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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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|
|Total Ascent:||743 feet|
|Dog Friendly?:||Leashed dogs allowed|