Cuyamaca Peak via Azalea Glen Loop

MODERATE 372 reviews

Cuyamaca Peak via Azalea Glen 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.

DISTANCE
7.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,833 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

bird watching

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

snow

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! Parking at the bottom campground is $10 and the adventure pass is not accepted.

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
washed out
3 days ago

Really tough hike starting with Azalea loop. Trails completely washed out and day priors rain was rushing down the trails. About 3 miles of rock hopping through the runoff water river beds aka the trail. Upper 1/3 of the mountain was very cool Alpine hiking with the snow and ice. Saw Puma tracks and droppings a few times. Summit was completely frozen and wind blown very eerie and cool looking. The paved trail down was so nice very satisfied with this hike. With the conditions the trail was in and the cold I would say this was the hardest hike I’ve done in SD County much tougher than other “Hard” rated hikes. In late spring early summer I could see if being easier but the washed out trails, rain runoff and cold made it an adventure to remember.

hiking
muddy
snow
10 days ago

Good trail. Enjoyed it. Plenty of snow. Doable without spikes, but easier with them.

hiking
25 days ago

Great hike! 90 percent of it is incline so I wouldn’t recommend it if you have kids. Awesome panoramic view during the entire hike. You can see the aftermath of the recent fire that ran through here. The top is definitely worth the trip up!

1 month ago

I underestimated how cold it was going to be. I would bring crampons if you have them.

hiking
1 month ago

December 31, New Year’s Eve Hike to end the year! 7.7 miles of uphill and downhill with snow, mud, and rocky road. We didn’t get a chance to see the view on Cuyamaca Peak due to fog and windy weather, but it was definitely the toughest hiking trail when it is snowy and muddy!

hiking
1 month ago

31Dec2018, this is an awesome trail, it's actually a hard trail if your dealing with snow and sometimes a strong wind....challenging but doable... we didnt get any good views at the top due to foggy weather... i did get a picture of a frozen plants

hiking
1 month ago

Did this hike on December 30th and from the beginning there was lots of frost and patches of light snow. As we hike for about 1 hr we started seeing the trail covered in snow then it stayed all the way to the top. With the snow it made the hike harder, but also was really enjoyable. Be careful once you get to the fire road, my brother and I both fell on the way down. We were wearing hiking boots and using treking poles.

Azalea Glen Loop is what makes this hike enjoyable. As we went down the fire road on the way down we both thought we would be disappointed if that was the route to the top we took.

Parking at the bottom campground is $10 and the adventure pass is not accepted.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike this morning! I loved this route via Azalea Glen and then through Conejos Trail. Very peaceful, and great views throughout the hike. A good amount of mud early along the trail today, and then snow as I got further along (dec 28). Not too icy though—didn’t need microspikes or anything in today’s conditions.

1 month ago

Perfect hike to select on Christmas Eve!

1 month ago

Great hike . The view of the whole region from the top would be worth it. We went on Christmas Eve 2018 . So clear we could see Big Bear, Palomar, Salton Sea, Mt San Miguel, ... It’s painful to see how much was burned on the mountain a few years ago , but also good to see how the area is recovering. different areas had grasses, bushes and thousands of young pine trees.

The trail is well maintained and fallen trees I had read about in reviews from a couple of weeks earlier were already cleared.

1 month ago

Awesome, Lots of great views!

2 months ago

So much better than just taking the fire road. I'd actually suggest doing an out and back on the recommended start to the route so you only do the paved part at the end. Be prepared for some very narrow trails that get pretty rocky (loose in some areas).

hiking
2 months ago

I did the loop, and I really liked it! The first part was a rocky trail with lots of great foliage and views. There were a couple of downed trees but I was able to climb over them pretty easily. The top isn’t really that great because there is a bunch of construction equipment and I went pretty early so it was windy. I took the paved path back and it was really easy. I’d definitely recommend doing the loop because the first part had the best views, IMO. Enjoyable, and in the easy to moderate range.

