not recommended this trail to anyone that has not done any physical activity in weeks or months, myself included. The hike, on the way back required, a lot of physical endurance. Well worth it but not going back until I have had some training again.

great hike but definitely not easy.

5 days ago

It was fun, although I lost my phone, if anybody finds it, let me know, it is a white iPhone 5 in a purple Otterbox case. thank you!

Just went yesterday very fun and there's was tons of water but if you don't mind rock climbing and some trail blazing you can make it to the top of the falls. Your legs will tell you all about how it was the next day when you wake up tho, worth it.

amazing hike will do again. I'm definitely what you'd consider a newbie for hiking but this was relatively easy. got my heart pumping but didn't hate my life. there was a little snow so that was nice !

rock climbing
12 days ago

It's a fairly fun hike with a great payoff (the falls), but the trail isn't maintained. Ropes were in bad condition or missing, the trail was highly dangerous in several areas, and once you get to the river, is gone entirely.

However, there is a trail marked with blue and blue and white checkered tape half way up the main rope face that keeps you half way up the mountain and drops you right at the base of the falls. I suggest taking the more common trail on the way in for the experience (boulder scrambling was fun) and this trail on the way out (saves time and energy.)

DO NOT BRING DOGS ON THIS TRAIL.
DO BRING PLENTY OF WATER OR A WATER FILTER.
DO NOT OVEREXERT YOURSELF. Know your limits. This trail is notorious for deaths, heatstroke, and air lifts.

Watch out for poison oak once you stray from the trail, don't make the same mistake I did.

12 days ago

If u like hiking this is all you need

Great Hike!! I love the variety of trails and the steep inclines really gives you the cardiovascular workout you desire. I highly recommend this hike.

Had a fun time hiking this! Would suggest working up to this hike or you will be very sore. Has a steep trail to base of falls then a roughly marked trail/climb up to falls. Great time and falls are full of water and flowing from recent rains! Take plenty of water and a lunch! You will need to rest and refuel for the steep climb back out.

hiking
14 days ago

Loved this hike. Went 2 days after rainfall and it was great having some greenery and a little moisture everywhere. It was fairly easy in the beginning 30% of the trail then became more difficult from there on. The trail was rocky and seemed to have a stream going through the trail which made it that much more fun. The peak was beautiful as was expected. We took the paved road down and we are extremely glad we didn't take it up because there isn't much to see. We started at Azalea Glen, then Azalea Springs, then Conejos and busted a right on the paved road when it met up with us to the top. Was really a special hike. Highly recommend. Another good part about this hike was actually the drive up to the trail. You pass through a little town called Julian which could be a whole separate review all in itself. Pretty fun day! We totaled about 9.0 miles up and back including a few off trail ventures.

14 days ago

hiking
14 days ago

Great huge 8.36 RT trail loop hike and 1,059 ft. elevation gains covering two parks; Anza-Borrego State Park and Rancho Cuyamaca State Park!