Located in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, about an hour east of San Diego, Oakzanita Peak Trail is a 5.9-mile out-and-back hike that attracts fewer visitors but is no less enjoyable. The trail is a moderate hike that’s perfect for those seeking solitude and stunning views.
|Elevation Gain/Loss||1,174 feet, -1,174 feet|
|Trailhead Coordinates||32.889656, -116.575898|
|Location||Cuyamaca Rancho State Park|
Getting to Oakzanita Peak Trail
The trailhead is about 45 miles from San Diego. Take I-8 east and soon after passing through Alpine take exit 40 to 79 north. The trailhead is another six miles with the parking lot on the right side. The town of Julian is about 15 miles north of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.
The name of the trail is derived from the Oak and Manzanita trees along the trail and leads to the 5,506-foot rocky summit where you’ll be treated with panoramic views of mountains and valleys in all directions.
On a clear day, you’ll see Cuyamaca and Stonewall Peaks to the north and Mount Laguna to the south.
The trailhead is located in Descanso at the southern end of the park. It is open year-round from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m daily and dogs are not allowed on the trail.
The trail begins through meadows and dry brush leading to a series of switchbacks as it narrows toward the summit.
The trailhead begins heading east on the Lower Descanso Creek Trail before merging onto the East Mesa Fire Road.
From here continue until you see the Upper Descanso Creek Trail on the right, which leads to the summit.
Where to camp
There are two campgrounds in the park. The nearest campground is Green Valley Campground about a mile north on Highway 79. The Green Valley Campground, about a mile north of the trailhead, has 81 sites and is open April through November. Further north is the Paso Picacho Campground with 85 sites and is open year-round.
The campgrounds have flush toilets and paid showers. The campsites at each of the campgrounds have a picnic table and fire ring. There are no hookups available. Dogs are allowed at the campgrounds but prohibited on the trails.
Reservations can be made at www.reservecalifornia.com or by calling (800) 444-7275.
The park also includes the Los Vaqueros Group Horse Camp. The campground accommodates 80 people, 45 horses, and 50 vehicles.
Things to Do
The 26,000-acre park has more than 100 miles of trails ideal for hikers, bikers, campers, and equestrians.
Lake Cuyamaca is located in the north of the park and offers boating and fishing. The park also includes Cuyamaca Peak, Stonewall Peak, Little Stonewall Peak, and Middle Peak.