Hike a Portion of the Pacific Crest Trail

Rate this Adventure San Diego Nobel Canyon Trailhead

Added by Morgan Scott

  • Distance: 12 mile loop
  • Cover Noble Canyon - Indian Creek - Pine Mountain
  • See desert vistas and mile-high peaks
  • Great elevation gain and a good workout
  • Many photo opportinities

Noble Canyon Trail is used by hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders. The trail is mostly dirt with an occasional rock patch and low shrubs on both sides. The hillside is lightly covered with oak and pine trees. In the occasional break between the trees, views to the northeast reveal Garnett Peak.

Bear right at the Y-junction and head west on the northern part of the hillside. As you continue to climb past this point, views open across the north. Garnett Peak becomes prominent on the horizon. Cross Filaree Flat Road N and head west. Sparse pines, oaks, and lots of waist high shrubs cover the hillsides. Cross Laguna Meadow Road and head southwest. Bear right at the Y-junction and head northeast on Indian Creek Trail. After about a mile, cross Indian Creek and begin a steep climb up Pine Mountain. Turn right at the 4-way junction and merge onto Pine Mountain Trail. Heading north, you'll see San Diego's second highest mountain, Cuyamaca Peak, to the west.

Cross the jeep road that runs perpendicular to Pine Mountain Trail and head northeast you will then cross Sunrise Highway to enter Pioneer Mail Picnic Area. After refilling water bottles and eating lunch, bear right onto the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and head east. Continue straight through the 4-way junction, staying on the PCT.

Optional side trip: Turn left onto Garnet Peak Trail. Walk 1.2 miles, gaining 500 feet of elevation. Rest at the Garnet Peak summit (5,800 feet) and enjoy unmatched desert views of San Diego County.

Exit the PCT and retrace your steps back to the parking lot. Noble Canyon Trail is well-worn and defined from heavy hiking, biking, and horseback riding use. Looking northeast towards S1, you can see the remains and growth from a forest fire that burned the hillside 5 years ago. On the other side of S1, the dirt road that leads to Garnett Peak can be seen along the hillside. With the Garnett Peak ridge line in the background, you get a clearer view of the forest fire remains and the area's regrowth.

Pine Valley-Indian Creek Trail Junction and after you cross Indian Creek, head uphill toward Pine Mountain and keep climbing until you see the MTB single-track to Pine Mountain. The Pine Mountain Trail will then meet Sunrise Highway and you will see the Indian Creek Trail junction with Cuyamaca State Park and Sunrise Highway. Walk across Pine Mountain to the Pioneer Mail trailhead and the entrance to Cleveland National Forest. You will see the Garnett Peak Trail and Mile-high mountains border the PCT to the east.

Photos: Jerry Kurjian, Jerry Kurjian, L.K.

Pack List

  • Good hiking shoes
  • Trekking poles
  • Water
  • Snacks/ food
  • Hiking clothes
  • Sunblock
  • Hat/ sunglasses
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Fitness, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



12 Miles


Easy Parking
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Added by Morgan Scott

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