wild flowers

nature trips

trail running




no dogs

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.

6 days ago

7 days ago

Excellent hike. Nice breeze in the afternoon even with temps in the mid-80's. Lots of butterflies today. Nice to see cedars, firs, and pines that weren't touched by the fires. Easy to miss the Conejos Trail if you're not paying attention.

Great trail that runs along riparian habitat, small groves of oaks, meadows and into upland scrub. The trail was a bit overgrown with vegetation but we loved it and only encountered 3 other people on a Sunday. Great birding and a decent portion was in the shade which helped protect us from the heat. The flies were out in force, so you might want to bring bug spray and also watch out for some poison oak and rattlesnakes. The elevation increase was spaced out so it was a very easy hike.

Great trail- a new favorite! It wasn't steep at all, not too hot (August late afternoon), and had fantastic views. We barely noticed we were ascending a mountain until we were at the top. It's very gradual and pleasant. We also didn't run into anyone else while we were hiking. Highly recommend!

10 days ago

11 days ago

13 days ago

Me and my 6 year old son loved the view from peak! We took azalea road to go up and took fire road on the way down because we saw some black clouds with lighting coming towards us I thought we should hurry.

Loved this trail. We hiked it late July, which was hot, so bring lots of water. Parts of the trail have shade, which we took advantage of by resting and fueling up. We saw wildlife, lots of trees, and great vistas. Coming down the fire access roads wasn't as scenic or enjoyable as the actual trails, but still a great hike.

21 days ago

Turned into a long, hot loop. From Green Valley ($10) to Monument to West Mesa to Fox Trail to Arroyo Seco to Pine Ridge to Green Valley (6.5 mi). Pine Ridge trail looks easy on the map -- not so in practice. Stay on Fire Road for an easier descent. Airplane Monument was a nice picture stop. Trail a bit overgrown. Long pants to protect the legs would be nice if not for the July heat.

22 days ago

28 days ago

Fun to watch the soaring vultures and ravens. Insects (flying termites?) at the top not as enjoyable.

1 month ago