• Dale Hill

Cuyamaca Peak in the Snow

Updated: Mar 11

Date: January 4, 2021

Distance: 5.57 miles

Total Elapsed Time: 3h 14m

Total Moving Time: 2h 32m

Summit Elevation: 6,512 feet

Elevation Gain: 1,619 feet

Trailhead: Paso Picacho Campground, Lookout Road

Previous Ascents: March 8, 2020


Notes: This is the first of two peaks for the today 😉


Today's route is via Lookout Fire Road

My personal goal for this year's San Diego Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge is to complete all six hikes in six days, the individual hikes are all close enough to home, that I should be able to pull that off.


Logging Woodson Mountain on Friday and El Cajon Mountian on Saturday, I took a day off yesterday because I knew two truths: 1) There would be snow on Cuyamaca and 2) EVERYBODY and their brother would be flocking to the Cuyamacas to "play in the snow"


No problem, I planned a double-header for today to play catch-up and stay on track for my "Six-in-Six" goal. This would be my first hike then I'm headed to Volcan Benchmark for peak number two on the day.


Last year I approached this one on the Azalea Glen Loop Trail descending down the (then) muddy, mostly unpaved Lookout Road. Today, given that I had two peaks on tap (plus transition time) I opted for the quick route up the recently re-paved Lookout Road. For more than a year the San Diego Gas and Electric Company had been upgrading power circuits that ran through the Park and the road was torn up most of the time.

Since I completed the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge last year, it's fun to look around on my hikes and say 'did that one, and that one, oh and that one too' 😂 It's also good to see those that I haven't done and add them to my list of trips for this year!


Looking across to Middle Peak, you can see the massive effort to grind down all the low brush, I suspect one of the early stages of reforestation in the Park. I'll be headed back to Stonewall Peak soon as the Cuyamaca Azimuth Reference Mark is near the summit. The actual Azimuth Mark was likely lost/destroyed when they built the stone monument at the lookout point on the summit. See my post "NASA Control on Cuyamaca" for a deep dive into ALL the markers I found on today's trip.


Rabbit Peak is the second peak on a beast of a hike that many do as an overnight trip summitting Villager Peak on the WAY to Rabbit! Villager Peak is a solid challenge in its own right so adding Rabbit has the makings of an awesome adventure. I am looking forward to doing that one later this spring.


App Alert! I use the Peak Visor Pro App, to capture and tag the peaks with these nifty labels. I am in no way affiliated with the designers of the app, I just like what it does and I get a lot of questions like "how do you add those tags on your peaks?" 🤷🏻‍♂️


After a mile of clear and dry paved road, I decided to don my microspikes as I encountered more patches of snow and ice.


I have a pair of the Kahtoola Microspikes and loved these things after just a few steps because they really bite into the ice and hardpack snow. The other popular anti-slip traction option is the YakTrax, they don't have spikes, they use a steel coil instead, honestly, when I was deciding which ones to get, the Kahtoola's just looked beefier.


It didn't take long before the scenery changed and I felt like I was in the middle of a winter wonderland. The road was totally snow-covered and as I neared the top, it brought back memories of tromping around in the woods during winters in New England.


Like many of the peaks I finished early last year, I wasn't dialed into looking for Survey Markers, the obvious ones I found just fell into the category of "Oh, THAT'S cool", I didn't really know to look further for others. Consequently, as I revisit these peaks on this year's challenge, I am on a mission to locate the marks I didn't know about before.


As I mentioned above, I'll have a separate report highlighting all the marks I found on the Cuyamaca summit. Of course, my trail buddy Curious George 🙈🙉🙊usually makes an appearance at some point on my journey, today he is joined by a newly 'formed' friend ⛄️😂



Cuyamaca Peak was number three on my list of San Diego Six-Pack of Peak summits, the views from the top were amazing, it was fun to finally get to do a little bit of snow hiking (even if was only on a snow-covered road!) And I had a good morning locating survey marks I had missed before.


Relive 3D Video of the Route


Onward to Volcan Benchmark!

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