Hiking Cuyamaca Peak Overview
Cuyamaca Peak is a beautiful hike in eastern San Diego County, located within Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. There are multiple routes up to the beautiful views on-top of Cuyamaca Peak, this guide will detail the route starting at the Azalea Glen Loop Trail. This guide takes you on a 7.76 mile loop up and down Cuyamaca Peak.
The Parking lot for this trailhead can be found on Google maps here, and parking when we went cost $10.
We went on this hike the week of Christmas and it was a colder late afternoon hitting temperatures in the 30's at the peak with some crazy wind! We pretty much had the entire hike to ourselves, and I loved the changing scenery we experienced while hiking up to the top of Cuyamaca!
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Cuyamaca Peak Hiking Map
My Cuyamaca map can be viewed and downloaded on Caltopo here.
Cuyamac Peak Trail Guide
Once Parked it was a bit chilly and I am glad I chose to leave our apartment in hiking pants, and a long sleeve merino wool shirt! The Azalea Glen Loop Trailhead was a short walk from where we parked.
The Azalea Glen Loop trail is very well maintained and very well marked. The trail starts off nice and flat and very smooth, so smooth you could pull a wagon or push a baby carriage on it.
Along the initial part of the hike you can see a lot of the aftermath from the Cedar Fire which happened in 2003, and its crazy think its been so many years and the aftermath is still so visible.
As you continue hiking along the Azalea Glen Trail it slowly begins to narrow and the vegetation begins to get thicker.
A lot of this hike was a little deceiving to me, Cuyamaca Peak I feel was hidden from view for most of the hike. I kept glancing at the map and looking towards wear I thought the peak should be but I couldn't see it. This is because the hike starts fairly flat, goes into a little bit of a climb then flattens out a bit before the climb up to the peak. It's a bit stretched out so you can't see the peak when you are going up the first climb.
Since you can't see Cuyamaca Peak yet, you do get some nice views in the opposite direction from where you just started to hike up from.
Remember earlier when we first started out and I said the hike is extremely well maintained and super smooth? Well, as you continue to climb up to Cuyamaca Peak the trail gets more rocky and wild!
After the first uphill section you will come to an intersection and be leaving the Azalea Glen Trail. At this point the trail opens up wide and smooths out as it takes you to Conejos Trail which we will take to Look Out Road and up the last bit to the peak.
This Fire Road was a nice smooth break before the final push to the top. As you hike along the fire road make sure you are paying attention and keeping an eye out for the Conejos Trail on the left. We almost missed the small trail and sign.
As you hike up Conejos Trail to Cuyamaca Peak the scenery starts to change again as we begin to enter into a more full forest area of the hike. This part of the hike was my favorite part, before we hit the final paved road that leads to the peak. The trail almost closes up around you but opens up with windows with great views of down below.
Other than the views from the top of Cuyamaca Peak my favorite part of the trail was a small stretch of Conejos Trail that was like a mini forest tunnel.
Towards the end of Conejos Trail you can finally begin to see the Cuyamaca Peak, but its still not easy since there are some nice big trees blocking the view:
Not far after the picture above Conejos Trail comes to an end and intersects with the final stretch up to Cuyamaca Peak. At this point the "trail" ends and your feet hit pavement for the first time since the parking lot. At this point just follow the road up!
Usually when you hit a road, the hike gets kind of boring, but for us there was some crazy wind and the road despite being in the forest had a lot less natural protection then the trail had and we could really feel the dropping temperatures at this point.
The road up to Cuyamaca Peak was pretty easy hiking compared to the rockiness fun trails we experienced earlier on our hike. At this point we were just battling the wind and the cold. When we got to the peak there was a nice container that blocked the wind and protected my camera and tripod from blowing over. We quickly braved the wind for a couple of pictures at the peak then packed up and followed the road all the way back down to the parking lot. The hike down from the peak was very quick since it was all paved road, and at this point with the sun starting to get low in the sky the smooth road was nice!