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.
Hiked Azalea Glenn to Conejos trail to the peak. Conejos was very scenic and fun to hike. My 5 yr old little girl conquered this hike in about 5 hrs. My 3 yr old was able to do about 1/2 and 1/2 on my back. The worse part was going down the paved fire trail... knee buster for sure, not scenic... a death march back to the car! Lol
A decent hike. Took us about 5 hrs w 2 kids aged 3 and 5. My 5 yr old little girl conquered the whole 6 miles all the way to the peak. The Conejos Trail was beautiful from Azalea glenn/springs. The hike down the paved fire road from the peak was more brutal than going up! I'd do it again when my 3 year old can pull her own weight! Haha
Very fun trail. The stream is all dried up but it was still worth the hike . It's very easy to get lost so be careful. I had to follow the trail of garbage to actually get back. Started at 8 got back around 10:30. Don't forget to bring a lot of water. Happy hiking
Niko S. on Stonewall Mine / Lake Cuyamaca Hike
We've hiked this trail this Saturday, September 24. It was a nice day for our group. Some of us are physically challenged, so we took our time. Started from the parking right off 79, and headed towards the "little island". We've walked around the island, and headed towards southeast for another loop. After getting back to the first point before the little island, we've gone back to the parking. Some of us spotted turkeys, and it was very pleasant trail overall.
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.