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Boucher Trail and Palomar Mountain Loop

MODERATE 119 reviews

Boucher Trail and Palomar Mountain Loop is a 8.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Palomar Mountain, California that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 8.7 miles Elevation Gain: 1,519 feet Route Type: Loop

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

views

wildlife

over grown

fee

$10 parking fee. Note: Dogs are NOT allowed on the trails, but are allowed anywhere else. The trail is uphill until you reach Boucher Lookout Tower. It breaks at the tower which contains a picnic area, an observation deck, restroom and water. Boucher Trail picks up again on the other side of the lookout tower (trail marked) and heads downhill for quite a ways. Be warned that what goes down must eventually come up. The trail ends at Nate Harrison Grade Road. Across the road you'll see Adams Trail. An alternative to Nate Harrison Grade road would be to take Boucher Road from the lookout tower. This would cut out a significant part of Boucher trail but would mean less uphill walking on the way back.

hiking
over grown
2 months ago

Did this hike today. I definitely see why so many people love it. That said, it was so overgrown today from Boucher Trail down to Baptist Trail that I was quite miserable the first part of the hike. The last tenth of a mile on Adams Trail before reaching the campground to start Baptist Trail was by far the worst. You basically had to just wade through shoulder high brush. I had hiking poles but they did little to keep me from getting hit with just about every plant on the trail. I loved the rest of the hike though which is why I really hate giving this 3 stars (It’s a 5 star trail if it wasn’t overgrown). I would love to go again but I’d probably find a way to skip the first section! Also, it was a little confusing finding Baptist Trail- I read that you should walk straight through the campground to find it (we had wandered along the road) so hopefully that helps someone!

hiking
bugs
over grown
2 months ago

This trail would have been beautiful; however it was so overgrown that many parts were inaccessible. Hope to return so that we can do the full loop.

hiking
bugs
over grown
2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

This is one of my favorite hikes in San Diego county. The hike is a unique mix of many different terrains -- dense forests with huge trees, canopy trees that look like something out of a movie, grass plateaus with deer, scenic heights including a lookout tower, ponds and creeks, picnic areas and campgrounds, tall flowers/plants, and more. The day I hiked was overcast was a light drizzle at the base of the mountain. Fortunately, the park area was just a little higher than the thick cloud cover, so it was a clear, sunny day at the park. This lower elevation cloud cover led to some amazing views of an endless ocean of billowy white, off the side of the lookout. I only ran into 2 other groups, while on the trails. However, there were plenty of people by the pond, lookout, picnic areas, and campgrounds. The hike was a combination of peaceful solitude followed by returning to many people, as well as structures like bathrooms and picnic areas. The only reason I did not rate the hike as 5 stars were the bugs. With the heavier rainfall that creates some of the the unique terrains, there are more bugs than other locations in San Diego county. One of the rangers let me use some additional bug spray, but it was far from adequate. I was brushing off bugs for much of the hike. At the time of this review, the map on this site shows a start/stop point on Nate Harrison Grade. This is not a parking area. The 3 main hiking parking areas are Silvercrest Pinic/Entrance, Boucher Lookout, and Doane Pond. I favor the latter. You hit Doane Pond twice during the loop, so this gives option to return to the car midway through the hike, carrying fewer supplies. You also get to break up the hike midway at Boucher Lookout, and walk up hill midway, rather than when tired at the end. I favor choosing Baptist Trail over the pictured route with Cedar Trail. There are many trail options, so it's good to have a map. The one at the ranger station (free) or online from the park website shows additional trail options that are not on the AllTrails map, such as the Baptist Trail turnoff I mentioned. The price has increased to $10 per car. Dogs are not allowed on the trails, but are allowed on other areas. On another trip, the rangers led my dog climb up to the top of the lookout. She got a real kick out of being able to watch over such a large distance. I had no data coverage with AT&T and have had extremely limited coverage with Verizon in the past.

hiking
4 months ago

Pretty good hike about 10 miles and $10 cash only to park. We got a map from the Ranger and downloaded the map from all trails. Creeks, ponds and meadows very pretty day. I wish there was a little better signage for the trails. It would be pretty easy for the park to put some arrows up to keep you on the trail. We had the most trouble finding the Baptist trail. We had to walk though a campground and on some paved roads to complete the hike.

hiking
4 months ago

Saturday 5/18/19 9.20a-1.30p. 50's°F. Best thing: not too many people on a Saturday. Beautiful varied terrain from cedar forest to meadow to babbling brooks. I would park at Doane Pond and start from there. Dont forget to do the inner loop in the Doane Nature Reserve - lovely. I felt it was signed perfectly well. Just remember you are doing a loop that is made up of many individual trails. Use Alltrails with GPS in Airplane mode and you should be fine. Enjoy!

hiking
5 months ago

Nice and varied terrain. Needs better signage. Beautiful scenery

5 months ago

Great hike, one of my favorites.

I did a few off loop sections and changed it up a bit but was a great workout great trail started heading up towards the lookout tower from trailhead that was probably the tuffest hill. Moderate to strenuous depending on pack be number of trees down

It’s kind of hard to find the entrance so we ended up going through it backwards. The way we went go down to the road from 1st picnic area and look for the cabin trail. That’s the beginning.

hiking
6 months ago

Fun hike, a lot of different terrains. Forest, open meadow/tall grasses, creeks there was one area that prob stretched for over a mile that was almost canopy/tunnel like, you were just surrounded by plants one either side down a narrowish trail. Although the trails are labeled I recommend getting a map, (I would assume they pass them out at the ranger station),we got ours from passing hikers. It was very helpful! The terrain ranges from sand to dirt in some areas I don’t believe we came across any rocky areas. A good hike and several rest areas as you go benches etc

Beautiful hike. Lots of scenery!

hiking
bridge out
muddy
off trail
rocky
washed out
7 months ago

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

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
7 months 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.

hiking
10 months ago

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

hiking
10 months ago

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!

hiking
11 months ago

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.

11 months ago

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.

Monday, September 24, 2018

I really enjoyed this trail and the views are soectacular!

hiking
Sunday, May 06, 2018

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.

hiking
Sunday, April 29, 2018

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.

hiking
Sunday, February 04, 2018

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!!!

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