Cuyamaca Peak is one of the higher peaks in San Diego County and has an elevation of 6,493 feet. The most common trail is from the Paso Picacho Campground. The view from the top is one of the best in San Diego County. This trailhead is about 50 miles from San Diego and is a reasonable drive for a day hike. If you are not camping there will be a small day parking fee.
The trail is up a paved fire road and is about 2.4 miles to the top with an elevation gain of about 1,600 feet. Parts of the road are fairly steep but the views are quite nice anywhere you stop to rest. Deer Spring is right off the road about two thirds the way up and has water flowing through end of summer. In the distance one can see Stonewall Peak and further away to the north, San Jacinto Peak and the San Gorgonio mountain ranges.
In 2003, the fires burned the area and so much of the road is fairly exposed and warm on a sunny day. Towards the tops the tall trees escaped the fire so the hike is through the shaded trees. The rest of the road up will take several decades to become shade covered like I remember as a young guy.
I have been hiking this off and on since I was a kid. I have hiked many times with friends, family and solo. It is usually nice to hike anytime of the year. If one hikes in the early spring, one might find snow on top.
The most recent hike was April 2011 and we hiked with some friends we camped with at the campground. This was Hannah and Nathan's first time up this peak and they did great. Our friends, Jon and Nick hiked with us and this was Nick's first time. Everyone did great and enjoyed chewing on some snow at the top.