Sycuan Peak


Like so many other trails in the county, Sycuan Peak had been on our “to-hike” list for some time. But every week it got shunted to the bottom of the list because it always seemed like such a long drive for so short a hike. But after countless sweltering hot days, we finally had a day where temperatures were forecast to be reasonable. We decided if we kept the hike short and went early enough, we could bring one of our monsters along, so the ever amazing Apollo joined us.20150905_DSC5747Sycuan

So Sycuan Peak it was. We managed to find the rather obscure trail head without too much difficulty, and squeezed our small car into the narrow dirt turnout along the road. There’s not a whole lot of space for parking and larger vehicles may have some issues getting all the way off the pavement, so plan accordingly if you decide to do this one. We ducked under the chain draped between two metal posts where signs marking the Preserve’s boundary and proclaiming the area off-limits to motorized vehicles hung. 20150906DSC_3170Sycuan

At one point in the past the trail had been a dirt road winding its way up the mountain to where an airplane beacon once stood on the peak. Now, however, it was a beautiful testament to the powers of erosion.20150905_DSC5721-EditSycuan

The route was easy enough to follow as there were no junctions or turns to worry about. As we wound our way up the rocky trail, it wasn’t long before we started getting some beautiful views of our surroundings.20150905_DSC5723-EditSycuan

The clouds were being especially dramatic too.20150905_DSC5726-EditSycuan

When not distracted by the fabulous views we were gaining, we noticed some grasshoppers sharing the trail with us.20150906DSC_3186-EditSycuan

The road was in increasingly poor condition as we ascended, requiring some attention and the occasional hop from one side of an eroded chasm to the other. It was steep and rocky, and definitely in less better shape than many trails we’d done, but overall wasn’t exceptionally difficult.20150905_DSC5740-EditSycuan

The hillside around us was covered in dense chaparral. Sycuan Peak, like nearby McGinty Mountain, is home to the rare plant Dehesa beargrass. It grows in clumps of thin, green, ribbon-like leaves and looks somewhat similar to mojave yucca.20150905_DSC5746-EditSycuan

To the south we could see the wide crest of Lyon’s Peak.20150905_DSC5745-EditSycuan

To the west was San Miguel Mountain.20150905_DSC5750-EditSycuan

To the east was Lawson Valley, and Cuyamaca Peak far in the distance.20150905_DSC5753-EditSycuan

As beautiful as the views were, we weren’t even at the top yet. So we continued up the red, rocky road.20150905_DSC5758-EditSycuan

Soon, we crested a rise and found a wide open area just below the peak. We made our way around the south flank, heading towards the old power pole.20150906DSC_3214-EditSycuan

Upon reaching the pole, we had to squeeze through some overgrown brush and scramble over a few boulders to reach the official summit. We found a benchmark in one of the rocks, but no peak register.20150906DSC_3215-EditSycuan

We lounged upon the boulders for a few minutes, eating our snacks, watering the dog, and enjoying the views.20150905_DSC5780-EditSycuan

Despite the mild forecast however, the day was starting to get considerably warmer than we had anticipated. We decided it was best to return Apollo to the air-conditioned comfort of the car before the day’s heat set in, and headed back down the mountain.

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Take 94 East until it turns into Campo Road. Turn right onto CA-94 E/Campo Road (You’ll see TGI Friday’s across the street). Continue along Campo Road for approximately 4.5 miles, turn left onto Lyons Valley Road. After approximately 1.6 miles, Lyons Valley Road turns into Skyline Truck Trail. Continue on Skyline Truck Trail for approximately 2.2 miles, and turn left onto Lawson Valley Road. Proceed on Lawson Valley Road for another 2.2 miles. The trail head is at a narrow dirt turn out on the left side of the road, just past mile marker 2.5. Make sure you park all the way off the road, larger vehicles may have some issues here, so plan accordingly. map

Total Distance: 2.15 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Total Ascent: 743 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: No
Facilities: None
Fees/Permits: None

For more information, visit:
CA Department of Fish & Wildlife – Sycuan Peak Ecological Reserve
View route on google maps

2 thoughts on “Sycuan Peak

  1. I hesitated crossing the chain that said “closed area.” Are you sure hikers are allowed?