Kwaaymii Point is a popular hang-gliding and star gazing spot just off of the Sunrise Highway in the Laguna Mountains. While its possible to just drive to Kwaaymii Point, a much more enjoyable adventure can be had by hiking a short stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from the Pioneer Mail Picnic Area. Here, the PCT follows an old stretch of the Sunrise Highway that used to traverse the edge of the mountains before being re-routed to its less exciting present course. This stretch of trail offers breath taking views of Cottonwood Canyon and the Anza-Borrego Desert beyond.
After parking at the Pioneer Mail Picnic Area, we found the trail at the north end of the parking lot just beyond the large wooden information board.
The pavement was long since removed from the old roadbed, so we had a wide, dirt path lined with green chaparral before us.
It didn’t take long for the views to begin to open up around us. To our right was a steep slope leading down into Cottonwood Canyon. In the distance, Anza-Borrego Desert stretched out before us.
On our left was a tall rock wall where the mountain had been cut away to make way for the old Highway, and remnants of old rock slides littered the former road.
Rounding a bend, we found an outer retaining wall, still intact.
There were more outstanding views here as well.
We came upon a large rocky outcropping adorned with numerous memorial plaques.
Just beyond the memorial rock, we saw the paved turnout where the less adventurous folk could park.
It was such a beautiful day out we decided to continue a little bit further. We picked up the trail again on the far side of the turnout, aiming for the modest promontory on the right.
We turned right along a use trail that split off from the PCT.
At the top we found a rocky outcropping where we could kick back and enjoy the outstanding views.
After admiring the views, we returned the way we had come.
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Take I-8 East to the Sunrise Highway. Head north on Sunrise Highway to the Pioneer Mail Picnic Area, just past mile marker 29 – it will be on the right. Park at the picnic area and remember to post your Adventure Pass. map
||Leashed dogs allowed
||No bikes allowed
||Less than stellar vault toilet at picnic area; horse watering station at start of trail – requires treatment
||Adventure Pass required
For more information, visit:
Forest Service – Cleveland National Forest
View route or download GPX in CalTopo