Lawson Peak Trail

HARD 148 reviews
#9 of 121 trails in

Lawson Peak Trail is a 4.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Jamul, California that features a cave and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from November until May. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
4.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,499 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

trail running

cave

views

rocky

scramble

washed out

Downtown: From Downtown San Diego take G St. to CA-94 E and stay on the highway until it ends and turns into CA-54/Jamacha Rd. Turn right to stay on CA-94 E/Campo Rd and keep on CA-94 E/Campo Rd. Stay on CA-94 E/Campo Rd. for 4.5 mi and then turn right onto Lyons Valley Rd. Keep right to stay onto Lyons Valley Rd. and drive for 1.6 mi and continue onto Skyline Truck Trail and drive for 7.1 mi. Turn left at the stop sign and drive for 2.6 mi. At the mile 13 marker you will see a yellow gate which is the trail head to Lawson Peak. North County: From North County get on I-805 S or I-15 S and merge onto CA-94 E. Stay on the highway until it ends and turns into CA-54/Jamacha Rd. Turn right to stay on CA-94 E/Campo Rd and keep on CA-94 E/Campo Rd. Stay on CA-94 E/Campo Rd. for 4.5 mi and then turn right onto Lyons Valley Rd. Keep right to stay onto Lyons Valley Rd. and drive for 1.6 mi and continue onto Skyline Truck Trail and drive for 7.1 mi. Turn left at the stop sign and drive for 2.6 mi. At the mile 13 marker you will see a yellow gate which is the trail head to Lawson Peak. South County: From South County get on I-805N or I-15 N and merge onto CA-94 E. Stay on the highway until it ends and turns into CA-54/Jamacha Rd. Turn right to stay on CA-94 E/Campo Rd and keep on CA-94 E/Campo Rd. Stay on CA-94 E/Campo Rd. for 4.5 mi and then turn right onto Lyons Valley Rd. Keep right to stay onto Lyons Valley Rd. and drive for 1.6 mi and continue onto Skyline Truck Trail and drive for 7.1 mi. Turn left at the stop sign and drive for 2.6 mi. At the mile 13 marker you will see a yellow gate which is the trail head to Lawson Peak. East County: The easiest route to Lawson Peak from most places in East County is by taking the I-8 W and then taking CA-125 S. Exit right for Spring St. and keep to the outermost left turning lane. Turn left onto Spring St. and then keep right for CA-94 E. Stay on the CA-94 E until it ends and turns into CA-54/Jamacha Rd. Turn right to stay on CA-94 E/Campo Rd and keep on CA-94 E/Campo Rd. Stay on CA-94 E/Campo Rd. for 4.5 mi and then turn right onto Lyons Valley Rd. Keep right to stay onto Lyons Valley Rd. and drive for 1.6 mi and continue onto Skyline Truck Trail and drive for 7.1 mi. Turn left at the stop sign and drive for 2.6 mi. At the mile 13 marker you will see a yellow gate which is the trail head to Lawson Peak.

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

The trailhead didnt have any markings or any post so were a little confused. Until the point where we you have to climb the little mountain the hike is moderate with beautiful views. However the trail is bulldozed making the terrain a little difficult to walk. The best part is the last section where you have to fo a little climbing and then climb up to the cave using ropes. Awesome views from the top. Very wind at the top.

hiking
2 months ago

Really beautiful hike! Definitely on the harder side. But, for those (like myself), who are scared of heights - the cave can be sketchy to go in and out of.

3 months ago

Alert: this trail has been recently bulldozed. All the way up to the look out point.
First part has been leveled out a bit however all the way up now has little up and down hills. Seems like they might be trying to make rain/water run offs - maybe grade it a bit better. Because of this, all the beautiful rocks are no longer visible. Makes it for a less enjoyable hike but still beautiful views over the mountains. Ground and rocks are loose.

