This short loop hike to the Boucher Fire Lookout Tower offers a lot to see in a short distance. The climb to the tower is gentle, and at the top, on a clear day, you can see from Mexico, to the Coronado Islands, to Mt San Jacinto. I'd venture to say the best views from Palomar Mountain State Park are from Boucher Hill. Then rom the tower, we'll hike in a loop and visit the remains of a historic homesteader's cabin.
- Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for the Boucher Trail Fire Tower Loop
- How to Get to the Trailhead at Palomar Mountain State Park
- Recommendations and Tips for the Hike
When planning, always check the park website and social media to make sure the trails are open. Similarly, check the weather and road conditions.
Boucher is pronounced "booo-ker" or "book-er" and is a misspelling of an early resident family name, the Boughers.
Where is Boucher Trail in Palomar Mountain SP?
The trailhead is easy to find. It's the first parking lot once you pass the entrance station. Use this trailhead address:
Silvercrest Picnic Area, 19952 State Park Rd, Palomar Mountain, CA 92060
There is a fee to enter Palomar Mountain State Park.
Gear For the Hike
While this isn't a technical or difficult hike, it is a backcountry one. There is no cell service for most of the hike, and you are in wilderness conditions. In the summer there can be bugs, so wear insect repellant. And in the winter, there can be snow. Check the weather before you go. Otherwise the hike is easy, and you can do this in fitness clothes or light hiking gear. Bring 1L of water.
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Boucher Trail Maps
Guides to Help You Navigate
Boucher Hill Hike Directions
Turn by Turn Directions
The dirt road ahead is marked as the Nate Harrison Grade, which is smaller dirt and paved road that goes down the mountain. It was named after an ex-slave and San Diego County’s first African-American homesteader. He's got an interesting history that you can dive into here.
Although there has been a fire lookout tower here since 1921, this structure was built in 1948 and is one of only two of this design still standing. Today it's staffed by volunteers and when it's open, you can usually visit the tower.
Who was Scott? Most likely it was B. F. Scott, who according to a 1900 census, owned the land here. According to Robert Haley Asher (1868-1953), who lived in the area from 1903-1946, an "ancient log cabin" stood around this area and was often occupied by transients and visitors. I like to think it belonged to Andreas & Elvira Scott, Native Americans who were listed in an 1880 census of the area. If you know anything more, please contact me and give me the scoop.
This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard
Hi, I'm Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn't so you don't waste money. I don't do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn't do it without folks like you!).
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