Cuyamaca Peak Loop

MODERATE 247 reviews

Cuyamaca Peak Loop is a 7.7 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Descanso, California that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October.

7.7 miles
1833 feet



nature trips

trail running





wild flowers




no dogs

Lightly traveled and rugged ridgeback with splendid pine forest views to the west. This excursion to the top of the Cuyamaca Peek has many trails from which to choose. Ours trail begins on the south Azalea Glen Loop. This 1.5 mile ascent is one of the most beautiful dense forest hikes in the park. Take the Loop Trail to the Azalea Glen Road to the Azalea Fire Road finally meeting up with the Conejos Trail. The Conejos, a lightly hiked 2.5 mile trail, follows the ridgeback of the Cuyamaca it is a bit of smorgasbord. It begins by meandering around fallen oak trees then quickly morphs to a granite rock trail. Finally it becomes a wall trail hugging a steep drop! The views this hike affords are fantastic, both to the East Mountains and west low lying valleys. Finally, the trail merges with the paved fire road 0.5 from the top of Cuyamaca Peak. Be sure to bring some binoculars, on a clear day the views from the second highest peak in San Diego County are spectacular!

3 days ago

Male, 35 (and female companion, 29)
6', 240 lbs
Fitness level: average
Hiking experience: intermediate
Date of hike: 02/10/18
Pace: easy/moderate
Total time: A little under 3 hours (app clocked us at 2:35 movement time)
Weather temp: Didn't track, it was probably around 60-70

Definitely do this counterclockwise, starting from the Azalea Glen Road trail and make your way up to Conejos and then to the Fire Road (paved road).

Beautiful scenery, one of the very few hikes in San Diego where you can actually see trees and pines. Huge, beautiful pine trees!

The hike for the most part is easy until the climb at the end, it is quite demanding on your cardio, especially if you're not in optimal shape. But just take it easy and you'll be fine.

Highly recommend this hike, probably my favorite in SD.

12 days ago

Id give it a 3.5 star review only because we did an out & back up the paved fire road instead of the loop...super steep & hard on the lower body. Still doable, but so boring! Take the fire road on your way down the loop! Also, theres huge gaudy satellite antennas at the top with a barbed wire gated fence. Totally ruins the views at the peak trying to dodge cables in your photos. About halfway or so up (or down) the fire road theres a cute little lookout with a bench. The views are breathtaking! Youll want to take a minute to take it all in!

19 days ago

We took a different route to get to cuyamaca peek. We parked at Paso picacho campground and hiked up a maintenance/fire Road. This made it a pretty easy climb. It was Steep at the end, but no big deal because the road was so well-maintained. amazing views and pleasant hike. This was about a 6 mile out and back.

21 days ago

We did this loop counter clockwise, which allowed us to go down the very steep and boring paved fire road at the end. The steepest and rockiest part in this direction was after the spring.

26 days ago

Did this hike with my girlfriend on Saturday, 01/27/18. Not terribly difficult until the incline on the Lookout fire road just before the top. Took us 4h, 49m moving time. 9.2 miles, avg speed 1.9 mph, top speed 4.5 mph. Came up Azalea Glen Trail, Took Conejos Trail to the Fire Road up, and also on the way back (no interest in taking that paved fire road all the way down). Took Azalea Glen Road (dirt) from the Azalea Spring Jct down to the campground. Coming down was about 1.5 hours total with stops and picture taking. Most of the trails were great and a nice mix. Saw 2 deer a mile in and 6 at the campground at sundown, also Wild Turkeys on the side of Middle Peak. Views up top were amazing. Windy and cold, but there's a lumber bench set up behind the building, we ate lunch at. Good windbreaker from the Santa Ana winds..
(View recording for route taken)

26 days ago

Not sure why it says difficult, it definitely wasn’t hard. Very beautiful hike though! Took about 3 hours to complete. I went during the Santa Ana winds so it was suuuuuuper windy and cold at the top. Will definitely be back!

1 month ago

Love this hike! Definitely take the far right trail counter clockwise up the mountain. I think the hike is fairly moderate until you get to the last 1/2 mile or so on the fire road, then it's a pretty steep incline to the summit. This time around we saw some deer close to the campground entrance on the start of our hike and then a coyote in the distance about 1 mile in. Scenery is gorgeous and we lucked out with some frosted trees and snow toward the summit. Almost 8 miles roundtrip... took us a little over 4 hours to complete with some rest time in between.

