hiking stonewall peak trail

Hiking Stonewall Peak Trail

In This Guide
  • How to Get to Stonewall Peak
  • Stonewall Peak Trail Maps
  • Turn by Turn Hike Directions
  • What You Need To Do the Hike
Distance5.4 miles (8.7 km)
Time2:30 hours
DifficultyEasy
Total Climbing1,050 feet (320m)
Highest Elevation5,730 feet (1747m)
Dog FriendlyNo
ParkCuyamaca Rancho State Park
Park Phone760-765-0755

The Stonewall Peak Trail hike is the most popular hike in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park for good reason. It’s not too tough, offers great 360 views from Cuyamaca Rancho State Park to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and has a unique bald rock face summit. Give the hike a try, you won’t be disappointed. Stonewall Peak, at 5730ft high, is also right next to the 2nd highest peak in San Diego County, Cuyamaca Peak, and both can be hiked in a day. Break your hikes up with a picnic in Paso Picacho Campground.

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park sits on top of rounded hills of granitic and metamorphic rock. This rock is the ancient roots of the Peninsular Range, once volcanic and as high as the Andes Mountains, today worn down by 120 millions years of erosion. As you hike up the dome of Stonewall Peak, it’s easy to imagine how this was once a volcano.

Stonewall Mine
The Stonewall Mine was in the shadow of Stonewall Peak, sucking gold out of the hills. This is a picture of the mine from 1890. Photo California State Parks

In 1869 gold fever hit the area, and the Stonewall mine opened just south of Stonewall Peak. At the mine’s peak, between 1886 to 1891, it produced over 7,000 pounds of gold while regularly employing 200 men. The area around Stonewall Peak was home to a small town that supported the mine, called Cuyamaca City. The mines closed in 1906, and the area was a mountain resort for a short time before becoming a state park in 1933. Many of the trails that you will hike on were created by the Civilian Conservation Corps shortly after that.

Where is Stonewall Peak?

Use this GPS address to get to the trailhead: Paso Picacho Campground, Julian, CA, 92036, USA.

The Stonewall Peak Trail is in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, and there’s an entry fee. If you have a California State Parks Pass, entry is free. There’s camping and other hikes in the park, so if you want to make a weekend of it, it’s an option.

Gear for the Hike

It can get hot in the summer, cold in the winter, so check the weather before you get here. Here’s what I recommend:

Garmin inreach review

If you want hiking gear recommendations, check out my full gear list. I only recommend and review gear that I actually use. No company pays me to push their product. Everything on my gear list is battle tested on the trails, and should work well for you too.

See The Gear I Use

Stonewall Peak Trail Maps

Fenix 5x Hiking Review

I highly recommend bringing some form of paper map with you, and then using it in conjunction with a GPS device. You can see the navigation gear that I use here (I’m currently using the Fenix 5x and love it). Just download the GPX file below and load it onto your GPS.

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

stonewall peak trail 3d map
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.
hiking stonewall peak trail elevation
The main climb is at the beginning. After the summit, it’s all downhill or flat.

Stonewall Peak Hike Directions

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Turn by Turn Directions

hiking stonewall peak trail parking
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.
stonewall peak trail hiking board
Check the hiking board for any alerts and get started on the Stonewall Mountain Trail.
stonewall peak trail sign
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.
hiking stonewall peak trail
The Stonewall Peak Trail is well marked and starts to climb towards the peak.
stonewall peak
As you climb on the lower slopes, you’ll see Stonewall Peak looming in front of you.
stonewall peak trail closure
There might be some trail closures. Follow the signs and official trail routing. Everything is very well marked.
stonewall peak trail switchbacks
The trail meanders up a series of switchbacks. It goes uphill, but it’s not super tough.
Cuyamaca Peak
You have nice views of San Diego county’s second highest peak, Cuyamaca Peak.
stonewall peak trail switchbacks
As you climb, the trails’s switchbacks are well marked with a fence.
stonewall peak trail spur
At about 1.9 miles, you reach the junction with the peak trail spur. Make the right and head toward the peak.
stonewall peak trail sign
Again, look for the sign posts, which show what trail you’re on.
rocks on stonewall peak trail
Scramble through the rocks and head toward the peak. The trail is less defined here but just head up.
handrail on stonewall peak trail
Keep an eye out for the handrail on the rocks. Head toward that.
stone stairs on stonewall peak trail
Follow the trail up the stone stairs.
stonewall peak
Stonewall Peak!
cris hazzard on 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.
stonewall peak trail junction
Once you’re done, head back down the way you came to the last trail junction.
stonewall peak 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.

hiking stonewall peak trail
The Stonewall Peak Trail is well marked, but there are several side trails to overlooks. Stay on the well-marked path.
hiking stonewall peak trail
The trail starts to descend and quickly becomes more mellow.
Little Stonewall Peak
As you hike, you’ll see Little Stonewall Peak to your right.
views on stonewall peak trail
Soak in the views to the north as you descend the switchbacks on the Stonewall Peak Trail.
Vern Whitaker Trail
At about 3.7 miles, you come to a trail intersection. Make the left onto Vern Whitaker Trail.
hiking stonewall peak 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.
hiking stonewall peak trail
Shortly after that (around 3.9 miles) there’s another junction, stay left.
hiking stonewall peak trail
At 4.2 miles or so, there’s a side trail to the road. Stay to the left.
view of stonewall peak
As you head back to the start, you’ll get nice views of Stonewall Peak.
end of stonewall peak trail
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.

You can help other hikers. If you do this hike and something has changed, snap a few photos and email me the details. I’ll update the guide so that others can do the hike safely.

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