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Lookout Fire Road

Lookout Fire Road

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Lookout Fire Road

Page Type: Trail

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 32.95394°N / 116.59653°W

Trail Type: Mountain, Paved

Technical Difficulty: Easy

Aerobic Difficulty: Hard

Layout: Out & Back

Elevation Gain: 1700 ft / 518 m

Length: 3.0 Mi / 4.8 Km

Route Quality: 
 - 1 Votes


Page By: Cedar

Created/Edited: Nov 25, 2007 / Jan 24, 2009

Object ID: 264733

Hits: 4137 

Page Score: 74.01%  - 4 Votes 

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Lookout Fire Road is located in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park just 30 miles east of San Diego. Although paved, the route is noneless, strenuous. The road is closed to private vehicles but is open to bikers as well as hikers.

The route climbs from 4800' at the Paso Picacho Campground and up to the summit of Cuyamaca Peak in 3.0 miles. The climb typically takes 0.5-1 whole day.

Much of the peak has been charred by a massive fire which swept through the area in 2003 leaving most of the surrounding lands barren and tundra-like. Recovery is noticable, however, as many plants and trees are beginning to reclaim the land covering it in a bright green.

Also, a $6 day-use fee is charged at the Pico Picacho Campground at the start of the road. This fee is also good for Green Valley Campground further south on the same day.

Trail Description

Icy Going
The going on Lookout Fire Road can get a bit difficult in winter if there's hard ice.

Beginning in the Pico Picacho Campground, the road slowly begins climbing up and up through numerous burnt trees which dot the landscape. In 1.5 miles, it meets up with a trail from Azalea Spring to the north.

The road, now steeper, continues up to the summit of Cuyamaca where it is greeted by a fire lookout tower.

Getting There

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is located just north of I-8, south of CA-78 and is bisected by CA-79. To the north is Julian and to the west is San Diego.

From Julian

Julian is a small town located within the boundaries of Cleveland National Forest. Annually, it is endangered by Southern California's wildfires and was nearly burnt down in 2003; more recently, in October, 2007. The town is located at the junction of CA-78 and CA-79.

Begin south on CA-79. Continue for 14 miles around Lake Cuyamaca and into the state park. Turn off into Paso Picacho Campground on the right and pay $6 for a day-use fee. Park in the parking lot to the right and head out.

The fire road can be found just to the left (south) of the campground entrance. It begins just past a locked gate.

From San Diego

In the downtown area, take I-8 eastbound to Descanso and CA-79. Exit here and turn left on the highway. Follow on the highway (CA-79) and bear left with it in a few miles. Continue up the valley and into the park. Enter Paso Picacho Campground to the left and again, pay the day-use fee.

When to Bike

Biking can be done year-round. Winter usually comes with snow and ice which can make for a slippery ride. Summer is warmer but has a greater risk for afternoon thunderstorm. Spring, like winter may harbor some ice but most of it are gone early in the season. Autumn is fire season and the peak may be threatened by one or two of these ever so often.


Lookout Fire Road