- Distance: ~3.8 miles
- Elevation Gain: ~900 ft
- Difficulty: Moderate, suitable for anyone of reasonable fitness
- Dog Friendly? No. No horses or bicycles allowed either. But, we saw many kids along the way, as well as distinguished folks with more proven lifetime longevity.
- Costs? It’s an $8 parking fee across the way within the Paso Picacho campground. There is no parking on the shoulder of the road anywhere near the trailhead.
- Wildlife: Along the way we witnessed grasshoppers, butterflies, and squirrels.
Stonewall Peak is a quick out and back trail that provides a great bang for your buck. It’s one of the prettiest hikes we’ve taken in the area, and provides beautiful views for the price of a couple hours of your time. It’s always nice when you can see where you’re trying to get to, and Stonewall Peak (despite its switchbacks) offers you a full, unadulterated view of your destination right from the start. The trail is very well maintained, and there is a guardrail at the top to guide you to the peak.
The trail starts off with an immediate climb, sprinkling some mild regret onto your pile of enthusiasm. But don’t worry, the trail is worth the warm-up. There is dispersed shade along the way in the morning, but in good San Diego fashion it can still get toasty towards midday on most summer days. Fortunately for the hot hiker, there are some mighty sweet breezes at the summit, and even a few on the way back down.
Once you get to your destination, there’s an unobstructed 180° view to the east, and depending on how clear the day is (we hear) you can see all the way to the Salton Sea. To the west you are offered a lovely sample of the area’s historical run-in with wildfires, and its beautiful recovery since.
All in all, this is a great hike for out-of-towners who want to get a glimpse into everything that a hike in the Southern California region can offer, or the local hiker who wants some fresh air without the commitment of a full-day affair.