The beautiful forest and mountain meadows of Palomar Mountain State Park are in northern San Diego County on the west side of Palomar Mountain. Large pine, fir and cedar trees make the park one of the few areas in southern California with a Sierra Nevada-like atmosphere. Elevation within the park averages 5,000 feet above sea level, making evenings cool even during the summer. A number of vista points offer sweeping panoramic views both westerly toward the ocean and inland toward the desert. In addition to spectacular views of the Pacific, Palomar Mountain State Park offers camping, picnicking, hiking, and fishing (trout) in Doane Pond. From Highway 76, either of two roads can be used to reach the park. The one from Rincon Springs (County Road S6) is scenic but rather steep and winding. County Road S7 from Lake Henshaw is longer, but its gentle grade makes it more suitable for heavily loaded vehicles and those pulling trailers. To the east, beyond the limits of the park, is the world-famous Palomar Observatory and the highest point of the 6,100-foot mountain. Many park visitors make the eight-mile trip up the road to the observatory, which is operated by the California Institute of Technology. The observatory is open to the public free of charge from 9am to 4pm daily. The park is open from dawn until dusk. The Day Use Annual Pass is accepted at this park.
What a trail!!! Definitely not a moderate hike - more towards the challenging/hard side. Very beautiful! The gradual transition from dry to snow was an awesome treat. Took my sons with me, ages 11, 8 & 8 (twins). They did awesome! We hit the trail at 0630 and returned at 1550.
NOTE: I would not recommend this trail for young kids. My older boys have been hiking since very very young and I've already started my younger three (4, 3 & 1) on smaller trails.
Great trail. I'd rate it mostly easy with a couple sections of moderate. it was 45° when I started which was perfect. I saw zero other hikers which made it even better. just like another reviewer stated, this route is a combo of about 5 different trails, all well marked. grand vistas, meadows, forest. this one has it all. the mountains to the Northeast were all snow covered. Also, I saw 10 deer on the hike. The last group was 7 deer and they could care less I was there. I was about 30 feet away from them for 10 minutes. Very enjoyable day.
Jennifer R. on Scotts Cabin Trail
Nice hike. We started on the Cedar Trail to Scotts Cabin then took this down to Doane Pond back up Thunder Spring trail doing a sort of loop. The "Scotts Cabin" is just a pile of logs but marked so you know you reached it. Easy down hill, nice scenery.
This was actually a mixed trail hike. Sort of customized. Used Weir trailhead at the state campground, went to the weir, there was some poodle dog bush toward the beginning. Came half way back then climbed Baptist trail, this was kind of steep. Crossed the road then went to Scotts cabin trail, to a descent at the fork to Doane pond and back to the campground. It was about a 3.5 mile hike. Highly recommended. Easy to moderate.
Hiked almost 9 miles today. Weather was nice. Only saw about 10 people. Stuck to the perimeter trails to get the most distance. Not too much elevation. Baptist trail gained some elevation fairly quick but then leveled out. Boucher's Hill and the lookout is nice as well. I will be going back for more.