3 months ago

Amazing mountain. Love it!

hiking
4 months ago

Been wanting to do this one for awhile now, finally got to it! Reviews below are very accurate: the washed out dirt road is a monotonous pain in the ass, albeit a good workout, all the way to the base of the summit. It does indeed get fun, scenic, and challenging as you make your way from the road junction up to the summit. The boulder climbs are rad, the summit is really cool and rewarding. The climb up to/down from the cave that leads to the summit is super sketchy. It actually kind of scared the shit out of me! Definitely be skilled in climbing and go with a friend. A slip and tumble in that particular spot could be catastrophic. I think there's an alternate route to the summit, I'll definitely be looking for it next time. Definitely still go do this hike though, it's a must.

hiking
4 months ago

This was very fun hike to do. The last quarter mile to get to the top is where the fun starts. You have to climb rocks/jump and walk into narrow spaces to get to the top. The views are amazing!! This hike is a must.

5 months ago

I love this hike. The first part isn't actually that interesting, to me, but once you get to the top portion and start climbing up rocks it's really, really fun. And the cave is amazing! The second time I went I took a friend and he did not like the cave part, it made him claustrophobic and the wind was mighty that day so it may not be enjoyable to all (but try it for yourself!). I recommend this hike for sure. Also I got lost on the way and had no reception so take some screen shots of your directions.

hiking
5 months ago

6 months ago

GREAT payoff hike! The first two miles are a little grueling, but once you get to the last quarter mile of rock scrambling, it's so much fun! When you get to the top of the 2-mile fire road, you will want to hike the trail to the right despite the arrow made of rocks pointing you to the left. Walk until you find the path that heads up into the boulder landscape. It's hard to keep track of the trail, but follow the road more traveled. You will need to follow it around the backside of the highest peak rock to find the ropes that lead you to the cave before climbing out to the top of the rocks...Be okay with heights. Have good arm strength. Bring gloves. DON'T bring your dog. Have fun!

hiking
6 months ago

Jamul's best kept secret. Easy hike up a washed out dirt road. Some vertical climbing is required to reach the summit. The views are worth it though. This isn't for those scared of heights. I also summited Gaskill. Trash collected: 5 beer cans, 2 water bottles, and a hand full of rifle shells.

hiking
6 months ago

It's easy hikes thru til the last section to the Pancake Rocks, almost a vertical climbs "technical" but worth the 360° views. Over all beautiful sceneries with so much less crowds

6 months ago

Have done this trial twice! I did it early on a Friday morning and only saw 2 other people which was awesome! You’ll definitely have to rock climb a little but it’s pretty doable! Went with a group and with a buddy and had a great time both times!

hiking
6 months ago

Hiking shoes and poles are recommended as the majority of this trail is a badly washed out truck road with a steady incline.

Also, bring at least of a litre of water per person!

Once near the summit the trail levels out and crosses the trail to Gaskill peak - keep straight and follow the wash up to the Lawson summit trail.

You may want to find a good place to leave your pack as this segment of the trail is very tight in places and requires one to either climb over large boulders, or go under them.

Pay attention to the app to stay on trail as there are some routes up that split off which are more difficult, and you will be faced with other areas where the trail seems to just disappear.

hiking
6 months ago

One of San Diego’s best hikes with a great payoff at the summit. First 3/4 of the hike is pretty easy up a washed out road. At the end of this section, the huge boulder on the right is worth scrambling up for excellent views. After coming down, the ascent to the peak is the hardest, and most fun, part of the hike. Climb over rocks and boulders on a trail that is most visible. If you lose the trail, just head up. Near the top, if you get stuck, descend and go around the peak and look for helpful ropes in a slot between two rocks. This leads to a cool cave and ultimately to the summit. Sign your name in the Lawson Peak notebook!

7 months ago

Completed this hike on New Years Day. The trail was rocky but quite obvious. The views from the top were breathtaking. 360° panorama! The last quarter mile is a bit treacherous if you aren’t well-versed in rock scrambling; but there is a big flat rock section just before the junction at Wisecarver Road that serves equally well as a summit/viewpoint. I scrambled to the top of Lawson Peak, snapped a photo, and returned to the aforementioned flat rock to take in the views there instead of finding a place to sit up on the summit. Totally recommend this hike, especially in winter.

