no dogs

nature trips

wild flowers


trail running





kid friendly


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.

3 days ago

Male, 35 (and female companion, 29)
6', 240 lbs
Fitness level: average
Hiking experience: intermediate
Date of hike: 02/10/18
Pace: easy/moderate
Total time: A little under 3 hours (app clocked us at 2:35 movement time)
Weather temp: Didn't track, it was probably around 60-70

Definitely do this counterclockwise, starting from the Azalea Glen Road trail and make your way up to Conejos and then to the Fire Road (paved road).

Beautiful scenery, one of the very few hikes in San Diego where you can actually see trees and pines. Huge, beautiful pine trees!

The hike for the most part is easy until the climb at the end, it is quite demanding on your cardio, especially if you're not in optimal shape. But just take it easy and you'll be fine.

Highly recommend this hike, probably my favorite in SD.

This is on the top list for hikes. Overall the hike was easy and at the end was rewarded with some AMAZING VIEWS. To start you will need to park across the street at the campgrounds. There is a $10 fee for the day use parking. Once parked you can cross the street and start your journey to the top. The hike has lots of shade as you go through the switchbacks to the top. Make sure to take in the views as you work your way to the top, there is lots to of awesome viewpoins. Once you get to the top it is a narrow staircase to the top viewpoint where it is about a 6ft x 6ft area. For our hike it was not to busy and we were able to go up right away. If it is busy, you might endup needing to wait a little in order to prevent going to the viewpoint while it is too crowded. When we went up it was about 50 degrees for the day. I wore a light jacket and it was perfect for the hike. You get a little warm while in the sun, and cold while in the shade / breeze. Prepare for lots of wind at the top! I will be back, awesome hike.

Stellar views like mentioned before. Easy hike, trail is nicely kept up. Summit has a marker . The views are breath taking. Great family hike. No pets allowed thou.I feel and think this is one of San Diego’s hidden gems. A must do even if it’s short and sweet

Great for family. All ages. It’s an easy hike but my son and I ran it. So that made it not so easy. So if you want to burn calories and get a good workout then run it. But if you’re going with the family just to enjoy the views then it’s still just as great but not so hard.

5 days ago

Great hike, nice views, well marked by signs, and parking was easy. I do have to warn that a swarm of bees have made a home inside the engine. I sat down for maybe 3 seconds before noticing them beginning to pour out.

Beautiful, mostly secluded trail. Hiked Saturday of president’s weekend and only saw a handful of fellow hikers and a couple people on horses. Slow and fairly gradual incline with great views at the top!

On my top 5!

Excelent trail, we loved it. The views from the top were amazing. We did it before 10:00 AM so it was not so crowded. Must do it again!!

Id give it a 3.5 star review only because we did an out & back up the paved fire road instead of the loop...super steep & hard on the lower body. Still doable, but so boring! Take the fire road on your way down the loop! Also, theres huge gaudy satellite antennas at the top with a barbed wire gated fence. Totally ruins the views at the peak trying to dodge cables in your photos. About halfway or so up (or down) the fire road theres a cute little lookout with a bench. The views are breathtaking! Youll want to take a minute to take it all in!

The views at the top are sooooo worth it! Took about 2 hours out & back. Had lunch at the peak. One of my top 5 favorite hikes so far!

12 days ago

Made a great loop from Airplane Monument back to Green Valley Falls by hiking UP the southern part of the West Mesa Trail to Arroyo Seco (there’s a short cut back down Fox Trail, not shown on your Topo map) and the Arroyo Seco Fire Road takes you back to the campground. We parked at the Sweetwater parking lot to start up monument trail and we went across Green Valley campground at the end to explore the falls a bit before returning to the car. This created a loop just under 9.5 miles.

Great hike for beginners or those out of shape. Very well maintained trail and switchbacks to make the hike easy. The 360 view at the top is quite good. Took me about 45 minutes to a hour to summit and I'm out of shape. Had the top to myself which is always special. This was in February during a sun set.

this was an easy moderate hike. Most of the hike is on the north or northeast side of the mountain. With the sun being lower in the sky for this time of year it made for a good amount of shade on the trail in the late morning early afternoon. I hiked mid week and had the trail all to myself on the way up and only saw a handful of people on the way down. Excellent views along the way and 360 view at the top. Great hike!

We took a different route to get to cuyamaca peek. We parked at Paso picacho campground and hiked up a maintenance/fire Road. This made it a pretty easy climb. It was Steep at the end, but no big deal because the road was so well-maintained. amazing views and pleasant hike. This was about a 6 mile out and back.

We did this loop counter clockwise, which allowed us to go down the very steep and boring paved fire road at the end. The steepest and rockiest part in this direction was after the spring.

25 days ago

Did this hike with my girlfriend on Saturday, 01/27/18. Not terribly difficult until the incline on the Lookout fire road just before the top. Took us 4h, 49m moving time. 9.2 miles, avg speed 1.9 mph, top speed 4.5 mph. Came up Azalea Glen Trail, Took Conejos Trail to the Fire Road up, and also on the way back (no interest in taking that paved fire road all the way down). Took Azalea Glen Road (dirt) from the Azalea Spring Jct down to the campground. Coming down was about 1.5 hours total with stops and picture taking. Most of the trails were great and a nice mix. Saw 2 deer a mile in and 6 at the campground at sundown, also Wild Turkeys on the side of Middle Peak. Views up top were amazing. Windy and cold, but there's a lumber bench set up behind the building, we ate lunch at. Good windbreaker from the Santa Ana winds..
(View recording for route taken)

25 days ago

Not sure why it says difficult, it definitely wasn’t hard. Very beautiful hike though! Took about 3 hours to complete. I went during the Santa Ana winds so it was suuuuuuper windy and cold at the top. Will definitely be back!

26 days ago

Good trail with switchbacks to make the hike easy for family. Nice camping sites at bottom so you can hike this and other trails and leave your tent/RV to come back to.

New favorite hike!!

Nice & Easy & Fun with great views!

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