“A steady climb to the summit of Stonewall Peak with a return through alpine meadows.
— Russell Hobart
Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This trail features the most dramatic 360 degree view in San Diego County and nice tour through alpine fields.
Need to Know
It is $10 to park at this trailhead.
Most folks use this trail as a simple out-and-back to the summit of Stonewall Peak, but if you have a little extra time you can take a lovely loop.
From the parking lot, cross the street and begin heading uphill on the Stonewall Peak Trail
. The trail builds at a nice, even pace as you switchback your way up the mountain. The way is spotted with the skeletons of old pines and live oaks that have bleached in the sun. Currently, you'll mostly encounter scrub oak, manzanita, and other shrub-like plants. Occasionally, at the switchbacks the scenery opens up to some larger views to the south, north, and west. After a couple of miles, the trail flattens out, and you should stay right to reach the rail-protected summit.
After you enjoy the huge views, head back downhill keeping to the right. You soon pass a hitching post for folks coming up the other side on horses. The trail switchbacks its way down the hill and towards the rocky top of Little Stonewall Peak. The trail turns north when you get close to the peak and drops down into a drainage.
After a little over three miles, you enter a section of alpine fields with old pines and live oaks. A short while later you connect up with the Vern Whitaker Trail
, where you turn left. Continue through the open field for another half mile until you take another left to connect up with Cold Stream Trail
From here, you slowly build uphill, while cutting through open fields broken up by areas of thick foliage along intermittent streams and wetlands. After a mile along this trail, you come back to the starting point.