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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
18 days ago

Oct 28, 2018. We hiked today with kids 10, 11, and 13yo. It was a wonderful experience! We started around 4pm and finished 6:15pm. Taking a lot of pics is what slowed us down. Next time we will hike in the morning :)

hiking
18 days ago

nice good hiking area...there's a $10 parking fee and the office accepts card if its open.

We took the rangers recm and followed the route she suggested. The trails took us thru various terrain. We were covered under the forest canopy of giant oak and cedar trees. We even came across a few deer and the greatest find was coming upon a fallen giant oak tree. It was at least 15 feet on its side above our heads.

hiking
27 days ago

A great spot on the East Grade of Palomar. Trail is an old dirt road, downhill in uphill out. Opens on to a great area with lots of shade trees, an old barn and several game guzzlers. In wet years there are a couple of marsh/pond areas with waterfowl. Pack in water, as the trail itself has little shade.

It was beautiful! Weather was a cool 54 degrees. I saw 2 solo hikers the entire day. The trails were maintained and easy to follow.

This trail was literally the most beautiful thing ever! The weather was rainy and foggy when I went which made the adventure much more fun! We saw a deer. It was just lovely I literally need say no more. The trails are a little hard to find as the signs become distant so definitely take a map and activate the GPS on this app so you don’t get lost.

We hiked this trail on Sunday, 10/14 with 4-adults and 3-kids (ages 12-14). On the way to the trailhead, you will first reach the State Park gate where you will need to pay a $10 fee to enter the Park. There is a small building there with the ranger, and inside are some really nice stuffed examples of the local wildlife. The parking lot is very, very close, on your left. There is a bathroom building there with nice flush toilets and a picnic ground.

The hike starts down the paved road for about 300 yards, then enters the dirt trail. One thing I liked about the trail system is that it is mostly very well marked. If you are unsure where the trail transitions from the paved road to the dirt (it’s a funky 5 way intersection), then just check google maps street view, the street view shows it all, including down the trail, it’s pretty cool.

The trail goes thru some really nice oaks, and up a long hill, coming to a nice lookout at the Boucher Fire Lookout Tower. Be sure to ask any fire watch attendants for a tower tour. We did, and it was super cool for the adults, and the kids tolerated it just fine.

Back on the trail, and you’ll find a trail that is at this time very well maintained. They must have done a recent clean up and trimming all along it.

Warning, there is ALOT of poison oak in the area. None posed a problem along the trail at this time, but you need to be weary of it and educate any kids. Due to being fall, the poison oak was easy to spot, as it’s a beautiful red color.

Second warning, a tick tried to come home with us, but lost its life along the way, before it got to bury its head in my wife’s arm.

Wildlife: plenty of birds, saw lots of lady bugs in one meadow, and I mean lots... like a gazillion. Saw a group of 4 deer crossing the trail about 100 yards ahead, and In the last 1/2 mile or so, a small fox crossed the trail and posed upon a tree stump for us. It was super cool.

We liked the trail very, very much. I would have given it 5 stars, but downgraded it to 4 stars due to the poison oak and the hitchhiking tick. For a 3.4 mile trail, it gave a good workout with lots of beautiful scenery.

Great hike, so beautiful, amazing scent of cedar and pine throughout.

I really enjoyed this trail and the views are soectacular!

off road driving
2 months ago

We came in off 79 by RV Park, turned left up small hill towards private gate and trail viers off to left from there. nice trail with high outlooks and made it up to fire watch tower following pretty easy trail. I saw a lot of stock tire tread patterns in the dirt and passed a three others along the trip but nothing too crowded. keep ur backup points in mind as some sections are narrow for a ways. we were hoping to pop out in the Observatory area and take their tour but gates at that end wefe closed. I had called S. B. Ranger station late last week who told me gates were open so be aware things change. The ride back was still nice and range at watch tower was also nice to talk with. Fire scars show how rough the terrain is to be fighting fires so hats off to them.

off road driving
2 months ago

Visiting from Arizona we wanted to take the Jeep out for a nice Californian drive. Most of the places up north from this trail were all closed because of the forest fires, But This trail was perfect, just the right amount of hills and low traffic. I aired down the tires and we drove pretty quick through some of the turns it was fun. About a quarter of the way through we saw a another trail heading down the mountain so we gave it a try it was a lot more technical and a lot of fun.

