Cuyamaca Peak

Paso Picacho to Cuyamaca Peak via Lookout Fire Road and Azalea Glen Trail
(8 miles, +1,700/-1,700 feet).

Sometimes we make big plans.  And then life happens.

Mixmaster and I originally planned to go check out the record snowfall in the Sierras with a trip to Olancha Peak, but work obligations, birthdays, and even ER visits chipped away at our three day block on the calendar, leaving us with just a half day to hike.

Undeterred, we decided to do something local, so I suggested we do San Diego County’s second-highest mountain, Cuyamaca Peak.

The highest peak in the county is Hot Springs Mountain, but that one sits on private land and it is a royal pain in the ass to get to.  The last time I called them about doing a hike they not only said they charged $20 but they also required people to come in two cars in case one of the cars breaks down.

Fuck that.  Sometimes (maybe most of the time) second best is the best.

So Mixmaster and i headed out to Paso Picacho campground in Cuyamaca State Park to climb number two.

We decided to do the relatively unscenic Lookout Fire Road first to get the 1,700 foot climb out of the way.  Just below the peak we would head down the Conjejos Trail a bit to take the Burnt Pine Trail the last little bit to the top.  On the way up we passed lots of blooming bushes and got great views of the incredibly-full (for once) Lake Cuyamaca.

Unusual to see Lake Cuyamaca at its ‘normal’ size
Beautiful Manzanita blossoms
Bloomin’ bushes and brimming banks

We made the peak in no time at all (funny how fast day hikes seem now that I have been doing so many longer trips).

USGS was here
Lonely guardians of Cuyamaca Peak

There is a sky island pine forest near the summit and it was nice watching the lake peek in and out of the trees as we made our way back down.


The Azalea Glen trail is actually really nice (much to Mixmaster’s surprise) and we enjoyed the meandering path through the forest as it descended back to the chaparral.

Into the woods
Trailside flora
Down to the chaparral

Water was flowing everywhere and we really enjoyed the woodpeckers and butterflies on our trip back to Paso Picacho.

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