Oak Grove High Point Hike

Oak Grove Trail to High Point Hike

In This Guide
  • Oak Grove Trail to High Point Hike Directions
  • Oak Grove Trail Maps
  • Gear & Prep For the Hike
Distance13.5 miles (21.7 km)
Hike Time5-6 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Hard
Total Ascent (?)3,600 feet (1097m)
Highest Elevation6,140 feet (1871m)
Fees & PermitsParking Pass / No Permit
Dog FriendlyLeashed
Park WebsiteCleveland National Forest Palomar Ranger District
Park Phone760-788-0250
Stay In Touch - - -

The 13.5 mile Oak Grove Trail to High Point hike starts in historic Warner Springs and gently makes it’s way up to one of the only active fire towers in San Diego County, which also happens to be the tallest fire tower in California. On the way you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of San Diego County and the high mountains of Southern California. The hike is not too technical and includes fire roads, but it is still a decent challenge with a fair amount of climbing.

Getting to the Trailhead

The trickiest part of the hike is finding parking and then getting to the “trail trail” from the parking lot. I’ll talk about getting to the trail in the directions section, but first let’s get the car parked.

Use this trailhead address:
Oak Grove Station, CA-79, Warner Springs, CA 92086

The trailhead parking is across the street from the Oak Grove Campground, and just north of the actual Oak Grove Fire Station.

Oak Grove Trailhead Parking
Park in the area marked by the red circle. The parking to the south is for the fire station.

You need to display a Parks Pass or Adventure Pass to park here.

Oak Grove High Point Hike 2
There’s not a ton of parking here but I’ve never seen it crowded. Worse case, you can park across the street at the campground.

Gear For the Hike

It’s a long hike and I’d recommend proper hiking gear. There’s very little shade, so prepare accordingly. I bring 3L of water; there’s nowhere to refill on the route. There can also be bugs so a head net and repellant are good to have. And like many of the peaks around San Diego, it can get very hot in the summer and it can snow in the winter, although it’s generally snow-free.

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La Sportiva Spire

I try a lot of hiking boots and shoes, and there are some great options out there, but the La Sportiva Spire is the best combination of comfort, protection, low-weight, and durability. They are waterproof, and the high cuff keeps debris out without the need for a gaiter. Time tested over thousands of miles. Use them with a two-layer sock system to end blisters for good.
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Osprey Talon

On a medium or longer hike I recommend a pack like the Osprey Talon 33 (men) or Osprey Sirrus 36 (women) which is a little bit larger. These packs are on the upper end of the (35L) daypack range, but they only weigh a small fraction more than a pack with less capacity. Having the extra space gives you more flexibility and means you don’t have to jam things in there. I use the space for things like extra layers in the winter, extra water on desert hikes, and even a tent & sleeping bag on overnights.

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI.

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here

No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.

Oak Grove Trail to High Point Trail Maps

You get a little bit of everything on these trails. The beginning winds through some residential areas, then there’s a primitive trail commonly find in Cleveland NF, and then fire roads. I don’t normally enjoy hiking fire roads but the views on this route make it a pleasure.

Click To View Map

Oak Grove Trail to High Point Hike Map Downloads

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

Fenix 6 Pro

I’m a big fan of GPS watches to follow my GPX track (which I also use as a sleep, wellness, and fitness tracker) and my current watch is the Fenix 6 Pro Solar (full review here). I load my GPX tracks onto the watch to make sure I’m in the right place, and if not, the onboard topo maps allow me to navigate on the fly. It’s pricey but it has a great battery, accurate GPS, and tons of functionality. If you want something similar without the maps and big price tag, check out the Garmin Instinct which is a great buy and does a lot of the same things.

Elevation Profile

Oak Grove Trail To High Point Hike Elevation
There’s no escaping it, you have to go up for the payoff. The good news is that aside from a few short steep sections, it’s a gradual climb.

Hike Landmarks

LandmarkDistanceElevation
Parking02750
Trail Start0.62850
Fire Road Start2.04200
Palomar Divide Road5.45600
High Point6.56140

3D Trail Map

Oak Grove Trail To High Point 3d Map
The trail climbs up the side of the mountain until it reaches the ridgeline. From there you follow the ridge and fire roads to the summit of Palomar Mountain.

Hike Notes

Warner And His Ranch
Don’t let JJ Warner’s beard scare you off; there’s a lot of interesting history on this hike. Here’s the original Warner Ranch that stood close to the trailhead. Warner Springs was an important area in the early settlement of Southern California. Photo Jack Boucher

How To Hike to High Point From Oak Grove

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Video Directions

FYI I have a version of this video in 360/VR format. Not familiar with the benefits of 360 video? Then watch this.

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Turn-by-Turn Directions

The beginning of the hike can be the trickiest. Luckily it’s well marked with trail signs, but it doesn’t feel like a hike as you wind your way through a small residential area. This area houses the local Hotshots fire-fighting team.

Oak Grove Trail Start
Here’s an overview of the beginning of the hike from the parking lot.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 3
From the lot head to the Northwest corner to the dirt road.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 4
Look for the post that marks the Oak Grove Trail. Once you leave the lot bear to the left on the dirt road.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 5
Go straight on the dirt road following the Oak Grove signs.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 6
Keep going straight on the dirt road.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 7
The dirt road crosses a wash.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 8
Look for the Oak Grove sign and turn to the left onto a trail (leaving the road).
Oak Grove Start 2
Here’s an overview of the next section. You’re on a trail, dirt road, then back on a trail. That’s the end of the tricky part.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 9
This short section is a trail and still well marked.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 10
When the trail section ends, you are back on the dirt road. Keep bearing right on the road.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 11
Bear right onto the dirt road to the right.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 12
There’s a short stretch on the dirt road.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 13
TADA! Finally you’re out of the residential maze and onto the Oak Grove Trail proper. Make the right!
Oak Grove High Point Hike 14
The trail climbs up the mountainside with some steep sections and switchbacks. It can be overgrown but is generally easy to follow.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 15
The steep sections can have some loose dirt. You’ll be climbing up to the hills in front of you.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 16
You’ll start getting some sweet views down into Warner Springs.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 17
And shortly after that you’ll get even better views including San Gorgonio, San Jacinto, and Cahuilla Mountain in the foreground.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 18
The trail ends at the Oak Grove Truck Trail. Make the right and hike up the truck trail.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 19
There’s a nice sign by the trail so you don’t miss it on the way back down.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 1
The fire road is easy to follow and is pretty sandy.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 20
Go straight through the gate along the truck trail.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 21
Keep left as the dirt road becomes High Point Road.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 22
As High Point Road twists south you’ll be able to spot High Point Fire Tower in the distance.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 23
Continue on the fire road which starts to level off as it approaches a saddle.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 24
High Point Road goes over a saddle that offers nice views to the south of Santa Rosa and Toro Peak.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 25
Shortly after that you come to a junction. Make the right on Palomar Divide Truck Trail.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 27
Keep going straight on the road, avoiding the left which seems like the way to the summit. We’re going to twist around the north side of Palomar Mountain before reaching the summit.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 28
When you get to the railing, make the hard left and continue uphill through a shaded section.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 29
When you reach the split, bear left to hit the summit.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 30
Keep your eyes open to the right for a glimpse of Palomar Observatory.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 31
And BOOM here you are at the summit.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 32
If you see the fire watcher be sure to say hello. Every time that I’m up here I have a nice conversation with them.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 33
There’s also some picnic benches where you can take a break and have a snack.
Oak Grove High Point Hike 34
From here you just head back the way you came. Have fun!

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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