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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Scott's Cabin & Boucher Hill Loop Trail, CA

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Guide 2 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CA > San Diego
3 of 5 by 1
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Loop 3.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,229 feet
Elevation Gain 404 feet
Accumulated Gain 832 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.06
Interest Ruins, Historic & Peak
Backpack No
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
18  2014-06-16
Boucher Hill Lookout
30  2013-12-01 azbackpackr
Author azbackpackr
author avatar Guides 26
Routes 365
Photos 4,732
Trips 720 map ( 5,214 miles )
Age 66 Female Gender
Location Flag-summer-Needles-winter
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Oct, Jun, Sep → 8 AM
Sun  5:33am - 5:50pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
The other Boucher Trail
by azbackpackr

Likely In-Season!
This hike is at its best during spring and fall. In the spring, the new leaves are starting to form on the black oaks and other deciduous trees, while in the fall they are colorful, with crunchy aromatic leaves underfoot. During winter it may be chilly (it does snow on Palomar every year) and summers can be surprisingly warm.

Arriving at the tiny ranger station at Palomar Mountain State Park, pay the per car per day fee ( $$ info in permit section ). A trail map is available for $2 ( as of 2013 ), which is somewhat helpful. The parking for this trail is just past the entrance station on the left, at the Silvercrest Picnic Area. From this parking area the views are outstanding!

To start the hike, walk west along the main paved road for about .2 mile until you reach the sign for the Boucher Trail on your left, a little bit past the ranger's private residence.

Arizonans will be familiar with another Boucher Trail, the one in Grand Canyon, which is pronounced "boo-shay," named after a Frenchman. But Palomar's Boucher is pronounced "Booker." According to volunteer fire lookout Ramon Thomas, it is actually a misspelling of the name of the family who owned the property a long time ago. Their name was Bougher. Don't ask me how it was pronounced!

Walking uphill on this single track trail you'll pass many black oak trees, some with large round clumps of mistletoe attached to the branches. Mistletoe is a parasitic plant which depletes the energy of the host tree. As you approach the Boucher Fire Lookout and microwave structures you'll also see some white firs.

The historic Boucher Fire Lookout is an old wooden tower. Sometimes on weekends it's open for a tour, if the volunteer is available. This tour ended up costing me about an hour, because the volunteer had so much interesting information to pass along. The view is spectacular. I could see the ocean with four islands, San Clemente and Santa Catalina off the California coast, and the Guadalupe Islands off Mexico. I could see big peaks, including San Jacinto and San Gorgonio, with snow on top. I could see the city of San Diego, and a very long stretch of coastline. The elevation at the tower is over 5,000 feet.

When I was able to drag myself away, I still had most of the hiking loop to complete! Crossing the parking lot, I started down the hill, and quickly found the wooden gate to the continuation of the trail.

The next mile or so takes the hiker through the 2007 burned area. Chaparral has grown up thickly and is kept trimmed back by the trail crew. It is a bit like walking between two pruned hedges! Towering above this tunnel are pines, firs, and black oaks, some burned, some recovering, some unscathed from the fire.

When you reach Nate Harrison Road, cross over and pick up the trail again, with a new name, the Adams Trail. Follow it to the Cedar Grove Group Campground. Along the way you'll be walking through a thickly forested area with firs, oaks, and dogwood, until you come out into a meadow next to the campground. Keeping to the right hand side of the campground you will pass several enormous live oaks and also some of the tall cedar trees, whose bark somewhat resembles that of redwoods. Keep watching for a little sign that says "trail." Follow it, cross a small road, and start up the somewhat steep hill on the trail to Scott's Cabin. Eventually passing the remains of the cabin, turn right at the next junction, and eventually you will end up directly across the road from where you parked, at the Silvercrest Picnic Area.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2013-12-07 azbackpackr
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Review
    Scott's Cabin & Boucher Hill Loop Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    This hike is in Palomar Mountain State Park. I had driven up to the park via a dirt road called Nate Harrison Grade.

    The park is not large, only about 1800 acres. I took my time on this loop, stopping at the wonderful fire tower where volunteer fire lookout Ramon Thomas was giving tours. This fire tower is on Boucher Hill, and you take the Boucher Trail to get there (although you can also drive to it.) But "Boucher" is not pronounced like the one in Grand Canyon "Boo-shay." It is pronounced "Booker." Ramon told me that it was a family by the name of Bougher, but somewhere along the way the spelling was changed to Boucher. From the fire tower I could see San Clemente Island, which is owned by the Navy. I used to be a volunteer out there back in the 70's, rounding up feral goats. (Alston will have fun with that information...) Turns out Ramon used to work out there for over 20 years. It turned out that he and I were both born in San Diego in the same year, but in different hospitals.

    After an hour of chatting with Ramon and looking at maps, and identifying peaks--San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, the San Gabriel Mountains, Margarita Peak, Rodriguez Mountain, and many, many more--and islands--Catalina, and also the Mexican islands were visible as well as San Clemente Island, I left the tower and continued the loop. Going downhill through the old fire area is like walking between two tall hedges. The chaparral has grown up thickly, and the trail crews have to keep it trimmed back or the trail will disappear. I think it was mountain mahogany. I need to brush up on my chaparral plants. (Unintended pun!)

    I looped around through the Cedar campground, which had huge cedar trees as well as gargantuan live oaks, and on up the Scott's Cabin Trail, and back to the parking lot. Afterward I stopped at the ranger station to talk to them about volunteering there. I think I may apply to be a volunteer there. I drove to the gate of the Palomar Observatory, and checked out the Fry Creek Campground, and drove down the East Grade Road, which is the usual road, the one with all the motorcycles.

    Black oaks.

    Permit $$
    CA State Parks - Fee: typically $2-$15 per vehicle, view more information

    Cleveland Forest
    An Adventure Pass is needed when parking at any TH located in the Cleveland NF.

    More information available here

    Palomar Mountain State Park State Park

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Highway 76 follow signs to Palomar Mountain. Take South Grade Road to East Grade Road on top of Palomar, following it to Palomar Mountain State Park. Pay your fee and park at Silvercrest Picnic Area.

    Or, using Mapquest from your present location, plug in the address: 19952 State Park Rd., Palomar Mountain CA 92060. State park phone number is 760-742-3462.
    page created by HAZ_Hikebot on Dec 07 2013 11:06 am
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