hiking

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nature trips

walking

wild flowers

wildlife

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birding

kid friendly

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.

hiking
20 hours ago

Trail needs some attention. Starting from Doane Pond and heading up there is a large tree across the trail, which appears to have been there a while. Hiking with the kids this was a challenge. This is the section with most of the elevation gain, and drop on the way out (if you choose to return this way). Some of the erosion controls built into the trail are loose or are partially washed out, giving the impression that this trail has not seen maintenance in some time. The upper portion of the trail is quite overgrown and rutted. Once you arrive at the Scotts Cabin Site, you will be greeted by a random pile of old logs, so set your expectations accordingly.

great loop hike, spectacular views to the west at the top of the hike

Me, my husband, and our 2-year-old did this loop trail today (2/4/18) and it was amazing. Beautiful views, plenty of shade, quite a few easier sections where our son was able to get out of our hiking backpack carrier and walk himself, and we only saw 3 other groups the entire 3-and-a-half miles (that may be due to it being Super Bowl Sunday though). The weather couldn't have been more perfect, it was between 66 and 70 degrees throughout our hike (we started at 10 and got done at 12:15). We will be back frequently.

We did this hike on 2/3/18. Great views and trails through the wooded forest and meadows. Boucher trail coming down from the tower has lots of trees and logs across requiring climbing over or under. The Weir/Diane Valley loop was great with some beautiful old trees. We decided to cut off the last Chimney Loop and headed back from Diane Pond on the Scott Cabin trail. 8.4 miles on our Apple Fitness app. Very pleasant and beautiful hike. Will do it again for sure. Weather is great right now!!!

off road driving
15 days ago

This trail is easy to moderate. I saw several no trespassing signs but I spent a few hours here, spoke to several people, and no one stopped me. Plenty of amazing scenery. Only downside and why I rated this trail four stars is the litter including large amounts of glass and shell casings. Be wary in areas where you see any debris.

Great hike. The weir house was absolutely amazing, be careful on the rocks at the house, they are extremely slippery.

Great hike. A little confusing as the trail is not well marked and forks a few times. VERY windy and cool/cold (in January). Bring your ear warmer and gloves for the last 2-3 miles to the lookout tower.

hiking
1 month ago

Okay, this was a fun hike! There IS a 10 dollar fee for parking inside the state park. Which is unavoidable so just prepare to pay 10 bucks to hike here. There is absolutely ZERO CELL PHONE SERVICE. So please don’t go alone. Please stay on the trails and be careful. Don’t get lost. Open the trails app before you loose service going up the mountain. I found little spots of service , enough to at least open this app and figure out where we were. Now , this was a very fun hike . To be honest tho, the “waterfall” is a dam called Weir Dam Historical Site and it’s off the the side of this trail. It’s easy to find just follow the signs. Park at the Doane Pond lot next to the school up there, and you can pretty much hike to all the fun areas here . PLEASE BRING A LOT OF WATER, and FOOD. there is no place to buy food or snacks once you past the fork in the road next to the diner. There are a few water fountains around randomly but I’d still bring your own. Follow my advice and you all will have a fun time up in the mountains! Be safe and watch out for poison oak.

Great hike, not easy but, beautiful.

on Palomar Divide Road

off road driving
1 month ago

Got about 2 Miles in and hit a locked gate.. there were no trespassing signs everywhere

Lovely! You see the valley, cedar trees, creek, and wild life. Relatively quiet trail. Very easy to do with a baby in a carrier. You do need to cross the creek at one point on stones, but it’s very easy and most times of the year the water level is very low.

2 months ago

easy, nice.

very pretty hiking area

hiking
4 months ago

We did the Doane Valley loop, French Valley Loop and ended with the Weir trail, which brought us back to the parking lot near the entrance of the campground. We had a blast! The hike was amazingly kid-friendly (we had a 5 and 12 year old with us), but you do need to be able to identify poison oak, as it grows everywhere, and stinging nettle, if you go near the creek. There was a huge fallen tree that served as a playground for a nice break and the path was really well taken care of. We only saw a few other people (less than 10) so it was a nice quiet hike. There were open stretches, but also plenty of shaded hike areas, for balance. This was a great fall hike, but I can't wait to go back in the spring and see the tall grasses when they are green! I'll definitely do this hike again!

This was an enjoyable hike that will challenge you in the first two miles, get you away from the crowds at other suburban / urban hiking spots in SD and give you peace and quite the whole way through.

Ask a guy from the fire department where to park and was directed to park off the South side of the station (the building closed to Rt. 79). Started at 9:00 AM and walked about 1/2 mile following the signs for the trail. The trail begins off the NW corner of the fire station. Walk around a bit, you'll find it. First 1/2 mile is flat and then it climbs for the next 1.5 miles at an average rate of about 900 feet per mile. The grade was deceiving at first, but I quickly got tired half way up. The sun was strong, footing was loose rock and sands and the path was narrow. 80% of the way up to the eventual dirt road is sun exposed. Take it slow. Another reason to take it slow...trail is very narrow and I saw two snakes, one of which was either a rattler or a gopher snake. I nearly stepped on another. Lots of good snake hiding spots on this trail so walk slow and look at your surroundings.

After the path, you're up at 4,200' and on a wide dirt road. It levels out considerably from there and the remained of the hike isn't excessively strenuous, average grade is about 500 feet per mile. Just follow the dirt road to the top. There are forks in the dirt road at times. Always take the fork that goes up in elevation. And, you the AllTrails app to be sure you going the right direction.

Got to the top in 3 hours 10 minutes, and took a 30 minute break. Windy and cool up there. The ranger in the fire look-out tower called down and said the bottled water on the picnic table was free! Appreciated the offer, but I still had plenty of my own water. Headed back down in 2 hours 20 minutes.

The only person I saw was a guy with a bow and arrow set, just after the fire station. Didn't see another hiker the whole way up. Saw three cars going to the top, but nothing else. It's a good exercise hike and nice that there's not may people and no music playing. I drank just over three liters of water. Wear sunscreen and bring 4 - 5 liters and a hat. Another must-have, have a bug net for your head. Although 80 - 90% of the trail is gnat-free, there's a couple of places where they are thick and you'll want your bug net.

Camped at Oak Grove Campground across from the Fire Station to get an early start. Only $15. Got up early. and parked at the Fire Station and hiked up. Oak Grove trail is the hardest, steepest part of the trail. After that you're on a dirt road the rest of the way up. It was a nice long hike. Bring plenty of water.

trail running
4 months ago

A very nice hike.
Parking is $10, must be cash.
I parked just past where you pay for day use on the left in the Silvercrest Picnic Area. Except the beginning the in-App map was very helpful.
From the picnic area there is a short trail at the bathroom to the road then walk left along the road and the Boucher trail is between the separated up & down roads to the Boucher fire overlook.
My hunch is it is slightly longer around 10-11 miles, but I got off trail slightly once/twice using a paper map before backtracked or pulling out the phone app.

hiking
5 months ago

Short but beautiful

Trails well marked. Lots of wildlife. Doane Pond at halfway point. Some fallen trees on the trail and you either climb over or duck under.

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