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Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Descanso

4.6
#271 of 610 in Nature in California
State Park · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
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Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is a state park in California, United States, located 40 miles (64 km) east of San Diego in the Cuyamaca and Laguna Mountains of the Peninsular Ranges. The park's 26,000 acres (11,000 ha) feature pine, fir, and oak forests, with meadows and streams that exist due to the relatively high elevation of the area compared to its surroundings. The park includes 6,512-foot (1,985 m) Cuyamaca Peak, the second-highest point in San Diego County.

Park amenities include trails for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, as well as campgrounds for family, group, equestrian, and primitive trail camping; as well as an exhibit at a former gold mine, the Stonewall Mine.

Wildlife in the area includes mountain lions, which have been known to attack humans, and park literature emphasizes avoiding encounters with them. Numerous other species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians are known to reside within the park.

The park was closed for several months due to massive damage incurred in the 2003 Cedar Fire. Although much of the forest was burned, the park has since been reopened and the fire ecology regenerating native plants are re-growing and returning.
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Cuyamaca Rancho State Park reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
67 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • Nice fishing lake w small campground, seasonal streams and waterfalls, great hiking trails, especially in springtime. Close to Julian, CA-old gold mining town just north - good place for a lunch and.....  more
    Nice fishing lake w small campground, seasonal streams and waterfalls, great hiking trails, especially in springtime. Close to Julian, CA-old gold mining town just north - good place for a lunch and.....  more »
  • It's very good for San Diego. If you are used to Northern CA, Colorado, etc..., you might be a bit disappointed. It's all about the location's environment. Southern CA's environment isn't suited... 
    It's very good for San Diego. If you are used to Northern CA, Colorado, etc..., you might be a bit disappointed. It's all about the location's environment. Southern CA's environment isn't suited...  more »
Google
  • Great place if you are camping specifically to fish as you can camp right on the lake!! If you are looking for quiet and seclusion, this may not be the place. Sites are a bit small and really pushed together but if you are taking multiple sites as a family this is a big plus. Close to Julian and hiking trails and boat launches. Super clean bathrooms with hit water and showers too. Friendly check in.
  • This is one of our favorite places to ride a mountain bike in San Diego County. We actually used to be members of their Mountain Bike Assistance Unit for many years in the 1990s. At the time, we hoped that our avid volunteerism would help promote the building and opening of more singletrack trails for mountain bikers. Then, they opened up the Cold Stream Trail, which is one of my all-time favorite trails to ride on. The beauty and potential to see all kinds of wildlife is outstanding. The rocks and trees seem to have their own personalities. People you encounter on the trail are friendly. We all love to be in the arms of Nature.

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