Cuyamaca Peak (via service road)

The distinctive shape of the Cuyamaca is hard to miss from San Diego looking eastwards toward the mountains. Cuyamaca is the second highest peak in San Diego County and is one that is easily summited. My good friend James decided to tag along for this adventure. Although the temperatures were pleasant, the lack of trees from the Cedar fire, over a decade ago, does make this hike a bit toasty.

The trail basically follows the service road to the summit. Starting from the Paso Picacho Campground (fee required), the paved road works its way steadily toward the summit.  You do pass through one small remaining section of pines as you approach the summit. It is interesting seeing how the forest is slowly recovering from the fire.

Once at the summit, you are rewarded with some of the best views in all of San Diego. On a good clear day, you can see for about 100 miles. For me also being a NASA geek, finding the NASA Goddard marker was cool.

After a snack and long rest, we head down from the summit and down the Burnt Pine trail toward to Japacha Peak, which lies just south of Cuyamaca.

This took us through some more of the remaining pine forest, as we descended to the next summit. Once we approach the turnoff to the proper summit, it was clear that James’ decision to wear shorts would ensure that his poor legs would be torn up by the scrub. I worked my way partially toward the summit but turned back once I did not see a clear route. With more experience under my belt, I may return to this summit and do it properly.

Once we declared the attempt complete, we headed back along the trail to the service road and back down to the campground. The day was heating up and the lack of shade did make for a hot one.


I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea-kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 


I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea-kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 

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