7 months ago

Coolest hike in San Diego. Easy and comfortable hike all the way to the base of the peak. After that, it’s totally an adrenaline rush climbing up. Very physical and sketchy but, definitely worth it. Views from the top are awesome. Expect to get your hands dirty and get some minor scrapes with the bushes. Would totally recommend this hike.

8 months ago

Awesome view worth the drive

hiking
8 months ago

My favorite. I like to do this one a couple times a week- the scramble is the best part of the hike. My dog agrees!! It’s a great workout and not super time consuming. Close enough to do often.

rock climbing
8 months ago

It’s a very long up hill path. It’s worth it once you get to the top.

9 months ago

The washed out fire road up was nothing to write home about. The rock-scrambling was awesome, the workout was definitely felt the next day. The cave was amazing, and so was the peak. A lot of people have said this is a “one and done” for them, but I would absolutely do it again. Most fun I’ve had on a trail in awhile. Gloves are a must, as well as shoes with some good tread on them.

Amazing hike! there's rope to help you up into the cave.

9 months ago

pretty awesome trail, everyone previously commenting is pretty spot on. You basically walk up a non used service road that's rocky until you get to the top. It's a good workout. The real fun isn't until you start the bouldering to get to the top. It's a great trail but more of a one and done trail for me.

hiking
10 months ago

Awesome trail, top 1/4 of the trail definitely deserves the description hard. More like bouldering rock climbing

11 months ago

love it, a lot of fun for some bouldering at the top of the hike, parking is on the street/road

hiking
Friday, August 04, 2017

One of those trails that pays off at the end!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Funnest most challenging trail I've done in a while! Gorgeous views and no one on the trails. Be prepared for steep inclines as you get close to Peak, a bit of bouldering, rope climbing to get up into cave and scrambling steep rocks to get to Peak. Well worth it for the relaxing gorgeous views! We added Gaskill Peak to the east, and that trail is overgrown, and very steep. You have to free climb some steep rocks to get to Peak, but was doable and found the geocaching boxes and was able to write in the journal that we made it! We were covered in scratches from the bushes on this trail but was super fun. Combined with Lawson's made it 7.4 miles!

hiking
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

I loved this hike!! It was an easy drive to get to the trailhead and aside from the first 2 miles of a slightly boring (but still a workout and pretty views as you look back) of an old rocky service road, the remaining mile of pure bouldering is well worth it!!
After we parked at the mile marker, it took us a few minutes to figure out which big gate was the trailhead. It's the one that goes up in elevation! Lol We almost went through the other one that said no trespassing, plus we followed the map and GPS to make absolutely sure.
I would highly recommend wearing climbing gloves and a hat and sunblock as there is not a lot of shade for most of this hike.
Although it isn't a marked trail at all, the first half of the hike is very easy to follow since it's an old service road with a lot of switchbacks. Lots of it reminded me of hiking El Cajon Mt. The real fun begins when you start climbing and bouldering to reach the top! Have fun guys and as always, be careful!

Monday, May 29, 2017

First real hike I ever went on. Been hiking ever since. This peak is very doable. But bring water, wear proper boots or shoes, and use treking poles (mostly to ward off snakes). I love this hike. If you follow the trail beyond Lawson Peak, Gaskill Peak is the trail's next stop. It's quieter because the extra 1.5 miles (each way) kicks your ass. But it really looks like the moon up there at Gaskill.

hiking
Thursday, May 18, 2017

The trail is a washed out road that is more like a dried up stream with loose stones in the low areas with better walking at the edges most of the way. The road switchbacks up the grade and is fairly steep. At the top the boulders are interesting among the flat areas of stone. The trail to the summit is not easy to find. Great views and peaceful area.

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