Cuyamaca Peak from the South
|Elevation||6,515 ft (1,986 m) NAVD 88|
|Prominence||2,855 ft (870 m) |
|Listing||Hundred Peaks Section|
|Location||San Diego County, California, U.S.|
|Parent range||Cuyamaca Mountains|
|Topo map||USGS Cuyamaca Peak|
|Easiest route||Hike, class 1|
At 6,515 feet (1,986 m), its summit is the second highest point in San Diego County (after Hot Springs Mountain.)
A popular 3.5-mile (5.6 km) year round hike to the summit of Cuyamaca leads from the Paso Picacho Campground, starting at about 5,000 feet (1,500 m).
Snows in winter are common above 5,000 feet (1,500 m) and surrounding regions in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. During summer, Bracken Ferns, a variety of wildflowers and native bunchgrasses dominate mountain meadows and the forest floor. Prior to the Cedar Fire, Black oaks once lit up the mountain
In October 2003, the Cedar Fire, the largest fire in recorded California history, burned the once abundant White Fir (Abies concolor), Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens), Jeffrey Pine, Coulter Pine, Sugar Pine, and Black oak (Quercus kelloggii) that once lined the mountain.
Small seedlings of new White fir, Sugar Pine, Coulter Pine, Jeffrey Pine, and Incense Cedar were seen within a year of the Cedar Fire, and were thriving as saplings by 2007, an example of fire ecology.
The significant elevation of Cuyamaca relative to its surrounding landscape catches Pacific moisture easily, forming clouds which are forced to release their moisture in order to pass East, resulting in average annual precipitation between 20 and 32 inches. Fall and Winter storms account for 70%, summer thunderstorms largely accounting for the balance. During the winter snow may fall and hoar frost is common upon the highest elevations.
On clear days visibility from the summit of Cuyamaca Peak can range from 60–100 miles (97–161 km) in nearly every direction.
Looking north, one can see 6,140-foot (1,870 m) Palomar Mountain among the ridge of Palomar Mountains. On very clear days 8,716-foot (2,657 m) Toro Peak in the Santa Rosas and the San Jacintos are visible. Closer yet is Volcan Mountain slightly to the northeast, the former gold rush town of Julian lying in front. Directly north are the closest summits, Middle and North Peaks.
Directly east is the Anza Borrego Desert and the Laguna Mountains, including Whale Peak. Far beyond is the Salton Sea. To the south are Lyons Peak and Lawson Peak; further yet and to the southeast are Mexican border mountains such as Table Top Mountain and the Sierra de Juárez.
View of Cuyamaca Peak from North Fortuna Mountain in San Diego.
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