Stonewall Peak San Diego Overview
Stonewall Peak in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, is a fantastic hike in San Diego California. I have wanted to try this hike ever since I saw it while hiking Cuyamaca Peak which is just on the other side of the road. Stonewall Peak can be viewed right from the road and its unique because the peak is almost all stone and thus looks like a high stonewall.
Stonewall Peak can either be hiked as an out and back, or a loop. We decided to hike the full 5.14 mile loop, which can be hiked in either direction. If you want to hike Stonewall Peak as an out and back and not the loop, it's a little bit shorter at around 4 miles round trip, two miles up and two miles down.
Stonewall Peak shares the same parking lot as Cuyamaca Peak, which cost $10 and can be found here on Google Maps.
ℹ️ Stonewall Peak Name History
I wrongly assumed that Stonewall Peak got its name from the top looking like a stonewall. Here are some fun facts I read in the San Diego Tribune:
- Stonewall Peak was named after the Stonewall mine which was between Stonewall Peak and Cuyamaca Lake
- Stonewall Mine used to be named Stonewall Jackson Mine but had its name abbreviated to Stonewall Mine
- Stonewall Mine was the richest gold mine in San Diego County producing over $1 million in gold
Stonewall Peak Map
The map above can be viewed and downloaded on Caltopo here.
Stonewall Peak Trail Guide
Once we parked and got our backpacks together we headed off to the Stonewall Peak trail head. On the way to the trailhead we had one big decision to make while we crossed the road, which direction we wanted to hike the loop.
If you hike the loop counterclockwise, it's a shorter distance to the peak, but it is also a steeper trail. If you take the clockwise route, it's a bit less steep and not as many switchbacks as you head up to the peak.
We chose to take the steeper counterclockwise route and then take it easy coming down the gradual north side of Stonewall Peak.
ℹ️ Gear Recommendations
If you would like expert gear recommendations for your next adventure check out the Ten Digit Grid Gear Locker. I detail why each item has a spot in my backpack!
The parking lot and the trailhead have some decent shade and tree cover, but once on the trail the shade disappears pretty quickly. If you are hiking on a warm day make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
Once you push through the initial tree coverage and things open up a bit, you get a great view of Stonewall Peak and can see the beautiful granite rock top.
Despite taking the counter clockwise route up the steeper section, I didn't feel like this was too crazy steep. The amount of switchbacks and the quality of the trail maintenance they do here make it a pretty smooth climb. Don't get me wrong you are still climbing just over 1,000 ft in elevation on this hike, but the switchbacks help soften the blow of the climb. We made great time up to the peak.
On the way up to the peak the views are fantastic! Looking towards the southwest as you hike up the switchbacks you are rewarded with great views of Cuyamaca Peak.
Looking out to the North West you will see the green slopes of Middle Peak and North Peak on either side of Lake Cuyamaca.
Eventually as you wind your way up the switchbacks, the switchbacks will end and there is a rock staircase built into the rocks we viewed from the base of Stonewall Peak.
If you are not a fan of heights you may not like this part. It's nowhere near as bad as Angels Landing in Zion National park, but there is a slick drop off on the other side of the hand rail that goes up the rock stairs.
As long as you stay in between the hand railings that are installed, it's not too bad. The stairs and hand railing continue to the very top with a very nice 360 degree lookout. The top lookout is not a very large place and only maybe 4-5 people can fit on the very top of Stonewall Peak. On our way up we waited on the stone stairs for a few minutes to let one group enjoy the view before we took our turn ontop.
When we were done enjoying the view, we had a quick snack and some water before heading back down the stone stairs. Since we were hiking the loop, we took the trail down the north side of the peak. It has a few switchbacks at first but then meanders gently down.
I always like hiking a loop if I can help it, for some different views on the way down!