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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.

Easy hike; even my three year old was able to make it to the top on his own. Nice views

The best part of this trail is the Sugar Pine trail section that starts across the street from the Lake Cuyamaca Restaurant and goes to the fire road close to the top of the peak. If you're interested in peaking it, the .2 miles to the top is very difficult because it's extremely over grown.

hiking
4 days ago

Easy well maintained trail. 360 degree panoramic views. This is a popular trail, leave early to avoid the crowds. $10 day use fee to park at Paco Picacho campgrounds.

The mileage is not hard, but staying on the trail is a little tough. There are good rock piles, yellow, and blue tape to keep you on track. The markers are better than using GPS, but take your time to see the signs. The fence is down in spring of 2017 so don't stray into the private property. Once you see the green fence go right and look for rocks. Once you get close to the waterfall there isn't much of a trail so you will need to push your way through brush. Stay on the left side of the water and don't cross to soon. It is a nice little adventure.

on Cuyamaca Peak Loop

5 days ago

Rewarding view

It's really not that hard. And you get to be the highest person in San Diego! Totally worth it. Amazing view. Gets pretty slippery in winter season.

Great rock climbing at the top if you're into that.

hiking
11 days ago

hiking
12 days ago

Great views at top. Azalea Trail is beautiful.