Cuyamaca Peak is San Diego’s second-highest mountain and is located in Cleveland National Park. It is only 20 feet lower than its bigger brother, Hot Spring Mountain. However, it is known as San Diego’s best mountain because of its beautiful sights and well managed trails.
7 AM. The party rallied at the parking train and began hiking the mountain in earnest. Based on the Alltrails review, people were forewarned to purchase bug spray. So we were prepared but the insects’ expected onslaught was not as bad as expected. We left behind the short fire road and then turned to the unpaved Azalea Glen Loop. This 7.7 mile route is a little out of the way but the numerous diverse views of Cuyamaca Peak were well work the extra time and effort.
The Azalea Glen Loop merges with the main fire road about 90% up the mountain right where the mountain steeply slopes. It is as if the mountain was testing if we were worthy enough to hike to the top of its peak. The last 15 minutes of the hike certainly seemed so, leaving all of us out of breath.
I went judiciously step by step as I progressed toward the summit. I viewed the left over damage from the 2003 San Diego Forest Fire once I arrived. I was trying to imagine what it looked like 20 years ago, all the devastation. Then I compared to what I saw now, all the new growth. While the damage was still evident, so what the resilience of mother nature. While it is only a one hour distance from San Diego, it had more diverse breathtaking vistas that other mountains in and around San Diego. Everyone in the party agreed and immensely enjoyed hiking the mountain.
I must vociferously emphasize that the view from the mountain top was breathtaking and well worth the tough final trek of the hike. I can say with confidence that the view from Cuyamaca Peak is the best vista out of all the mountains we have hiked throughout San Diego County. However, it was a shame I could not put all the unique scenic views into one all-encompassing picture. After enjoying time for a good photo shoot, we ate some Korean rice cakes that a club member brought for everyone.
We then used the paved road to hike downhill and ended our adventure with laughter and light hearted conversation. Hiking Cuyamaca Peak was a cathartic for me. To everyone who reads this journal, I highly suggest that you visit this place.
Trailhead: 12551 CA-79, Descanso, CA 91916 (Parking $10)
Length/Est/ Difficulty: 7.7 mi (4 h +/-) / 1,227 ft / moderate
Cuyamaca Peak | AllTrails
Hiking | Cocktail | Outdoor | Photography