Silvercrest Loop (Palomar Mountain State Park)

Just beyond the entrance to Palomar Mountain State Park lies the Silvercrest Picnic Area, a quaint spot to enjoy a picnic with the family or relax in some quiet solitude. It its also the start of the short but scenic Silvercrest Trail, traversing a ridge along the southern edge of Palomar. You can do this hike as is, or make a longer figure-8 by adding on the Boucher Hill Loop.

We found the trailhead along the southeastern edge of the parking lot.

The trail led east into the trees.

We found ourselves on the outer edge of the mountain with views into the valley below.

We had a short but steep climb which quickly warmed us up in the cool, early morning air.

After less than a quarter of a mile, the trail leveled out and we had a generally easy stroll. Much of this area had burned in the 2007 Poomacha fire, leaving a number of charred and leafless trees behind.

Just under .5 miles we came upon the grave of William “Big Willy” Pearson, an early settler who was killed when a tree fell on him.

After paying our respects to Big Willy, we continued on through a patch of towering ceanothus bushes.

We soon came to the end of the Silvercrest Trail where we met the main road. We crossed the street, and started down a paved road that would connect us to the Scott’s Cabin Trail (the sign says Authorized Vehicles Only but hikers are allowed – just not cars).

We were surrounded by tall cedar trees, which more than made up for having to travel a short distance on pavement.

Just shy of .7 miles we turned left onto the Scott’s Cabin Trail.

We passed by the park’s historical Apple Orchard.

We even spotted a few blossoms.

The trail made its way back into the more densely forested section of the park. We stayed alert, hoping to spot some deer out for a morning forage, but didn’t see any.

At 1.2 miles we came to a “T junction and turned left, following signs back to the Silvercrest Picnic Area.

We headed up a short hill, finding numerous Cedar saplings along the trail.

The trail dipped down again and crossed a small ravine before a final short climb.

We came to the road again. Crossing brought us back to the Silvercrest Picnic Area where we had begun.

Take I-15 north to the Via Rancho Parkway exit. Turn right onto E Via Rancho Parkway, continue as it turns into Bear Valley Parkway. Turn right onto E Valley Parkway, continue as it turns into Valley Center Road. Turn right onto CA-76 East. After approximately 6 miles, make a slight left onto S Grade Rd/Palomar Mountain Rd. Turn left onto S Grade Road, then turn left again onto State Park Road. Follow the road to the Park entrance where you will stop and pay your entry fee. Just beyond the park entrance, find the Silvercrest Picnic Area on your left and park in the large parking lot. map

Total Distance: 1.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Total Ascent: 275 feet
Dog Friendly?: Dogs not allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes not allowed
Facilities: Restrooms and water in parking lot
Fees/Permits: $10 day use fee per vehicle

For more information, visit:
California Department of Parks and Recreation – Palomar Mountain State Park
Friends of Palomar Mountain State Park
Trail Map
View route or download GPX from CalTopo

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