Eagle Peak has been touted by many San Diego hikers as having some of the best views in the county. Rising just west of the Cuyamaca Mountains, Eagle Peak towers high above the surrounding Cedar Creek, Boulder Creek, and San Diego River Gorges, and does indeed offer some stunning views. However, this hike is somewhat overshadowed by the more popular Three Sisters Falls hike, which shares a common trailhead, so the chances are good that you can have this fantastic peak all to yourself.
The day of our hike, the trailhead was pretty crowded for such a remote location. There was room for a handful of cars in the dirt turnout near the gate, but that area was full and we ended up parking on the side for the road (along with many others). As we expected, it appeared that most everyone was there to hike down to Three Sisters, probably hoping that the small amount of rain we’d had the day before would mean the falls were flowing. We were pretty sure it was going to take more than the previous day’s drizzle to awaken the waterfall so were heading out to Eagle Peak instead. The cloudy skies threatened more precipitation, but after checking the forecast we were fairly confident that the rain wouldn’t start until much later in the day.
At the parking area, there were two gated-off dirt roads. Our route was the road heading west with a number of warning signs posted. Three Sisters, like neighboring Cedar Creek Falls, is the location of frequent rescues in the hot summer months when poorly prepared hikers find themselves unable to make the steep climb back from the falls with inadequate water and soaring temperatures.
We had no such worries on this cool and cloudy morning. In fact, we were much more concerned with the possibility of the rain hitting early, as the clouds were looking pretty dark and ominous. We had our rain gear in our packs though, and decided to persevere.
We set off along the old dirt road surrounded by seemingly endless fields of chamise and other chaparral plants. Around .3 mile we came to the top of a small rise adorned with a handful of Engelmann oaks. This idyllic scene would be a perfect spot to sit down and rest while enjoying the views of the surrounding valleys, but as we’d barely been hiking for 5 minutes we contented ourselves with pausing for a few pictures before continuing on.
We continued our descent to a small saddle around .65 miles, where the trail for Three Sisters branched off to the left. The only trail marker here was a wooden post with “<- 3 Sisters” (and various other graffiti) emblazoned in black Sharpie.
The trail had contracted to a narrow single track, slightly overgrown in patches. I was glad I’d worn long pants and it didn’t appear to be tick season as buckwheat and other branches brushed against my legs. We followed the trail as it ran along the left side of the oak-topped hill before us.
So we continued up the rocky slopes. And up, and up. It wasn’t especially difficult but it definitely got our hearts pumping, and each time we thought we must be close, we found there was still more to go.
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From I-8 East, take the CA-79 exit. Follow 79 North for approximately 1.3 miles, then turn left onto Riverside Drive. At .9 miles Riverside Drive turns into Viejas Blvd and you will see a market/gas station on the left. Turn left here onto Viejas Grade Rd, then make an immediate right onto Oak Grove Dr. Follow Oak Grove Dr for 1.6 miles and turn right onto Boulder Creek Rd. Continue on Boulder Creek Road for 13 miles until you reach a hairpin turn where you will find the small dirt parking area and trail head on the left. map
A note on road conditions: Boulder Creek Road is a beautiful and exciting mountain road. It is only paved for the first five miles or so, but the dirt portion is in very good condition. While the ride is a bit bumpy, you’ll be fine in a passenger car – just drive carefully.
|Total Distance:||4.4 miles|
|Total Ascent:||1142 feet|
|Dog Friendly?:||Leashed dogs allowed|
|Bike Friendly?:||Bikes allowed|
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View route or download GPX in CalTopo