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Hiking the Stonewall Peak Trail to the summit is one of my favorite hikes. At the top you'll find a stone lookout with 360 views of the surrounding peaks. It's one of the more unique summits out there and worth a visit.
5.4 miles (8.7 km)
Great Views, Unique Summit
Yes, in parking lot.
Stonewall Peak Trail Trail Maps
Use this address in Google Maps to get to the trailhead:
Paso Picacho Campground, Julian, CA, 92036, USA
Stonewall Peak is about a 1 hour drive east of downtown San Diego. There are other hikes and activities at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, so you can make a day trip out of it.
This Stonewall Peak Trail hike takes you in a scenic loop. If you want to shorten the hike, you can just go up and come back the way you came. More on that option in the turn by turn directions below.
The main climb is at the beginning. After the summit, it's all downhill or flat.
Interactive Map Stonewall Peak Trail Map Downloads Gear for the Stonewall Peak Trail The best hydration daypack out there. The CamelBak Fourteener has been perfect on hikes of all distances (including Mt Whitney and Cactus to Clouds). It's light, has plenty of room for super-food snacks, extra layers, hiking gear, and comes with a 3 liter water bladder. I also like the raised sweat pads on the back that keep your back dry. It's the perfect blend of high-tech, durability, and simplicity. I've got hundreds of hours on it and still love it. CamelBak Fourteener Reviews My favorite hiking boot of all time. The La Sportiva Synthesis (for men and women) are waterproof, super-light, have incredible grip, and won a Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice Award ( my review here). I've gone through a lot of boots and these are my favorite. They feel like comfortable sneakers with the protection of hiking boots. La Sportiva Hiking Boot Reviews Don't hike without this in your backpack. It's a GPS emergency beacon and can save your life ( more on that here). On the trail, you're often out of cell phone range, and even something as simple as a twisted ankle could become a life and death situation. This beacon works where cell phones don't and is the size of a fist. Just press a button and help is on the way. Your life is worth every penny. ACR GPS Beacon Reviews For my complete gear list and survival kit contents, please check out my post on the modern hiking essentials here. I'd also recommend taking a quick look at the Every day they mark down great quality hiking gear, fitness gear, and clothing. Pick up an inexpensive lifetime REI Outlet site. REI Membership for an extra 10% off. Stonewall Peak Trail Video Stonewall Peak Trail Directions What to Expect Turn by Turn Directions Park in the Paso Picacho Campground, then cross the street from where you entered the park. The trailhead is directly across the street from the campground entrance. Check the hiking board for any alerts and get started on the Stonewall Mountain Trail. The trails are well marked in the park. These signs tell you what trail you’re on. You’ll be following the Stonewall Peak Trail to the summit. The Stonewall Peak Trail is well marked and starts to climb towards the peak. As you climb on the lower slopes, you’ll see Stonewall Peak looming in front of you. There might be some trail closures. Follow the signs and official trail routing. Everything is very well marked. The trail meanders up a series of switchbacks. It goes uphill, but it’s not super tough. You have nice views of San Diego county’s second highest peak, Cuyamaca Peak. As you climb, the trails’s switchbacks are well marked with a fence. At about 1.9 miles, you reach the junction with the peak trail spur. Make the right and head toward the peak. Again, look for the sign posts, which show what trail you’re on. Scramble through the rocks and head toward the peak. The trail is less defined here but just head up. Keep an eye out for the handrail on the rocks. Head toward that. Follow the trail up the stone stairs. Stonewall Peak! The summit is very cool. There’s a sign in every direction that lets you know what peaks you’re looking at. Soak it all in and take your pictures. Once you’re done, head back down the way you came to the last trail junction. When you reach the junction with the main trail, hike to the right.
Note: if you want to end your hike here, you can simply go back down the way you came. This route takes you back to the start of the hike on a route with less crowds.
The Stonewall Peak Trail is well marked, but there are several side trails to overlooks. Stay on the well-marked path. The trail starts to descend and quickly becomes more mellow. As you hike, you’ll see Little Stonewall Peak to your right. Soak in the views to the north as you descend the switchbacks on the Stonewall Peak Trail. At about 3.7 miles, you come to a trail intersection. Make the left onto Vern Whitaker Trail. The trail is pretty flat and heads through tranquil grasslands with some good wildflower spotting opportunities. I saw some quail when I was here. Shortly after that (around 3.9 miles) there’s another junction, stay left. At 4.2 miles or so, there’s a side trail to the road. Stay to the left. As you head back to the start, you’ll get nice views of Stonewall Peak. At about 5.3 miles, you come back to the junction where you started. Make the right to head back to the road and parking. An easy way to give back is to simply pick up any trash you see on the trail. 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.
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.
The 10 hiking essentials are the recommended key survival tools that hikers should bring with them on every hike. The original 10 essentials date back the 1930s. Here’s my take on the modern hiking essentials and how to use them.
I’m Hiking Guy, aka Cris Hazzard. I like to get outdoors, walk, and then write about it. It wasn’t always like that though.
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