With lush pine and fir trees, streams, and actual season presence, you will forget that you are in San Diego county and be transported to what feels like somewhere in the Sierra Nevada.

When it comes to Palomar Mountain State Park, most people stick to Doane Lake and Upper Doane Valley. Yet on the far right of the parking lot at Doane Pond, there is actually a trailhead that will guide you to a completely different section of the park. The Lower Doane Valley trail is, in my option, more stunning and is dotted with massive pines.

The entire trail is a short 3.8 mile jaunt with minimum elevation gain. Last time I packed a light snack and a blanket to just sit in the Valley for a while. Perfect for a lazy Sunday stroll to get some fresh air.

The first part of the hike crosses over the main street from where you came. Once you cross, you will parallel the Doane Creek until you come to the junction of the Weir Trail less than a mile in. Take this left and follow the creek until you emerge in the Valley. Continue to reach French Valley and then circle back around.

Keep in mind that Palomar Mountain is ever-changing. If you come on a cold spring or fall morning, chances are you will be engulfed in a heavy fog. In winter, snow. And in summer will usually look like the photos featured here- sunny, clear and a nice 75.

Pack List

  • Permit
  • Backpack
  • Blanket for a picnic
  • Snack
  • A cold brew

Note: there is a general store and delicious vegetarian restaurant at the top of the mountain but NO gas station.

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RT Distance 3.8 Miles
Elevation Gain 450 Feet
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Forest
Picnic Area
River
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Epic hike Near North County San Diego

This hike was fantastic! Super mellow. Starts out through dense forest you'll forget your an hour away from the ocean, and then opens up into a beautiful valley. Definitely worth the trip 👍🏽. I'll be back up this way to check out other trails and to camp as well. Day use fee is $8, and worth every penny. It's like a mini Yosemite!!


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