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.
Teresa A. on Pine Mountain Loop Trail
Scenic hike. Not a "shaded" hike. On one ridge there is an area of pine trees to seek refuge on a hot day, we didn't go up to that area being that it was the last weekend of deer hunting and we were told that the hunters were in that area, next time.
I would like to hike through this trail to Cuyamaca next time. Park your vehicle at Pioneer Mail picnic site. Plenty of parking and vault type bathroom facilities. You need a parking pass to park there. ( 5 dollars), you can purchase one at the ranger office in Laguna.
This is hands down my favorite hike in San Diego County. I have done this hike more times than I can count and never seem to get tired of the hike or the view. Great views all the way up and down from the summit with a breathtaking view from the top.
All uphill and fairly steep to the peak on a paved road, but still good views along the way. Great views from the peak though. Conejos trail on the way back was much more scenic and easier on the feet, though a little rocky with a fair amount of scree. Good to see the forest making a comeback after the fires. Afterwards went to Julian for an awesome chicken pot pie dinner at rongranch (spelling ?) restaurant and some moms apple pie. Picked up dudleys fruit bars on the drive home.