Garnet Peak Trail

Cleveland National Forest, California

Distance1.1mi
Elevation Gain528ft
Trailhead Elevation5,387ft
Top5,884ft
Elevation Min/Max5380/5884ft
Elevation Start/End5387/5387ft

Garnet Peak Trail

Garnet Peak Trail is a hiking and horse trail in San Diego County, California. It is within Cleveland National Forest. It is 1.1 miles long and begins at 5,387 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 2.3 miles with a total elevation gain of 528 feet. The Garnet Peak Trailhead parking is near the trailhead. The trail ends near Garnet Peak (elevation 5,899 feet). This trail connects with the following: Pacific Crest Trail.

Garnet Peak Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Although Garnet Peak isn’t the highest peaklet along the edge of the Lagunas’ eastern escarpment, its exposed position makes it a good place to view both the pine-clad plateau and the raw desert below. If you’re particularly adventurous, you might try a predawn pilgrimage to observe the sunrise from its summit. Around the time of the winter solstice, the sun’s flattened disk peeps up over the desert wastes of northwestern Sonora, Mexico, some 150 miles away. On the clearest mornings at that time of year, you might witness the famed “green flash,” an event occasionally seen on the horizon at sunset from San Diego’s coast but seldom seen at sunrise."

"This is one of the most picturesque and beautiful regions in Southern California. The austere scenery is stark and desolate to be certain, but there is an underlying elegance to its openness and the vast immeasurable distances that spread out below the peak. Nothing but the wind touches this thick chaparral-filled plateau. The silence coupled with the song of the currents creates a natural lucidity that engages the spirit and forges a connection with the barren landscape. From the apex, the view is staggering: an entire swath of Southern California can be seen, from the Salton Sea to the Herculean summits of San Gorgonio and San Jacinto. The dome of the Palomar Observatory is conspicuous to the north; to the west and south, the entire Cuyamaca and Laguna Mountain Recreation Area appear. This may be the best view in all of San Diego County."

"The summit of Garnet Peak will send shivers of joy down your spine, and, if the weather is clear, might offer the most spectacular views in San Diego County. Reach the trailhead before dawn for a sublime experience on the summit. Don’t forget a jacket on this hike—the summit can be cold."

"Although Garnet Peak isn’t the highest peaklet along the Laguna Mountain rim, its exposed position makes it a good place to view both the pine-clad Laguna plateau and the raw desert below. Especially rewarding is a predawn pilgrimage to observe the sunrise from its summit. Around the winter solstice, the sun’s flattened disk peeps up over the desert wastes of northwestern Sonora, Mexico, some 150 miles away."

"Garnet Peak is an easy introduction to the pleasures of Laguna Mountain National Recreation Area."

Garnet Peak Trail Reviews

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8/1/2018
Very short and sweet and with really great views. We hiked it later in the day to avoid the heat (there is very little shade) and crowds of people. Both forest and desert scenes all spread out before you--very cool! Even better, the trail intersects with the PCT if you want to hike further.
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4/9/2013
This may be one of my favorite hikes in this area. The vistas are great, the hike is not a stroll, but not a challenge, and the parking is easy and there are several other excellent trails nearby. Lot's of folks use this route for trail running, and once you hike the trail you can see why. The last quarter of a mile is pretty steep, so if you are physically limited or consider easy, really easy, be advised. Fun, be sure to look for the hang-gliders to your left from the peak on a nice day, make a great photo op with a telephoto lens.
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1/2/2010
This trail was an off-shoot from the Penny Pines trail. The trail itself gets pretty steep at times. The views into the desert were amazing. We were blessed enough to have a clear day. We could see the Salton Sea from where we were. We also did plenty of bird watching along the way. The day was very clear, and the wind was minimal. The positives of this trail were obviously the amazing views. There are also plenty of rocks and places to sit at the summit. We rested and ate lunch up there. The negative aspect in my opinion, was the fact that we saw plenty of people there. The trail is also very short, not a full day hike. My ideal trail is one where the hike is longer and very isolated. The trail is short, but seems long going up. The trek down goes very fast. I suggest this trail for anyone who wants to see an amazing view of the desert floor from almost 6,000 feet up.
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11/21/2003
For my first time in Southern California, I don't know what was cooler- driving to the trailhead or the hike itself. The drive from San Diego takes you through an impressive (to an Easterner) mountain range, and the trail places you at the base of the mountains with great views all around. Although the hike is relatively easy, there are plenty of boulders to hop if you feel like burning some energy or breaking some ankles.
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Garnet Peak Trail Photos

Trail Information

Cleveland National Forest
Nearby City
Cleveland National Forest
Parks
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Accessibility
Laguna Mountains
Local Contacts
USGS 7.5-minute Monument Peak
Local Maps