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view from cuyamaca peak hike

Hike Cuyamaca Peak

The hike to Cuyamaca Peak brings you to San Diego County's second highest point at 6,512 feet. It's only 20 feet lower than the highest peak, but much easier to hike. The views you get are incredible and make this hike worth your time.

3.5 / 5
6 miles (9.7 km)
2:30 hours
1670 ft (509 m)
Trail Condition:
Paved Fire Road
Known For:
Great Views
Best Time:
Yes, in Parking Lot

Cuyamaca Peak Hike Trail Maps

Use this address in Google Maps to get to the trailhead:
Paso Picacho Campground, Julian, CA, 92036, USA

cuyamaca peak hike location

Cuyamaca Peak is about 1 hour east of downtown San Diego. Make a day of it and hike Stonewall Peak too.

cuyamaca peak hike 3d map

The hike is a straightforward out and back. This is also the easiest approach to the peak. The other side has a bigger elevation gain.

cuyamaca peak hike elevation

It's a steady uphill hike to Cuyamca Peak. Don't forget to take breaks. You can turn around and soak up the views while you catch your breath.

Interactive Map

Cuyamaca Peak Hike Map Downloads

hiking map on garmin fenix 3

If you have GPS device (I use this one by Garmin and I love it) for your hike, load the GPX file below into your device to navigate the hike. For help on loading the GPX file, read this article on converting and transferring to a Garmin GPS.

Also, don’t rely on electronics as your sole means of navigation. There’s a basic printable PDF map below, and I strongly picking up a good topo map too.

View a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

Cuyamaca Peak Hike Video

Cuyamaca Peak Hike Directions

view from cuyamaca peak hike

What to Expect

Turn by Turn Directions

cuyamaca peak hike parking
There’s plenty of parking. Make the right after the entrance gate for the main lot (not the campground on the left). The parking lot has bathrooms and picnic tables.
water on the cuyamaca peak hike
You can also fill up your water bottles here. It gets hot in the summer, make sure you have plenty of water. You will sweat going up this climb.
cuyamaca peak hike campsite map
The Lookout Fire Road is the trail you want to take. It goes around the south side of the campground. This map makes it easier to understand the layout – the campground all looks the same. You can either cut through the park office and maintenance yard to get to the trailhead, or go just past campsite 69 to find another entrance to the trail.
start of lookout fire road
If you go through the park office and maintenance yard, this is the gate at the start of the trail. It’ll be on your right as you go through the lots. The Lookout Fire Road is marked on the post.
start of cuyamaca peak hike
If you start by campsite 69, there’s a bathroom and a hiking board close by. Make the right when you get on the paved road.
trees on cuyamaca peak hike
Either way that you enter, follow the paved trail up the side of the mountain. You’ll see evidence of the forest fire on the lower slopes.
trail junctions on the cuyamaca peak hike
You’ll see some smaller trails spitting off to the sides. Stay on the paved Lookout Fire Road for the entire hike.
view of stonewall peak
It’s a steep hike, but if you stop to catch your breath, turn around to take in the views of Stonewall Peak, directly behind you.
trail split on cuyamaca peak hike
At about 1.5 miles there’s a bigger trail split. Again, stay on the paved trail the whole way up.
flowers on cuyamaca peak hike
The flowers and fauna are great here, especially in the spring.
pine trees on cuyamaca peak hike
When you’re almost at the top, you’ll notice more pine trees and sections that survived the fire. It gives you an idea of what the mountain looked like before the 2003 wildfire.
cris hazzard on cuyamaca peak hike
After that wooded stretch, the road ends at the peak. Get your selfie!
buildings on cuyamaca peak hike
After you check out the views at the end of the road, go back down a little bit to these two buildings, and then go through the gap between them and head to the other side of the peak.
path on cuyamaca peak hike
The path is a little funky, but you’ll come out on a pile of rocks with incredible views to the west.
view from cuyamaca peak hike
The views from the peak are awesome. Get your shots, be careful, and go back down the way you came up.

A quick note. These directions are meant as a guide for the hike, and not a definitive source. Conditions change, and the information here can be different based on time of day, weather, season, etc. There can be small side trails that you might see but I missed. I have made every effort to include all the information you need to complete the hike successfully. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with a map, GPX file, common sense, and call to the ranger station or park office. If you do the hike and notice something has changed, please contact me and I will update the guide.

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