Situated among San Diego’s diverse landscapes, Anza Borrego Desert State Park offers a hidden gem for hiking enthusiasts, the challenging Grapevine Mountain trail. This scenic route will guide you through the park’s beautiful, yet arduous landscapes, presenting you with breathtaking views of the Cuyamaca, Laguna, and Volcan Mountains.
Trailhead Information and Facilities
Starting your journey on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), the trailhead is relatively easy to locate. Keep in mind, though, that there are no notable facilities available, so be sure to bring all the essentials you’ll need. As of the date of this article, there’s no permit or entry fee required to hike the trail, adding to the charm of this underrated San Diego hike.
About Grapevine Mountain
Characterized by its rugged terrain and elevated topography, the Grapevine Mountain trail is a demanding 6.5-mile out-and-back path that might test even the most seasoned hikers. Its 1,700-foot elevation gain leads to a peak height of 3,957 feet, making it a challenging but rewarding trek. This journey typically takes about five hours to complete and has a total elevation gain of approximately 2,200 feet. Regrettably, due to its arduous nature, this trail is not pet-friendly.
Hiking Grapevine Mountain
Navigating the Grapevine Mountain trail will require a certain degree of off-trail maneuvering. As such, bringing a map is crucial. The PCT is distinctly marked and easy to follow. Once you leave the PCT for Grapevine Mountain, the hike requires navigation skills and some exploration to reach the summit. You’ll encounter diverse terrain, ranging from sandy trails to rocky ascents, making for a remarkable Anza Borrego hiking experience.
What to Expect on Grapevine Mountain
This hike features an array of unique vegetation and geological formations. Be prepared for steep inclines, loose rocks, and many thorny cacti – proper footwear and long pants are advisable. Be sure to pack plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks. While the trail is considered difficult, the reward is extraordinary: unparalleled panoramic views and, during the spring, beautiful wildflower blooms.
When to Go
What to Bring & Wear
- At least three liters of water
- Hiking shoes or boots with plenty of traction
- Topographic map
- Sunscreen & hat
- Appropriate layers
- Long pants