San Diego County, California

Hike Garnet Peak Trail

2.6 Miles Total - 500 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Jenna Ferrieri

Though it’s a short hike to the summit, Garnet Peak in the Laguna Mountains rewards you with stunning mountain and desert views with relatively minimal effort – the trail to the top is 2.6 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 500 feet.BONUS: If you’re a morning person, try to get to the peak before sunrise to watch the amazing colors light up the sky over the desert!

While there are a few trail options, the designated Garnet Peak Trail begins off of Sunrise Highway at Mile Marker 27.8. There is a small pull-off on the east side of the road with a sign denoting the trail. An Adventure Pass is required for parking in this area of Cleveland National Forest.

The first portion of the trail takes you northeast along a dry wash bed through the burn zone of a Jeffery pine forest. The trail remains relatively flat for the first 0.6 miles until you intersect the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). From that point on, the remaining 0.7 miles to the top are uphill, circling around the north side of the peak to the summit, where you can take a breather among the rock outcrops to admire the gorgeous views. It won’t take long for you to admire the level of exposure as the east side of the mountain abruptly drops nearly 6000 feet to the desert floor. On a clear day, you can spot the Salton Sea to the east, Laguna Salada to the south, and the larger San Gabriel Mountains to the north.

If you are looking to extend your mileage, try starting the hike from Penny Pines trailhead (mile marker 27.3) to the south or the Pioneer Mail Picnic Area to the north (mile marker 29.3). These trailheads will give you access to the PCT which will intersect the Garnet Peak Trail to get you up to the summit.

The Garnet Peak Trail is part of Cleveland National Forest and is dog-friendly. Despite being a short hike, be sure to bring plenty of water, especially during the summer, as this trail doesn’t offer and shade.

Read More

Tags

Fitness
Chillin
Photography
Running
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Romantic
Scenic

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Great short hike that takes you straight up to views that looks down on the desert to the east and Salton sea. Looking west you see the the green of Mt Leguna area. Wind can be pretty extreme up at the top and the drop offs to the desert below can make you dizzy. Hike is exposed the whole way but crosses the PCT part way up.

Classic Mountain Peak

When it's really windy, like, sticking-your-head-out-a-sunroof-on-a-freeway windy, the level of adventure on this hike goes way, way up. This hike gives you a nice taste of San Diego's backcountry, and puts you on a mountain peak that really feels like a peak: birds of prey overhead, sheer rock drops, and giant views. It's also fun to stand on the PCT, close your eyes, and think about that thin little trail winding all the way to Canada. Maybe someday I'll go all the way...

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Stay Nearby

Laguna Meadow Road

El Prado Group

Overview El Prado Group Campground is a great mountain getaway just one hour east of San Diego, California in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. Campers can enjoy cooler temperatures, unique natu...

Mount Laguna, California

Laguna

Overview Laguna Campground is a great mountain getaway just one hour east of San Diego, California in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. Campers can enjoy cooler temperatures, unique natural area...

Mount Laguna, California

Horse Heaven Group

Overview Contrary to its name, Horse Heaven Group Campground has no equestrian sites. Instead, this tent-only facility can accommodate gatherings of up to 100 people. It provides a great mountain g...

Mount Laguna, California

Burnt Rancheria

Overview Burnt Rancheria Campground is located 50 miles east of San Diego at the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area in Southern California, right off the Sunrise Scenic Byway.Campers can enjoy hiking,...

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike the Garnet Peak-Champagne Pass Loop

    Hiking the Garnet Peak to Champagne Pass Loop can be done as a day hike or an overnight backpacking trip. You will hike on the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail), climb to the top of Garnet Peak and relish in the views of the Anza Borrego Desert. There are...

    10.5 miles 900 ft gain

  • Night Shoot at Mt. Laguna USAF Station

    This is a great stop when passing through the Anza Borrego Desert. The drive is very scenic, and passes through Sunrise Highway. Once you turn off the road, it's a very short drive up the hill where you will find a large spot to leave your car. Th...

  • Hike a Portion of the Pacific Crest Trail

    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...

    12 miles

  • Hike Cuyamaca Peak

    This peak is one of the tallest in the county. Reaching the summit of the peak takes you to an elevation of 6500'. Although this peak isn't as challenging as others nearby, it's located in the center of San Diego, which offers up amazing views, wh...

    5.5 miles 1700 ft gain