Palomar Observatory Trail

MODERATE 21 reviews
#17 of 85 trails in

Palomar Observatory Trail is a 4.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Aguanga, CA that offers scenic views. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking and trail running.

4.1 miles 698 feet Out & Back

hiking

trail running

views

hiking
2 days ago

What a hike. My son and I dropped my wife at the airport early this morning so we had the day to ourselves so I decided to on this hike. Terrain isn't to bad trail can be confusing at times but as long you keep your eyes open for signs of a trail you will be fine. We also enjoyed the observatory at the top.

hiking
13 days ago

Fun hike from campground to observatory. Rate between easy to moderate(uphill) due to elevation.

hiking
1 month ago

I would rate easy to moderate. My 8 year old son and I hiked up and back w/out any issues.

8 months ago

9 months ago

Beautiful and easy hike! Snow on the ground and it was slippery on some spots.

hiking
10 months ago

Great trail. We took our 5 year old and 3 year old on this hike. Our 5 year old hiked the entire way up and need a little help riding on on our shoulders about half-way back. Our 3 year old was a champ and hiked 3/4 of the way up to the observatory and about half-way back. We carried him the rest of the way.

I would say this hike is more moderate or easy to moderate. It's definitely not the easiest hike I've done. But, it's a beautiful walk up a mountain through a shady forest. I highly recommend it.

hiking
10 months ago

Great hike. Trailhead was hard to find. Saw four cows on the trail but they ran as soon as they saw us! Would bring bug spray next time as it was pretty buggy in the beginning. Awesome views. We were the only ones on the trail all day so it was really nice.

10 months ago

Big fan of this trail. Being that it's in the Cleveland National Forest, it's feels light years removed from your typical SD hiking trail. Not really challenging, but it provides a great half-day getaway. As mentioned by another user, trailhead is a little tricky to find, but it's located to the right of the bathrooms that are directly across from the entrance to the campground (yet your have to loop around to access it).

1 year ago

1 year ago

1 year ago

Pros:
Fair amount of shade throughout the whole trail
A couple stunning sights of the mountains along the way
Lots of bluejays
Ends with the observatory

Cons:
Don't wear black when hiking this trail. It will make the hoards of flies absolutely unbearable (even with Bug Off spray.)
I would not categorize this as Easy. Lots of steady hills from campgrounds to observatory. Much easier the way back.

hiking
1 year ago

Hiked on Memorial Day 2015. Heres what you should know:
The drive up isnt great, especially if you get stuck slow vehilces. Beware of motorcycle racers who apparently love racing these roads dangerously fast. Saw one on the ground, traffic stopped by the atttending first responders.

Directions to trailhead on Alltrails was incorrect. Look for the Observatory campground and park there. The trailhead starting here is unmarked. Had to ask a ranger to find it. The trailhead resides in a wooden slit level fence between bathroom one and two.
The trail itself is mostly smooth and flat with few rocks. 90% shaded to the top, which is about 2.20 miles. Foot traffic was moderate. Saw virtually no wild life, just a lizard and birds. The trail ends at the Observatory. This is the only place the trail is marked. Also, although I you're at the top of the mountain, the views are virtually non existent.
Since its an out and back, and not a loop, i recorded only the way up to the summit. It is titled Palomar Observatory Trail.

Family friendly, saw children and plan on bring my 6 and 9 yo kids here.
Seeing the telescope was awesome and interesting. And the gift shop was worth the visit. Lastly, saw some interesting pine trees that I havnt seen before.

1 year ago

The weather in San Diego and surrounding communities was all foggy. Got to the trailhead and it was a gorgeous sunny day. Perfect hike for some altitude training. Definitely start at campsite trailhead for the ease of hiking down on the way back.

hiking
1 year ago

My husband and I took our 6, 10, and 12 yr old on this hike. We actually started at the Observatory and went down to the campsite. I would definitely recommend starting at the campsite so you're going downhill (and not up) on your way back. I ended up with a 6 yr old on my shoulders for 1/2 a mile. We had a great time overall and the hike took us 1 hr and 40 min to complete. The kids loved it. We'd go back for sure!

hiking
1 year ago

Took this hike with my lady and 3mo old baby. Made it no problem. Plenty of shade. The 200 foot telescope was a nice reward to visit once you've reached the top!

1 year ago

There was a lot of shade on this trail (for the San Diego area that is) but when I went in August it was ridiculously buggy :( There was a good viewpoint near the beginning of the trail, and the observatory at the end obviously, but other than that I'd describe it as "meh".. but I think that's because of my buggy bias. I wasn't able to enjoy myself thanks to those suckers. The views from the drive up Polamar and surrounding areas were much more of a highlight to me than the trail was.

hiking
2 years ago

My husband and I went for a hike with our 2 dogs. We got there around 2 pm so not many people on the trail. I found it a good workout but probably would not take my little dog again. Since its June the weather was very warm. Lots of trees but there were areas where the sun felt hot and no shade avail. I would go back.

hiking
2 years ago

Short easy hike through nice forest. Decent views.

hiking
2 years ago

Nice hike with beautiful views and plenty of shade. Only wildlife we saw was a couple of bluejays.

hiking
3 years ago

Our hike from the campground to the observatory and back was 5.1 miles, and took just over two hours. The hike was pleasant, mostly in the shade. There were some people, but not very many. We did come across a very angry rattlesnake, but avoided getting bitten. I'd rate the hike higher, but the drive to the campground was a pain, with numerous motorcycles on South Grade road flying up and down the road.