Cuyamaca Peak

A few impressions from my first hike to Cuyamaca Peak, via the old Fire Road from the Paso Picacho campground. The road is still mostly pavement (although crumbling and deteriorating in some spots), the elevation change is ~1600 feet/500m – which is about the only challenge on this hike.

Cuyamaca Peak is just not the highest peak in San Diego County – Hot Springs Mountain in the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation near Warner Springs is slightly higher.

Unfortunately, much of the area has been severely burned in a wildfire, and the once densely forested areas that were among the most beautiful in San Diego County (according to friends who lived here and hiked it before the fires) are now an eerie assembly of tree skeletons.

It was sunny when I hiked up but since the hike starts from the east, I didn’t see what was waiting for me when I finally reached the spot high above the campground that offers the first views to the west – marine stratus clouds were slowly rolling in, pulling an impenetrable veil over the landscape below me. The vapor rolled onto the west-facing slopes of Cuyamaca Mountains like gentle waves in slow motion. It was very beautiful.

The peak itself is developed, unfortunately – an array of various antennas and generators limit access and visibility somewhat. Not unusual for Southern California, but for a lookout like Cuyamaca Peak, it’s a bit of a pity of course.

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