This is a loop that follows the West Mesa Fire Road
and West Mesa Trail
, exploring several features of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. Though you are hiking on a road for 60% of the loop, it doesn't feel that way because it is a narrow dirt road.
The loop begins at the base of Arrowmakers Ridge, where archaeologists discovered
thousands of late prehistoric projectile points. Airplane Monument
is at 1.7 miles, just west of the road at the information symbol, halfway into a gentle rise. The monument is a Liberty 12-cylinder aircraft engine mounted on stones, from a DH-4B biplane that crashed on December 7, 1922, killing both the pilot and his traveling companion.
About 0.1 miles beyond the monument, the trail reverses direction, ascending Airplane Ridge on the southwest edge of the loop, and offering good views of the park.
At 3.2 miles, the fire road peters out, though Burnt Pine Fire Rd continues northwest. Ignore this road and continue northeast along a singletrack and through often tall grasses. At 4.5 mile, pickup West Mesa Fire Road
again to complete the loop.
This hike is best done in spring or early summer when the vegetation is most verdant.
Stellar’s jays, scrub jays, acorn woodpeckers, black-headed grossbeak, and lazuli bunting.