Kwaaymii Trail


The Kwaaymii Trail is a very short interpretive loop right next to the Mount Laguna Visitor’s Center. While I don’t recommend driving all the way out there just for this one short hike, it’s a really nice little trail to check out next time you’re in the area. After many trips to Mount Laguna where we had seen this trailhead when we stopped to use the restroom, we decided it was finally time to hike it. We made a day of exploring some of the shorter trails in the area like the Wooded Hill Trail, the Desert View Nature Trail (write-up coming soon), and the Kwaaymii Trail. This trail would also be a good choice if you happen to be camping in the area with small kids or non-hikers who want to get out and explore a little, but aren’t prepared for a longer trail.

The trailhead is located at the northwest edge of the Visitor’s Center parking lot. A wooden box holding trail guides was attached to the sign post. To the right of the sign was the other end of the loop where we’d be returning.kwaaymii_trail_dsc_0787-edit

We set down the trail on the left. A few steps down the trail we found an old stone trail marker and surmised that the trail name must have been changed somewhere along the line to the more descriptive “Kwaaymii Trail.” The Kwaaymii were a subset of the Kumeyaay that once inhabited the area, and many of the interpretive exhibits on this trail reveal native plants that were used for food, medicine, and other needs by the Kwaaymii.kwaaymii_trail_dsc_0789-edit

The trail passed near some cabins before beginning to climb the small hill known as Pinyon Point. Tall pine trees and Black Oaks, turning lovely shades of yellow and gold, surrounded us.kwaaymii_trail_dsc_0791-edit

As we began to climb the hill, I was a little surprised by the steepness of the trail. It wasn’t actually bad as far as ascents go, but it was more than I expected from a modest half mile nature trail.kwaaymii_trail_dsc_0796-edit

It didn’t take long before the Visitor’s Center and cabins disappeared behind us and we had the quiet trail all to ourselves.kwaaymii_trail_dsc_0798-edit

We quickly reached the top of Pinyon Point and took a few minutes to explore and take pictures. There was an impressive dead tree which made a wonderful photo subject.kwaaymii_trail_dsc_0799-edit

To the side of the dead tree, we found some deep morteros (grinding holes) ground into the colorful granite.2016kwaaymii-traildsc_0127

We also had a nice view of the Laguna Observatory in the northeast.2016kwaaymii-traildsc_0123

After enjoying the hilltop for a little bit, we continued on the trail as it began to descend the eastern slope.kwaaymii_trail_dsc_0811-edit

We once again found ourselves surrounded by pines, oaks, and manzanita.kwaaymii_trail_dsc_0815-edit

A few more minutes of hiking brought us to the bottom of the hill, where we could see the Sunrise Highway through the trees.kwaaymii_trail_dsc_0818-edit

The trail led us past some more cabins, and we soon saw the parking lot at the end of the trail.kwaaymii_trail_dsc_0822

View the full photo gallery

From I-8 east take the Sunrise Highway exit and turn left onto Sunrise Highway (S1). Follow Sunrise Highway for approximately 9.9 miles to the Visitor’s Center on your left at Los Huecos Road. Park in the parking lot next to the Visitor’s Center. map

Total Distance: .45 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Total Ascent: 120 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes not allowed
Facilities: Restrooms and water at trailhead
Fees/Permits: Adventure Pass Required

For more information, visit:
Laguna Mountain Recreation Area Map
View route or download GPX from CalTopo

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