Cuyamaca Rancho State Park - Hiking

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About

Summary

This 25,000-acre park offers over 100 miles of really great hiking and biking trails.

Written by

Taylor Reilly

Distance

0.1 miles

The entire park has over 100 miles of trails. Individual trails range from around two miles up to 20+ miles.

Destination Distance From Downtown

37.7 miles

Difficulty

5 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

2 hours

Varies, depending on which trail you get on, but plan to spend at least a couple hours exploring the park.

Seasonality

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

Yes

Dogs are allowed but are restricted to the campgrounds, picnic areas, and paved roads and Cuyamaca Peak Fire Road.

Fees Permits

Yes

Parking Fee

Review

Intro

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is a 24,700-acre park that offers over 100 miles of trails through its oak woodland forest. Located about 40 miles east of San Diego, it's a fantastic place for a weekend getaway to spend some time in nature.

What Makes It Great

With so many trail options, it can be tough to pick one to get started. We have a couple suggestions.

The popular Peak Trail takes visitors to the summit of Cuyamaca Peak, which is San Diego County's second highest peak at 6,512 feet in elevation. It's a 6.7-mile roundtrip with 1,650 ft of elevation gain, and the ascent takes you through oak and conifer forests before eventually leading you above tree line to breathtaking views of the surrounding region. Note that the condition of the trail isn't the best,  and can be quite strenuous in some sections. During winter months, the peak can be covered in snow, so make sure you have the right gear and dress accordingly.  

Another fantastic trail within the park is the 23-mile Cuyamaca Grand Loop mountain biking trail, which winds through beautiful pine forests, expansive meadows, and along crystal clear creeks. 

There are a lot of other users of this trail such as hikers, trail runners, and equestrians, so stay alert and if you are riding, respect the 15 mph speed limit. Also, there are several spur trails here, so be sure to stay on the right one to help prevent erosion. This trail can be very dry and hot during the summer and snowy during the winter, so dress accordingly and always bring enough water. 

Rancho Cuyamaca State Park also offers camping, so you'd be a little crazy not to make a weekend trip out of this premier hiking and biking destination. 

Who is Going to Love It

This large park has something for just about every nature lover, whether you want to explore by foot, by bike, or on horseback. With more than 150 campsites (with flush toilets and showers!), it could be a fun way to spend the weekend with your family.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The park is east of San Diego, on Highway 79, five miles north of I-8. Most of the popular trails start at the Paso Picacho Campground.

It is open daily, from dawn until dusk.

Location

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

13652 Highway 79
Julian, CA, 92036
32.927402, -116.563644

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