One of the main attractions in the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in Descano, CA, Stonewall Peak has not only a grand view of both the forestry scene of the San Diego area and of Mexico, but has a beautiful and transformative trail as you ascend towards the peak. Given the right time and weather conditions, Stonewall Peak can easily become a winter wonderland in June.
- Date visited: December 12, 2015
- Trail name(s): Stonewall Peak
- Weather conditions: clear skies; snowy trail
- Length: 3.5 hour round trip
- Difficulty: moderate
“The peak was named for a gold mine located on its northeast slope, originally the “Stonewall Jackson Mine” founded in 1870 by William Skidmore. Due to intense feelings after the Civil War, the name was changed to “Stonewall Mine”. It produced more than $2 million before it closed in 1892.”
*Hundred Peaks (http://www.hundredpeaks.org/guides/32f.htm)
The peak is a moderate difficulty hike, and there is a lot more open space and views then our previous locations, where we find ourselves in the middle of a forest as we hike. However, the beautiful part about this hike is the presence of snow. SNOW! IN FRICKIN’ SAN DIEGO AREA!!! The weather during our time there was chilly in the late morning, and although I’m not familiar with geography, the mountain ranges helped retain the coldness in the area, thus the snow. Note, however, that since it is during winter time, the presence of snow will not be there always and thus the road conditions may vary. But if you do like snow and hiking up snowy trails, then we suggest coming during the winter time, ideally December.
The trail entrance is behind a parking lot that lies across from the ranger station, the visitor center and the restrooms. There is no fee going into the national park but there is some windy and narrow roads on the way there.
The trail does not have as many trees, but instead has a open area that gives a spacious feel to your hike as you make your ascent. In the winter time, there are plenty of wet mud and patches of snow so proceed with caution as you watch your footing on some of the rocky parts of the trail. And as you progress higher, there will be more snow on the ground as well as a colder breeze, so bring a jacket to help deal with the cold. In any other season, there wont be snow, but there will still be a bit of a cool breeze, as well as a bright sun beating against you, so sunblock is also advised on this trail.
The last stretch of the hike places you on a path of stairs and a lot of rocks. Upon reaching the top, you get to see not only the San Diego forestry and hills, but you can also see the valleys of Mexico to the south.
The highlight of the hike was definitely the presence of snow, which we did not expect to have, especially in Southern California. Otherwise, the hike is a good place for a not too challenging hike up and a great way to distance one’s self from the craziness that is SoCal traffic. And after the hike, help yourself to some apple pie from Julian Pie Company in Julian, CA, which is a half an hour away from the park. It is one of the best pie places out there and you will not regret indulging yourself to such a good post hike snack.