The Noble Canyon Trail is located in the beautiful Laguna Mountains. Known for its steep and rugged terrain, this trail is a favorite among hikers looking for a challenging and rewarding experience. The Penny Pines trailhead is located just off the Sunrise Highway…
The Hauser Canyon Trail hike takes you along a section of the PCT south of Lake Morena and past Morena Butte. Most of the trail is well traveled, though in the lower portion of the hike within the canyon the trail can get overgrown and difficult…
Horsethief Canyon Trail is a quick, family friendly out and back waterfall hike just outside of Alpine, Ca. The trail starts with a quick descent into the canyon before stopping at the Pine Valley Creek crossing. During the wet months, from late fall…
Distance:7.2 miles | Hiking time:4-5 hours | Difficulty: 7/10
Bell Bluff is one of several prominent peaks located around the town of Alpine, Ca. The trail leading to Bell Bluff starts in a quiet neighborhood where it crosses the Sweetwater River before leading you up and out of the canyon. The hike to Bell Bluff is relatively easy and the trail is well-traveled and good for hiking and trail running.
The summit of Bell Bluff is accessed by way of a small trail that leads you up the western face of the peak. Getting to the top will require a steel will, some good hiking shoes and a willingness to do some light bushwhacking and rock scrambling. Take care when attempting to summit, however, because you are exposed in some areas of the climb. A fall could be serious, and this hike should not be attempted by people who are inexperienced, improperly prepared, or not physically fit.
Distance:2.4 miles | Hiking time:1.5 hours | Difficulty: 5/10
Garnet Peak is located just off the Pacific Coast Trail on the northeastern edge of the Laguna Mountains. At 5900’ in elevation, it sits at number seven on the Sierra Club’s list of the 100 highest peaks in San Diego County.
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.
The hike up Middle Peak in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is like walking through a history lesson of San Diego County’s wildfires. In 2003, the Cedar Fire decimated the park’s population of centuries old sugar pine trees. The effects of the destruction are still clearly visible along every step of the trails surrounding Middle Peak.
Today, the habitat is recovering. Young oak trees and pine saplings are beginning to take hold, as are the manzanita trees that are so prevalent in Southern California. Wildlife is beginning to return to the area as well. Deer and large birds of prey are a common sight on the trails leading up Middle Peak. From what I hear, even the occassional bald eagle makes a stop in Cuyamaca.
Despite the destruction, the views from Middle Peak are still the primary attraction of this hike. The main trails, Milk Ranch Road and Middle Peak Fire Road, are frequently used by both hikers and mountain bikers. The smaller adjoining trails, Sugar Pine Trail and Black Oak Trail, are accessible only on foot and offer a more secluded feel.
Stonewall Peak sits just outside Paso Picacho Campground in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. The trail to the summit is a well maintained series of switchbacks that gradually ascends the western face of the mountain. This is a quick, relatively easy hike with outstanding views that stretch north as far as the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountains.
Standing at 6512 feet, Cuyamaca Peak holds the top spot on the Sierra Club’s 100 Peaks of San Diego County list, and is officially the second highest point in the county. During the winter, Cuyamaca is one of the few places in San Diego that’s almost guaranteed to get snow. Aside from the views along the way, hiking the paved road to the summit isn’t that noteworthy. But if you don’t mind putting in the work to get there, the views from the summit are better than anywhere in the county.
South Fortuna Trail is best known for the wooden stairs that lead you up the final ascent to the summit, but there’s so much more to love about this trail. If you’re in search of a fun and diverse hike with an abundance of scenery and a few worthy challenges, then the hike to South Fortuna Peak will not disappoint. Oh, and did I mention that the views from the summit of South Fortuna Peak are spectacular?