Anza-Borrego Desert: Cuyamaca Peak Loop
||15.3 mile (loop) - 6 Hour, 30 minutes (loop). Moderate.
||4000 - 6420 feet
||All car, see below.
This is a scenic but long loop hike up Cuyamaca Peak.
From Sweetwater parking head east, soon going underneath the bridge, pooling water might an obstacle.
On the West Side Trail head South/West. Turn right (North) on Monument Trail, now heading uphill.
Continue on West Mesa Fire Rd, at the next exit keep right on West Mesa trail.
Where Burn Pine Trail meets West Mesa trail, the short route is up Burn Pine Trail, we keep on following West Mesa trail,
Follow Fern Flat Trail up to Fern Flat Fire Rd. Fern Flat Fire Rd is a wide road heading slowly uphill.
Once reaching Lookout Fire Rd, turn rather steep uphill on an seemingly never ending climb up to the peak.
The actual peak is fenced off and covered with antenna.
Now going down rocky Burn Pine Trail, probably the most scenic part of the trip in dense Ericameria parishii parishii ; Parish's goldenbush and Arctostaphylos pringlei drupacea ; Pinkbracted manzanita.
Once back on West Mesa trail, head downhill up to the next crossing, now take Arroyo Seco followed by Fox Trail.
Arroyo Seco eventually becomes a wide fire road.
Exit on West Side Trail heading east.
On our way back we opted for the easy route crossing the 79 (over the guard rail) and heading over the bridge along the 79, avoiding ending up in the pool of water.
Warning: This isn't the easiest route. Hiking up the steep asphalt Lookout Fire Road is much shorter, but steep and very boring.
The trail head of the shortest option is Paso Picacho Campground, opposite the Stonewall Peak trail head.
How to get here:
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, start at free Sweetwater trail head parking along the 79.
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