The beautiful forest and mountain meadows of Palomar Mountain State Park are in northern San Diego County on the west side of Palomar Mountain. Large pine, fir and cedar trees make the park one of the few areas in southern California with a Sierra Nevada-like atmosphere. Elevation within the park averages 5,000 feet above sea level, making evenings cool even during the summer. A number of vista points offer sweeping panoramic views both westerly toward the ocean and inland toward the desert. In addition to spectacular views of the Pacific, Palomar Mountain State Park offers camping, picnicking, hiking, and fishing (trout) in Doane Pond. From Highway 76, either of two roads can be used to reach the park. The one from Rincon Springs (County Road S6) is scenic but rather steep and winding. County Road S7 from Lake Henshaw is longer, but its gentle grade makes it more suitable for heavily loaded vehicles and those pulling trailers. To the east, beyond the limits of the park, is the world-famous Palomar Observatory and the highest point of the 6,100-foot mountain. Many park visitors make the eight-mile trip up the road to the observatory, which is operated by the California Institute of Technology. The observatory is open to the public free of charge from 9am to 4pm daily. The park is open from dawn until dusk. The Day Use Annual Pass is accepted at this park.
The trail was well maintained and never hard. There are some parts where the incline is heavier, which is the only reason to rate as moderate. The wow comes from the incredible array of different terrains and views. We went from walking in the clouds in desolate landscape with the charred remains of dead trees sticking out like bones, to strolling through the meadow, to walking through dense forrest. Did not get the view to the ocean because of the clouds, but stunning beauty nonetheless. Check for ticks, we got bit. Don't forget cash for parking and park fee.
Trail was great, not too difficult. The best part was all the cool trees . The part I didn't like was the part of the French trail where it goes to a resting spot between 2 waterfalls was closed and they could of had a sign or could of said something when we checked in because it was 5 miles into the hike.
What a trail!!! Definitely not a moderate hike - more towards the challenging/hard side. Very beautiful! The gradual transition from dry to snow was an awesome treat. Took my sons with me, ages 11, 8 & 8 (twins). They did awesome! We hit the trail at 0630 and returned at 1550.
NOTE: I would not recommend this trail for young kids. My older boys have been hiking since very very young and I've already started my younger three (4, 3 & 1) on smaller trails.
Great trail. I'd rate it mostly easy with a couple sections of moderate. it was 45° when I started which was perfect. I saw zero other hikers which made it even better. just like another reviewer stated, this route is a combo of about 5 different trails, all well marked. grand vistas, meadows, forest. this one has it all. the mountains to the Northeast were all snow covered. Also, I saw 10 deer on the hike. The last group was 7 deer and they could care less I was there. I was about 30 feet away from them for 10 minutes. Very enjoyable day.