Pine Mountain Loop is a fun, scenic hike that uses a series of connecting trails and fire roads to circle around, and eventually past the summit of Pine Mountain. The route is frequented by hikers and mountain bikers and offers views of Cuyamaca Peak, Middle Peak, Stonewall Peak and more. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take a short hike off trail to the summit for a secluded picnic in a pine tree forest.
Pine Mountain Loop Route
Park at the Pioneer Mail Picnic area and cross Sunrise Highway to the Pine Mountain Trail trailhead. Follow Pine Mountain Trail for approximately 2.4 miles to the Indian Creek Trail crossing.
Head north on Indian Creek Trail for another 2 miles toward Pine Valley Creek until you reach Deer Park Road. Deer Park Road is a well cut fire road that parallels the boundary of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.
Follow Deer Park Road northeast for a little more than 1 mile until you reach the top of the hill and the junction for Indian Potrero Road. Indian Potrero Road is a major fire road and the only connection before Deer Park Road heads down into the valley.
After about 1.5 miles on Indian Potrero Road you will catch your first real glimpse of the summit. You may see some old tire tracks that go east towards the summit. Follow the path and you will soon find yourself immersed in a beautifully quiet pine tree forest. The perfect spot for a picnic.
From this point, it’s an easy 1.5 mile hike back to Pine Mountain Trail. Take Pine Mountain Trail east to complete the loop and return back to the Pioneer Mail Picnic area parking lot.
Pine Mountain Loop trail info.
- Distance: 10 miles
- Hiking time: 5-6 hours
- Type: Loop
- Elevation gain: 1800’
- Difficulty: 7/10 (distance, off-trail navigation)
- Elevation: 5640’
- Rank on 100 peaks list: 15/100
- Usage: Hiking, Trail running, Mountain biking, Backpacking, Dogs allowed
- When to go: Spring, Fall, Winter
- Permits Required: Adventure pass ($5.00)
- Agency: Cleveland National Forest
Map & directions for Pine Mountain Loop
- Directions to trailhead (via Google Maps)
More trails near Pine Mountain Loop
Photos of Pine Mountain Loop
- John Muir Trail Day 13 – Mt. Whitey Summit from Crabtree Meadows Past Guitar Lake - January 10, 2017
- John Muir Trail Day 12 – Vidette Meadows Over Forester Pass to Crabtree Meadows. - January 9, 2017
- John Muir Trail Day 11 – Lake Marjorie over Pinchot Pass and Glen Pass to Vidette Meadows. - January 8, 2017