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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.

Amazing trail! Definitely not for beginners, though. There are a couple parts where you're ascending or descending what is almost a flat wall and a few sections where you're on a cliff edge (still walking, not hanging, but it's a narrow path).

Be sure to bring along plenty of water for everyone and wear appropriate shoes. The path separates and all the separate paths wind through the same valley, so just make sure you're headed in the right direction on a path that is safe for you. There are markers, but several different ones (pink arrows, white arrows, pink flags), so just stay aware of which way you need to go (follow the riverbed, which is more difficult on the way back because the river goes left and you need to go right to get out of the valley).

All in all, it was a pleasant hike. Great atmosphere, beautiful views, and a nice breeze. However, we went the day after rainfall, so it was cooler than usual. There are signs mentioning that the temperature can't hit 140 at the peak of the season, so check the weather before you go and plan accordingly and you should have a good time.

This is a pretty tough trail. The way to the falls is fun with some challenges. The trail is marked with spray painted arrows. The falls were dry when we went but we still enjoyed it. The hike back is hard. Bring a lot of water and go early to beat the heat. Gloves will help for using the ropes to climb. Overall it took us 3.5 hours and we stayed at the falls for a bit to relax.

Spectacular scenic and well maintained route. Just hike this, you will be glad you did.

Hiked w my 3 and 5 year old daughters. 5 year old made it no problem. Scenic switchbacks the whole way. The top have beautiful views

Excellent hiking trails for beginners and/or someone who just wants to enjoy a relaxing walk in nature.

This hike is gorgeous but not for beginners! We did the route the map shows, which is the Fire road to the peak, then Los Conejos for much of the way down and Azaleas loop back to the park entrance. Stopping to snack and take pictures at the top we took 4 hours. I definitely recommend good hiking socks because the way down is VERY rocky, even with good hiking boots my husband ended up with blisters. Don't even attempt in gym shoes unless you plan on taking the paved fire road up and back. The loop goes through a wide variety of scenery, although parts are a bit overgrown the trail is very clear.

hiking
19 days ago

We've heard so much about this trail and after hiking Devils Punch Bowl & Potato Chip Rock & some other difficult trails we decided to finally give it a try. This hike was awesome however I 100% recommend hiking shoes (NOT your average every day gym shoes) gloves, water, snacks & a hat. We started at 10:30 it wasn't that hot but hot enough to get fatigue going back up. We went to all the pools but there wasn't any water but going back is really confusing, they tell you to follow the pink ribbon but there was a coupe of diff pink ribbon trails & we ended up getting lost which scared the hell out of us considering it was already 2 in the afternoon. Going down & up the powder dirt made it difficult, the rope really helped so make sure you bring gloves. I do not recommend for people who haven't hiked before, it's def worth it, we are so happy we did it!

Very unique hike

on West Mesa

hiking
23 days ago

Hiked this Labor Day 2016 with a group of friends. Cool hike with amazing views of Cuyamaca Peak and Stonewall Peak along with other scenic views. We hiked the loop via Airplane Monument Trail and racked up 5.38 miles! Airplane Monument atop was worth the hike to honor the fallen U.S. servicemen

hiking
23 days ago

Hiked this Labor Day 2016 with a group of friends. Cool hike with amazing views of Cuyamaca Peak and Stonewall Peak along with other scenic views. We hiked the loop via West Mesa trail and racked up 5.38 miles! Airplane Monument atop was worth the hike to honor the fallen U.S. servicemen

Quick fun hike with sweet views. Parking directly across the street from the trailhead for 8 dollars.

it's definitely not an easy hike. but you will be glad you did it at the end. it's more of a work out, leg day, than the gym. my legs were so days after lol
just bring tons of water and granola bars. or make sandwiches of going on a cute little date and eat them by the waterfall. you'll be filthy dirty by the time you are done. at least we were. but then we fell a lot and we are pretty good in shape lol

Only 3 stars in my book for these reasons.
- mostly fire road with two single track trails along the way
-not alot of trees, most of them dead from fires
-no trail to the summit itself. That was the biggest disappointed.
-best views of the lake were early on the way up but no views from near the top. If your doing the loop you just missed the only photo op
-I ve hiked dozens of peaks in San Diego County and none were more disappointing then this one
Pros
-got out at 10 am and saw zero other hikers along the way
-only hike I've actually spotted wild animals in broad daylight. Saw 3 deer and also a fox.

Easy trail with wonderful views. Parking across the street is 8 bucks good for all day.