Note that there is a $10 state park day fee to park.

hiking
2 months ago

This was a fun and diverse trail! We started up the fire road and about two thirds of the way up we were in the clouds. It was magical! A good handful of hikers complained about not having the right clothing as the weather from the base to the summit was drastically different. We took the Azalea Glen Loop trail down. I was looking forward to some trail running down but the trail was too rocky and unstable; I would go up Azalea Glen Loop and down the fire road if I were to do it again.

2 months ago

Dogs are only allowed on the fire road and it is an all uphill paved path this way. Awesome views at the top!

3 months ago

Awesome, Lots of great views!

4 months ago

Loved it. Amazing scenery and views over many of the California mountain ranges. Steep towards the end but doable. Unfortunately no resting area at the peak (we had lunch sitting on the trail). Views just breathtaking !

hiking
5 months ago

Awesome hike and amazing views at the top. It was out first time hiking and we would definitely recommend stopping at the ranger station for a map. During the hike, once you get to the fire road, turn right. Then, the sign for Conejos trail is a bit hidden and will be on your left after 10 min or so. Bring plenty of water; 2 of us brought 80 ounces and it was just enough.

hiking
6 months ago

Perhaps my favorite hike in San Diego. Challenging, especially the steep grade of the service road, and great views from the summit. Grab a map from the ranger if you’re not very familiar with this area, I had a little trouble finding my way around the loop to the summit the first time I did this hike.

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful trail, recommend following the guidance here up Azalea to the right then down the paved road on the way back (not fun for the feet though).

Note: the entrance to Conejos is very difficult to spot, the trail sign is hidden if you’re travelling from Azalea. Also, bring lots of water and sunscreen. Park patches, cool gifts, and wildlife display at Cuyamaca Rancho visitor’s center before you get to the campground- worth a stop Sat and Sun 1000 to 1600. Recommended soundtrack for the drive: Tin Hat Trio: The Rodeo Eroded.

hiking
8 months ago

Breath taking trail. The trail has a very sad slow rate of forest regeneration, which prompted a reforestation project to replant using donations. It breaks my heart when I saw such magnificent pines burnt to the core. Quick history: The fire took place in 2003, when a lost hunter lit a signal fire hoping to be found. That signal burned out of control and became the biggest wildfire in California's history, burning more than 300,000 acres, killed 15 people and burned 2400 homes.

8 months ago

Love it

8 months ago

Great trail I love it

8 months ago

Excellent trail, love the view

8 months ago

Great forest hike. Nice weather with a cool breeze! Park at the campground and pay the $10 parking fee. The azalea glen trail is south of the parking lot. Flat and gradual incline at the beginning. Steep as you reach the peak.

hiking
9 months ago

Love it!! Perfect for a birthday hike with friends!!

hiking
10 months ago

I was most surprised by a family that pushed a baby in. Baby stroller to the top of the this beautiful Peak. The 360 degree view was marred by mist or possibly smog to the west, so you couldn’t quite see the Pacific Ocean. Otherwise it was a sunny blue sky day with 15-20 mph winds. We met a couple dozen other hikers, including a group of Japanese teenagers coming up from the Paseo Pacheco Campground, where we parked for $10.

hiking
10 months ago

Great hike. Conejos trail is definitely a challenge and it’s a good workout going up. The views are spectacular.

hiking
10 months ago

Beautiful views all around and the frosty weather at the top was like the cherry on top. Enjoyed the cold and the icy winds on an other wise warm day in San Diego. We hiked with our dog so we stuck to the paved road (~5.4 mile out and back). Would definitely come back here soon!

11 months ago

Fun trail. If you hike it counter-clockwise there is a stretch in the first half that is a fairly steep uphill climb. The views at the top are the reward and they are pretty magnificent of the valley below and Lake Cuyamaca. I’ll do this one again.

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