Descanso, California

The best Trails and Outdoor Activities in Descanso, California, offer a variety of scenic landscapes and top outdoor adventures. One must-visit is the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. This park provides a network of hiking trails with diverse natural features, from the lush Green Valley Falls to the sweeping views atop Stonewall Peak. The trails range from easy to challenging, catering to both beginners and seasoned hikers. On your hike, you might spot native wildlife or unique rock formations. For a more leisurely outdoor activity, visit Lake Cuyamaca for fishing or bird-watching. Nearby, the Pacific Crest Trail offers long-distance hiking through varied landscapes. Truly, Descanso offers some of the best outdoor attractions in California.

Top Spots in and near Descanso

  • Jamul, California

    Hike Mt. McGinty

    4.8 mi / 1263 ft gain
    Balancing a good workout, gorgeous views, and minimal time commitment, these 4.8-mile steep trail is definitely a San Diego point of interest, and despite its proximity to the city of San Diego, it remains a low trafficked hike. The Hike: Right away the trail weaves you through beautiful vegetati...
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  • Jamul, California

    Hike the Hollenbeck Canyon Trail

    4.6 mi / 626 ft gain
    The trail is wide and well maintained. The first mile of the trail is well shaded by oak trees. You'll see stunning rocky peaks and rolling green hills as the trail continues. There are three creek crossings to be aware of. Cleveland National Forest is dog friendly, but bring a leash! Hunting is ...
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  • Julian, California

    Volcan Mountain Trail

    4.82 mi / 1270 ft gain
    Volcan Mountain Trail located near Julian, California is a moderate day hike. This well-maintained trail offers beautiful views, but keep in mind there isn't too much sun protection, so be sure to pack plenty of water and coverage on sunnier days.  Dogs are permitted on the trail on a leash. 
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  • Julian, California

    Blair Valley Trail

    11.4 mi / 873 ft gain
    Blair Valley Trail is a loop trail where you may see wildflowers located near Julian, California.
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  • Santa Ysabel, California

    Hiking in Santa Ysabel

    3.0
    Starting at the trailhead on Hwy 79, enter through the gate and make sure to close it behind you - the preserve is open range area for herds of cows, make sure not to disturb them when hiking. From the gate you'll see the sign with a detailed map of trails that are available for hiking. The trail...
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  • Julian, California

    Agua Caliente Hot Spring

    5.0
    1.53 mi / 164 ft gain
    Agua Caliente Hot Spring is an out-and-back trail that takes you by a hot springs located near Julian, California.
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  • Jamul, California

    Hiking Otay Mountain

    5.0
    15.3 mi / 2903 ft gain
    The trek begins on the Otay Mountain Truck Trail at Pio Pico Resort & Campground. You can either park and hike the entire trail, or drive up to a point a couple miles and park before the road becomes steep and rough. The distance on here is if you hiked the whole way. If you have a 4-wheel dr...
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  • Campo, California

    Photograph the Mexican Border on the PCT Southern Terminus

    4.5
    From San Diego head East on Hwy 8 for roughly 60 miles to Buckman Springs Road (Exit 51). Take a right on Buckman Springs road an drive South for 10 miles. Turn right on CA-94 W (Campo Rd) and drive for 1.5 miles. After crossing the railroad tracks turn left on Forrest Gate Road. Take this road f...
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  • Ramona, California

    Explore the Sutherland Dam

    2.0
    1 mi
    Once your on Sutherland Dam Rd, follow it until your right next to the dam. Park on the side of the road where you see a small turn-out. Walk down to the side of the dam and drop down onto the concrete flooring of the dam. Walk on-top where allowed, and check out the views of the lake and the mo...
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  • Poway, California

    Hike around Goodan Ranch

    5.0
    3 mi
    Starting at the Sycamore Canyon Trail head, you will see the sign and gate that leads to Goodan Ranch. Head down the gravel road for 1.1 miles, until you reach a 3-way directional split. Heading straight for another .5 miles will take you directly to the ruins of the old Goodan house. Here you wi...
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  • Ramona, California

    Iron Mountain Peak Trail

    4.1
    5.67 mi / 1030 ft gain
    Iron Mountain is the longest wilderness trail in Poway, CA. The parking lot is free and provides bathroom and water fountain amenities. The distance from the parking area to the summit is approximately 3.2 miles. Beginning with a wide smooth trail, slowly transitioning into semi-technical incline...
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  • Ramona, California

    Mount Woodson's East Approach

    3.0
    3.96 mi / 1385 ft gain
    Mount Woodson is a well-known hiking trail in San Diego County. It is known for its breathtaking views and the famous potato chip rock. The Trail on the east side of the Mountain is fairly steep but is about half the distance of the trail on the west side of the mountain. To get to the trail on ...
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  • San Diego County, California

    Hike to Mountain Palm Springs, Anza Borrego SP

    3 mi / 350 ft gain
    At first glance the Anza-Borrego desert appears lifeless, a wasteland of rocky plain peaks rising up from Carrizo Plains covered in Cholla cactus and Ocotillo. But one of the surprises is a mirage of California fan palm groves hidden in a series of canyons.The Mountain Palm Springs oasis loop is ...
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  • Santee, California

    Crystal Cave

    4.0
    0.46 mi / 59 ft gain
    Starting at 8100 Mesa road, you will see parking along the side of the road in a few places, take advantage where you find it.  Pass over the trail gate that marks the start of the journey. This will be a quick trip, as the total distance is less than a mile out and back. Head a quarter mile or ...
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  • Santee, California

    Cowles Mountain via Big Rock Trail

    4.0
    4.86 mi / 1207 ft gain
    Starting somewhat near sea-level, Cowles Mountain via the Big Rock Trail climbs about 1000 ft in elevation.  This trail is about 5 miles total, out and back.  Arrive at Big Rock park which has good parking.  At the park you will walk to the left of the tennis courts past the limits (the fence) of...
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  • Santee, California

    Cowles Mountain via Big Rock Road

    4.5
    4.32 mi / 1109 ft gain
    Start by plugging 8125 Arlette St, Santee, CA into your GPS. This takes you to Big Rock Park, a convenient parking spot for the Cowles Hike. From here you want to walk through the park, and around the right side of the tennis court. This will take you to the fenced entrance to the hike. Head sout...
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