VIA THE AZALEA GLEN LOOP
CUYAMACA RANCHO STATE PARK
Activity: Day Hike, Peak Bagging
8 Miles, 6,512’ elevation, 1870’ elevation gain, 4 hour duration, rated Moderate
Cuyamaca Peak is one of the “Six Pack of Peaks” coveted by Peak Baggers for being the second highest peak in San Diego County. The views from the top stretch from Mexico to the Coronado Islands, San Jacinto, to Granite Mountain in Anza Borrego, and it really is quite spectacular.
The State Park Charges $10 for day use, and there is a campground there if you are so inclined. This hike is a loop and I recommend doing it counter clockwise. If I had more time I might have done the hike as an out and back utilizing the Azalea Glen Trail portion in both directions. The second portion of this hike is down a paved fire road and that certainly is not my favorite, but you can cruise down it relatively quickly.
The hike starts out rather flat and gentle weaving through a wooded area with a variety of trees such as oak, alder and pine. Even though this area is recovering from one of the worst wildfires, a large portion of the trail is shielded from that view as the brush is built up along the trail. The hike becomes steeper adding some switch backs and you will experience some rocky areas so sturdy hike boots are a plus. You will be dumped out on a dirt fire road for a small section before taking the Conejos Trail all the way toward the summit where the final section is on the paved fire road called Lookout Road. On top you will have astounding views all around.
This state park had a series of incidents in the 80’s and 90’s regarding mountain lion attacks one which was fatal. Encounters with cougars are very rare. If you have a backpack on, leave it on to protect your back and neck as much as possible. If you should run across one of these animals make yourself big, wave your arms, throw rocks and sticks, yell at it, and do not crouch down. How do you pick up a rock? Well, that is a good question. We have all seen that one viral video where the mountain lion followed the guy for like a mile, and every time he bent over to pick up a rock it charged all fangs and claws, but when he finally did get a rock and flung it at the large cat it took off in a flash. The good news is those attacks were a long time ago and nothing like that has happened in over 25 years.
As I mentioned I took the paved route down on the Lookout Fire Road as shown on the map. It was late in the day so I just cruised down the road. Not the natural feeling that I felt on the way up, but it was quicker.
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