1 month ago

1 month ago

We did this hike on Saturday (1/13/18) and really enjoyed it.

Parking- you park in the area of a campground along CA-79 and it is the same lot used if you are doing the Stonewall Peak hike which starts on the other side of the highway; you must pay $10 and if you get there early like we did before a Park Ranger is on duty you must fill out an envelope and drop the $/envelope in a slot so make sure you have exact cash; no special Adventure Day Pass is needed

Trail/route- we did the loop starting w/Azalea Glen to the Azalea Springs Fire Road to Conejos Trail which at about 4.2 miles will take you to a paved fire road...make sure to turn right at this juncture and this will be the hardest steepest part of the hike for the final 1/2 mile to the top and you will have completed approx. 4.8 miles to get to the top; we took the paved fire road straight down to complete the loop and it will total about 7.5 miles when you get back to the parking lot and it takes around 4 hrs to complete starting at about 4,900 ft and reaching the top at nearly 6,500 ft

My thoughts: this is a beautiful area and the drive to the trailhead offers so much to see; it is not a crowded trail; there are great views of Cuayamaca Lake and the hills to the east and when you get to the top you are rewarded with a great view looking west to San Diego and the Pacific on a clear day; most of the hike is easy especially the first 2 miles of the loop if you go counter clockwise like we did and the only difficult part was the last 1/2 mile going up the steep fire road to the top

1 month ago

i love it, not too easy but great

1 month ago

My girlfriend and I did this "part" of this hike on New Year's Day. The weather was a little overcast and made for perfect hiking weather.

We added a couple extra miles to this hike. Instead of taking the main fire road, which is paved, we hiked up Azalea Glen Road to Azalea Spring Fire Road to the main Fire Road (paved) and finally extending the trail to Cuyamaca Peak. Hiked down Conejos Trail to Azalea Spring Fire Road to Azalea Glen Trail .

The view from Cuyamaca Peak was fantastic! We both decided to stay off the main fire road because it was paved and felt that the other dirt trails were better on our knees.

1 month ago

Fantastic views along the way and the view at the summit is worth the trip. We hiked the Azalea Glen trail to Conejos trail then up to the peak. We took the lookout road back down to the parking and it was not a great trail for views and hard on the knees. Overall the hike was over 7 miles. It was challenging, but doable for most hikers. If I had more time I would have retraced my steps going back down the Azalea Glen trail. I would give the overall hike a 4.7 and rank it among the best in San Diego county.

1 month ago

Really enjoyed the hike. Sad to see all the damage from old wildfires but it’s still beautiful. Went on Dec 30 and the weather was perfect. Hiked the loop counter clockwise. The view at the summit is amazing. The only knock on it is if you take the paved road on the way back down it’s tough on the knees/back. My wife and I hiked at a leisurely pace and spent some time at the summit and it took 5 hours. Ran into other hikers but it wasn’t crowded.
I would definitely recommend it to anyone. Can’t beat it when it’s only an hour away from SD!

2 months ago

Should've read the other reviews before going up, we took the fire road all the way to the top and conejo trail on the way down. nevertheless, it was an amazing hike...went on 12/19/17 with some friends, it got pretty chilly on top...went back with the wifey on 12/21/17, and it rained the night before...there's puddle of ice on side of the fire road and the pine leaves have frozen dew drops, this time it was freezing cold hahaha..

2 months ago

Nice hike with great views. But it was pretty cold and windy on top. Take jacket

2 months ago

Great trail.

3 months ago

Did this hike last Sunday 11/05. There are parts of the trail that have heavy machinery cutting down timber. We were able to continue on trail as machinery was not near path. The fire peak lookout is awesome. It was windy up there but very refreshing as the wind will dry up sweat.

3 months ago

My knees wish it wasn’t paved the whole way (down)

4 months ago

park at the camp grounds as others have mentioned. costs $10.

when you start, take the right most trail path to do the loop counter clockwise, otherwise you'll end up pretty bored on the fire road all the way up. the counter clockwise loop allows you to hike through a very natural setting. eventually you have to get back onto the paved fire road to get up to the summit and when you descend, it will all be paved back to your parking spot.

5 months ago

Great loop. We did it counter clockwise. When you get to the fire road towards the end make a right and head to the summit. It's only another half mile up. My gps was at a little over 8 miles on this hike. Significantly more than the 6.3 that shows on this loop.

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