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Stonewall Peak, CA

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Guide 2 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CA > San Diego
3 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,875 feet
Elevation Gain 919 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,020 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 5.4
Interest Historic & Peak
Backpack Connecting Only
Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
20  2013-12-17 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, Apr, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:34am - 5:45pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Little peak with a big view
by azbackpackr

Stonewall Peak is easily one of the most popular hikes in San Diego's backcountry, and has been for decades. You're likely to encounter large groups of kids from schools and summer camps, and families as well. I hiked it when I was a kid in Campfire Girls. The peak is located in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, between Descanso and Julian. Several more prominent peaks are found in the park, including Cuyamaca Peak, 6,512 feet, one of the highest in the county. But hiking Stonewall is a great introduction to this park because from its summit you can see a good portion of the park, and a great deal of Southern California as well. The Salton Sea to the east, San Jacinto Mountain to the north and the mountains in Mexico to the south are visible. To the west you'll see the line-up of peaks called "The Three Cuyamacas," which are Cuyamaca Peak, Middle Peak, and North Peak. There are trails to the first two of these, but North Peak is not in the park and is mostly private land. (Note: Cuyamaca is pronounced "Kwee uh Mack uh," NOT "Coo yuh...")

Parking is not at the trailhead, but is in the day use area of Paso Picacho, across the highway from the trailhead. There is also a campground here. There is a day use fee per vehicle. Check fees near directions for the current rate. After visiting the self-pay booth and parking at the picnic area, walk back across the highway to the trailhead, easily visible.

In 2003 the Cedar Fire decimated Cuyamaca, burning 90% of the park, including most of its old-growth forest of oak, pine and fir on the mountain slopes. The chaparral brush is growing back, but the trees will take decades. Some efforts have been made at finding donations to purchase seedling trees, which you'll see planted alongside the Stonewall Peak trail. The campground at Paso Picacho did not burn, however, so camping there would be very pleasant under the shade of the old trees. For those of us who remember the "old" Cuyamaca, it's a bit heart-rending. In my youth, I backpacked and hiked all over the park, and used its trails as connections to get to the Laguna Mountains and Borrego Desert. Backpacking is still allowed, but is extremely limited, with only two trail camps available. Backpackers can also opt to camp in the Cleveland National Forest which partially surrounds the park, or in the car campgrounds.

Although the park has the Southern California version of a four-season climate, with occasional heavy snow in winter, the snow does not last long, and the hiking season is generally year-round. Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are possible, very occasionally.

The trail to Stonewall Peak is very straightforward, switch-backing up the slope until it gets to a T-junction at the top of a ridge. Turn right here and a short distance later make your way over boulders to the rock steps leading to the summit rock which has a railing around it. Informational placards are also placed here to orient the hiker to vistas in the four directions.

If you had turned left at the T-junction, you'd head back down the mountain on a different trail to the north. You could then connect with the Cold Stream Trail, and loop back south to the parking lot. Doing this loop would add an extra mile to the total distance hiked.

1. A very superior trail map is available from Tom Harrison Maps.
2. USGS 7.5 minute topographic map: Cuyamaca Peak.
3. Park brochure map, available online.

More information about the park can be obtained at or by calling the park at (760)735-3020.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2013-12-19 azbackpackr

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    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
    Stonewall Peak
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I had not visited Cuyamaca Rancho State Park since 1978. I had wanted to return, but knew that the Cedar Fire had burned 90% of the 25,000 acre park, so I was prepared for a big change.

    In case you didn't know, it's pronounced Kwee uh Mack uh (not Coo yuh).

    It has changed, but it is growing back.

    I hiked Stonewall Peak, a very popular hike, because I wanted do do a hike that would give me a great view without a lot of time and effort. Trails to Cuyamaca Peak, Middle Peak and Oakzanita Peak are quite a bit longer.

    On a Tuesday morning, not yet winter break, there were several groups of hikers, and a class of 6th graders with their teacher climbing the peak.

    I remember hiking Stonewall when I was a kid. I went to summer camp nearby, and it may have been with Campfire Girls that I first climbed it. I probably had not been up it since I was in my late teens.

    The view from the top is really tremendous. You can even see the Salton Sea, and turn around and see the ocean! You can see San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, Palomar, and many other mountains.

    After my hike I got back in the car and headed for the Laguna Mountains. It was as much a road trip today as a hiking trip.

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

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Interstate 8, east of San Diego, take the Descanso exit, and follow Highway 79 12 miles to Paso Picacho. From Julian, take 79 south about 11 miles. Mapquest address: 13652 Hwy 79, Julian, CA 92036
    page created by azbackpackr on Dec 19 2013 7:40 am
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