Did this trail today with my husband and 2 year old (in a hiking backpack carrier). It was a great trail with plenty of shade, and we ended up seeing a deer! Parts of the trail were very overgrown with tall plants that were very large, it felt like walking through a jungle and it was hard to discern if we were still on the trail. Doane pond right by the sixth grade camp was beautiful and a nice surprise about mid-way through. The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is because it was closer to 6.7/7 miles than 5.7. Not an issue in and of itself, but when you’re expecting to be done soon and it’s hot, the extra mile+ really sucks. Otherwise a great trail and we will do it again with a better expectation of how far we will be going.

on Pauma Creek Trail

hiking
3 months ago

It was an amazing experience. Definitely hard going down but fun going up. Recommend it to everyone! The creek it’s amazing once you finally make it to the goal (down).

Not much of a trail - overgrown and chossy. Poison oak growing every 3 feet or so. Road up is dirt and has a lot of potholes.

Did this 9/8/17 Reviews a little late but I thought I should reiterate the warning, bring a bug net and consider long sleeves. There are several cisterns (not drinkable) along the trail that make the biting gnats/mosquitos brutal. I was just up on Tahquitz Peak and the view of High Point triggered the repressed memory. Great hike, stellar views.

Great hike and beautiful views. Really cool to see the watch station

off road driving
4 months ago

A little confusing to find the trail at first do to all the other routes that are private property , once you do it’s pretty descent. Nothing terrible high clearance 2wd rigs will have no problem with this trail. Mainly a fire ride with a few off shoots.

One heck of a hike, We were not expecting the 6.5 hour time gauge .... but the breaks were MUCH needed during the steep start as well as for the beautiful high point stop.

BRING WATER/ TAKE BREAKS DURING HEAT

hiking
5 months ago

has anyone ran this in one day?

hiking
5 months ago

We went 5/31/2018. I loved it. It's beautiful like all the photos.
There were a couple of streams. It's very green. Surprisingly barely any poison oak/ivy/sumac. Lots of bugs, though. The trail was pretty well maintained except the Scott's Cabin Trail was pretty overgrown.
It's ten bucks to park and they take cash and checks, but no cards. The closest ATM is inthe General Store 2 1/2 miles from the ranger station.
I'm pretty sure the trail is longer than the description. We followed the map really closely and our All Trails recorder and my FitBit showed 4.5 miles not 3.6.

Peaceful trail with lots of trees surrounding you and cute fluffy squirrels and the sound of nature and the birds is soooo nice! I wish the actual cabin was there though ! Just a pile of logs there once you get to “Scott’s cabin” Overall great experience ! It’s at the state park so for all day it’s 10$ cash. Make sure to bring snacks and water there’s a few other trials around it but it’s really nice ethier way. You’ll catch a lot of cute wild birds surrounding you, maybe even deers ! so I recommend going. Make sure to check out all the other trails too and I promise you’ll love it. Make sure to Just enjoy the peaceful sound of nature and everything around you.

trail running
6 months ago

Great trail run for ultra training. The old creek section is super steep and I had to hike more then run for the first 2 ish miles but once you reach the top of Old Creek and get on the fire roads the rest is runable. It took me about 2 hours and 50 minutes but I paused my watch at the top for a bit a took in the views. There were horrible gnats as mentioned but it was off and on for short bouts of time. Will definitely do it again.

Nice walk. Not too strenuous. Brought some lunch and stopped along the way. Several places along the way have truly fantastic views. Great way for a hiker to get a day's worth of walking in.

Awesome hike. If you are doing the hike on Spring or Summer you must make it a priority to bring a bug net to cover your face. There are just so many bugs around the trees and pines. Met two older hikers who shared their most amazing adventures in the mountains of California.

Very beautiful hiking. Especially at the partly cloudy wether.

Fantastic view and nature during and the end of this trail, we hiked in cloudy day in spring with lots of green grass and blooms around us. I recommend to try this hiking trail.

We loved this hike. Somehow we turned it in to about 6 miles and the fit bit says about 112 stairs climbed. Lots or great up and down trails. Some downed trees across the trail here and there. Hope they don’t remove them. Easy to get a little of everything on these trails. E will be back soon.

hiking
7 months ago

Stumbled on this trail, it’s moderate but beautiful and the two mile loop completed was great!

Long hike uphill, followed by moderately difficulty descent. Pretty spectacular views from the top, would highly recommend. As with other commenters, first two miles is a rough climb (but manageable) and will drain you if you aren’t prepared.

8 months ago

Very very beautiful hiking. And hard.

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