wild flowers

nature trips




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

12551 Highway 79 in Descanso, CA 91916 is the address of the Paso Picacho Camground where you can park. It is $10 to park there but they have decent restrooms and running water. I have hiked to Cuyamaca Peak 3 other times taking the Lookout Fire Trail, which is very steep, hot and so hard on my knees. The Lookout Fire Trail is also pretty open so it doesn't quite feel like a nature trail. I did not know there was other trails that lead to the peak until recently. So this beautiful warm June Saturday morning, A friend and I decided to take the Azalea Glen Loop to the Azalea Springs Trail to the Conejos Trail up to Cuyamaca Peak and back down the Lookout Fire Road for a total of 7 1/2 miles and 1,700 ft elevation gain. It was 4 1/2 miles to the peak taking the trails up and 3 miles down the Lookout Fire Road. We were some of only ones on the these trails going up. I think we passed two other people. It was a little warm but there was a nice breeze so it was very bearable. The trails were nice and shaded part of the way up. There was a lot of wildflowers and a lot of butterflies. It was so peaceful. The views at the top were worth the work! I don't think I'll ever take the Lookout Fire Road up again when you have so many beautiful trails to choose from. If you want to get to Cuyamaca Peak, definitely check out the trails!

Marching up all that miserable, hard ass pavement is totally worth the view! First time I ever saw the Salton Sea. I did this one in skate shoes, no boots needed. I'd recommend them though in the winter. I'm from the Midwest, and I hate walking on snowy/icy sidewalks. I couldn't imagine walking a snowy sidewalk all the way up a mountain. I didn't realize at the time there were alternate trails to the top, I might have to go back!

Did this one twice. Once in the snow, once in blistering heat. Both times were a blast! The stairway to the summit is the coolest part. Be careful up there if it's iced over. Slip under that railing and you're gonna slide down 1,200 vertical feet. Despite being forested, there's not much shade. So take necessary steps to protect from the sun, it's surprising how hot it gets in this area in the summer. You'd think the higher elevation would make it cooler, but don't underestimate it. Great views, and challenging enough as a day hike. Worth the drive!

Good short trail even on a hot day. New growth from winter rains provide a little shade. Flying termite ants were swarming at the peak so I wasn't able to sit and enjoy the view. Bring water.

Gorgeous trail! Currently pretty buggy in the swampy areas near water source and still has swarms of flying ants at peak. Very lush and gorgeous otherwise. We were able to enjoy time at top by going to left of Peak and finding some rocks that were below the swarms. Also go early if want to beat the summer heat.

Worthwhile hike but hiking on a paved fire road is painful. Take the trails

Trails up were great, fire road down on the paved road was really hard on the legs. View from top was ok but a bit hazy.

9 days ago

on Stonewall Peak Trail

9 days ago

it was a really nice and easy hike! it is absolutely gorgeous and is mostly covered by shade and a nice breeze! the only thing is the trail is very thin in most spots and is quite overgrown around it. so if you were are wearing shorts, plants will constantly be brushing against your legs, but i would say it is totally worth because of the view!!

Don't you dare take the paved road up...

It's an easy hike. The map from the San Diego Reader website was very helpful. The trail is extremely narrow and overgrown with grasses. I would recommend wearing long pants in order to help protect your legs from being scratched up.