Looking for a great trail in Palomar Mountain State Park, California? AllTrails has 11 great hiking trails, views trails, walking trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Ready for some activity? There are 6 moderate trails in Palomar Mountain State Park ranging from 0.7 to 8.7 miles and from 2,903 to 5,419 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!

hiking

views

nature trips

walking

bird watching

no dogs

forest

wild flowers

wildlife

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.

Do yourself a favor and get a trail map of the area at the ranger station or download one before you come because the trails are not marked well. $10 entrance fee to the state park. Beautiful area though. Not a lot of people right now and great weather! Scott’s cabin is basically non existent right now. Looks like a pile of logs (maybe they are getting ready to rebuild it??)

hiking
bridge out
muddy
off trail
rocky
washed out
6 days ago

So many different terrains! Amazing trail. Got a little confusing at some points but the mystery made it fun!

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
9 days ago

Great hike. Took Scott’s cabin spur to Chimney flats and then took the detour to the Weir Historic site. So I did it backwards, rather than starting at the lookout, that’s were my hike ended. Much more rewarding that way. In total the ruck was about 10.5 miles from what my mile counter said. This is definitely a moderate to difficult hike in most areas. If you’re only doing 2-3 miles of trails at a time then it’s easy. Put em all together it gets a little hard. Absolutely beautiful scenery and views. Flora and Fauna were quite awe inspiring as well. Doing most of the trails in the park is well worth it. Overall one of the best hikes I’ve been on and had some great challenges. Did this hike in under 3 hours.

fishing
muddy
over grown
rocky
scramble
washed out
10 days ago

Despite the reviews, please please please be careful out there. The "trail" is almost entirely overgrown and very difficult to follow. There are a lot of other paths that people have made trying to find the trail. Follow the ropes down and stay to the right until you see markers tied to the trees. If you go left and hit a dry waterfall, you have gone too far left and are off trail. I did not know this and tried peeking out on a ledge to see if I could find the trail but the ledge gave way after about 15 seconds of standing on it. I slid down about 20' and luckily got caught up on a plant. If I didn't, I would have fallen another 20' straight drop to a boulder garden and gotten seriously injured or died. Please use your highest of caution on this trail. I have about 10 years of backcountry experience and that just goes to show that even with experience, this trail can be dangerous. The river is beautiful though when you reach it...alive.

hiking
16 days ago

Trail was about 4 miles. Not too rocky but some steep spots. Overall moderate hike that has beautiful woodsy views

hiking
snow
21 days ago

hiking
muddy
scramble
snow
21 days ago

This is a difficult hike! The snow made it even tougher- but also much prettier I believe than if there weren’t any snow. Highly recommend if you’re looking for a challenge.

hiking
muddy
no shade
rocky
scramble
snow
1 month ago

Uphill all the way but very manageable with well marked trail. Once up the single track you’ll reach a fire road. 3/4 of the hike is on the fire road but still nice and scenic. Went in the winter time and it rained and snowed. Last bit was packed with about 8-9 inches of snow. Would recommend this in winter and spring. Probably too exposed in summer time.

Hitting a locked gate so close to coming out at the observatory pretty much ruined the day. Nothing spectacular on trail and some parts were even rather poorly paved. Over all a waste of gas...

Love this trail. The only thing people forget to mention is it’s ALL incline the entire way up!!! But well worth it. Great workout!

Nice little trail to see a bit of Palomar Mountain.

I've done this trail a few times along with several of the other nearby ones. It's a nice change of scenery on Palomar Mountain from the desert below. It's a shame Scott's Cabin has not survived, but the apple orchard still being cultivated is really neat.

off road driving
1 month ago

Extremely fun till the end on the eastern side. Locked gate but found an opening to squeeze through.

Good winter conditioning trail. Beautiful views. No snow or mud, even after all of the rain we received this week. The first two miles are single track and the rest is an old dirt service road. It is fairly exposed, which gives you great scenery to enjoy, but would be pretty brutal on a hot day. Nice if you are looking for solitude. I was out there for 8 hours. I didn't see any other hikers. Just two vehicles and 3 motorcycles. It was a rewarding hike, the tower has nice picnic facilities.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful destination and well worth the hike. Don’t be fooled by the rating this is an extremely steep trail and offers a challenge regardless of the distance. Didn’t see any fish unfortunately but that doesn’t mean they are not there.

NIce, will marked trail to the Forest Service Lookout Tower. A lot of this trail is service road (approx. 4-5 miles). On our visit 1/5/19, there was a lot of snow for about the last 4 miles. I was the only hiker not using poles or spikes. If you are comfortable on snow and know how to avoid ice, you don't need either, It snowed on us on the way down and was VERY cold at the top (36° not accounting for wind chill).

hiking
2 months ago

beautiful trail best trail I've ever been to in California, however they do not allow Doggos on the trails.

off road driving
2 months ago

What a beautiful trail and directions were spot on! At first we had a dirt trail but as we ascended we got to enjoy snow!! Passed a few others along the way and on the backside coming down towards Warner Springs hit a tight spot as someone coming up was trying to pass us. Overall would do it again!!

off road driving
2 months ago

Very beautiful scenic drive. I did this in my stock 2018 JK. Did not have to put it in 4 wheel drive, but did anyway when we were going over the icy spots. There were many side trails closed off.

It’s closed.

off road driving
3 months ago

Easy fun drive.

Absolutely peaceful, varied, and beautiful trail. Stream, pond, deer, sweeping views. Loved it.

Lovely state park and awesome trail! We did about a 9 mile loop that included forest, meadows, creeks and epic views. Good mix of strenuous and easy. $10 to park and rangers helped us with a map of trails to follow!

I did this hike expecting great views and beautiful trail (palomar mountain it’s beautiful) but it’s not. 2 first mi are steep and somewhat pretty- after that it’s a service road with nothing to enjoy. The views at the top are Ok- but for me not enough. Good exercise little enjoyment

Awesome! Perfect weather. A little peoplie but great trip.

hiking
4 months 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
4 months 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
4 months 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.

Load More