Hiking, backpacking, and camping throughout Southern California and beyond

Stonewall Peak - Peak #25 - A Milestone in the Snow

Elevation: 5,730′Miles: 4.0 Trailhead

I was excited to be on my way to Stonewall Peak, since I was completing my 25th peak, a milestone in my quest for 100 peaks. I was also excited since it lies within Rancho Cuyamaca State Park. The last time I was here to climb Middle Peak, I saw a lot of wildlife in my short visit. Although I was hopeful to see more animals on this trip, I wasn't too optimistic, since I had late start.

However, on this trip, I had a couple of deer cross the road in front of my Tiguan. One got spooked and went back the way it came. I found a place to turn off the road and I quickly got out to take a few pictures. I was excited, since they were only about 10 feet away from me, but I couldn't get my camera out and on in time to get any close pictures. Instead, I had to zoom up the hill to capture them after they made it out of the brush on the upper side of the road. It was still a great experience to be so near to such beautiful creatures.

Deer in Cuyamaca

I then made it to the trailhead, ready for cold weather and snow hiking, since a furious storm dumped a lot of precipitation two days ago. In the parking lot, it felt warmer than the 38F that it was. The sun was shining and there was little wind. A perfect day for hiking.

From my car, I could see Stonewall Peak in its glory, as well as some of the smaller local wildlife. A mother woodpecker sat on a limb, watching its young scamper on the bark of a nearby tree and a squirrel warmed itself on top of a stump.

Stonewall Peak from Paso Picacho

The mother woodpecker

Squirrel at Paso Picacho Campground

I headed up the trail and instantly started wondering if I was wearing too much. Even though I only had on three thin layers, I was beginning to warm up. A small breeze started blowing and some of this trail is in shade, so I ended up being pretty comfortable.

Once I got to the northern side of the mountain, the trail became covered with snow and ice, and the trees were covered with hoar frost and crackled all around me at the frost melted at the sun's touch. I wondered whether or not I should have worn a helmet, but nothing fell on me. The trail crunched under my feet as I crushed the snow and chunks of ice. I saw deer and rodent tracks following the trail.

Critter tracks in the snow on the Stonewall Peak Trail

Snow on the Stonewall Peak Trail

Ice on the trees on the Stonewall Peak Trail

I made it up the stairs that are carved into the granite to the summit itself, which is a slab of rock, surrounded by a metal railing for obvious reasons. In the middle there is a stone pedestal with a drinking fountain embedded it in. I wondered what the story of this was, since it seemed ridiculous to have a fountain here, since I did not see any pipes going to the peak and the trail isn't long enough to warrant having water at the top. I enjoyed the view, the perfect post-storm weather and chatted with a man name Bob on the way day.

Bob knows Cuyamaca like the back of his hand and told me about his favorite trails and about some of the history of the area. Bob, if you are reading this, please contact me or leave a comment so I can pick your brain about Cuyamaca, which is rapidly becoming one of my favorite places in San Diego.

I was considering summiting Little Stonewall Peak, but chatting with Bob was much more enjoyable than hiking the extra miles. In the interest of daylight, I headed back down the way I had come.

Stairway to Stonewall

Snow on Cuyamaca Peak from Stonewall Peak

The drinking fountain on Stonewall Peak

Whale Peak in the distance


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