The road trip to Cleveland National Forest is an exciting experience. You will pass through great vistas, like dense forests that are not often seen near San Diego. Although it is only an hour away, the landscape is completely different, enough to make you feel as if you are in another country. We arrived at the trailhead at 7 am, rallied up and greeted each other then set out to commence our trek.
It was early morning when we started our journey. There were already other hikers present, starting their climb. It did not take long for us to figure out what makes Stonewall Peak Trail so famous. In just ten short minutes, we were pleasantly surprised with the beautiful sights, sounds and scents of the bucolic landscape surrounding us as well as the meticulously manicured trail spread out ahead of us.
The trail is just a short 5.1 mile course. However, the lack of length belies the diverse surroundings, with changes occurring every hour on the hour. There was never a dull moment. Two hours after commencement, our group reached the summit. We traversed a path of stone stairs in order to get to the observatory which was a truly magical place. Once there, you are blessed with a 360’ panoramic experience of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. One would be foolish not to take advantage of this vantage point in order to compile a memorable photographic log of our shared experience.
We conversed with other hikers making the same trek, as we experientially took in the magnificence of our surroundings. One pleasant surprise from my hiking experience is the opportunity I have had to make new friends along the way. Then, after some cool beverages and warm conversation, we began descending Stonewall Peak with the promise that we would return here soon.
On the way down, we followed Stonewall Creek Loop, which exposed us to a completely different landscape than the one experienced on the way up. That was another unexpected pleasure. We then reached the trailhead and dismounted in order to enjoy a simple barbecue. While we completed our physical trek, the endorphins (created from a shared camaraderie) lasted well into the next day.
Trailhead: 12551 CA-79, Descanso, CA 91916
Length/Est/ Difficulty: 5.1 mi (3 h +/-) / moderate
Course | Stonewall Peak
Hiking | Cocktail | Outdoor | Photography