Cuyamaca Peak Hiking (CA)

Cuyamaca Peak Hiking (CA)

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  • Elevation Gain: ~1700 ft
  • Distance: 5.6 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Dog Friendly? Yes! This is actually the only dog-friendly hike in the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.
  • Costs? It’s an $8 parking fee to park within the Paso Picacho campground. There is no parking anywhere else near the trailhead, so this is your jam.
  • Bring: Sunscreen, water, snacks, comfortable sneakers, a camera, and a hat (the trail is mostly unshaded).
  • Wildlife: Along the way we witnessed butterflies, bees, and the adorable evidence of acorn woodpeckers storing snacks in the campground trees.

And now on to…

The Mild and Merciless Up

This hike admittedly felt more difficult than perhaps it should have, and I think the mental endurance of traveling up such a consistent grade may have played a part. Liz and Boof skipped through this hike like it was a flat walk in the park, and I agonizingly trudged up this wicked steep, never-ending incline on the Snail’s Pace Express. Maybe it was yesterday’s yoga, maybe my butt’s just not bred for hills. But what I can tell you is that if you expected there to be a benevolent downward trend, or even a leveling out around the next bend anywhere along the way, you’d be wrong.


12You can find the entrance to the trail through the Paso Picacho campground, in between  the Cedar and Coulter cabins in the back left corner between campsites 69 & 71.

The entire trail is paved, with a couple of benches along the way upon which to rest your tediously tested muscles. Or to perch your dog for a photo op.

The views along the trail are absolutely gorgeous, and the regrowth from this fire-ravaged area makes for a lush and colorful backdrop. (If you’re me, dare to look up from your woeful plodding here and there. If you’re Liz, stop to take pictures from time to time so slowmo back there can catch up.)

This trail sits across from Stonewall Peak, which is viewable in all its glory right behind you as your rise. If you find this trail to be unpalatable, hop out of the parking lot and across the road for a Stonewall hike that might be more your style.

From the towering elevation of the eventual Cuyamaca Peak, you are graced with a stunning view of the surrounding park, Lake Cuyamaca, Anza Borrego, the Laguna Mountains, and on a clear day far off in the distance, even a glimpse of the salty salty Salton Sea.


Just don’t forget when you first strike out to put on your perseverance pants.

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