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San Diego, CA: Noble Canyon-Indian Creek-Pine Mountain Loop

ca

Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 11.9 miles


No time for Pacific Crest thru-hiking? This 12-miler samples a section of the Pacific Crest Trail, passing mile-high peaks and desert vistas.
  • Noble Canyon Trailhead
  • Well-Worn Singletrack
  • Recovering from forest fire
  • The road to Garnett Peak
  • Remains after the forest fire
  • Flora
  • Second road crossing
  • Lizard
  • Pine Valley-Indian Creek Trail Junction
  • Indian Creek Trail
  • Hiking toward Indian Creek
  • Rollers before Indian Creek
  • Near the creek
  • After you cross Indian Creek, head uphill toward Pine Mountain
  • Keep climbing
  • The singletrack to Pine Mountain
  • Pine Mountain Trail meets Sunrise Highway
  • Junction
  • Walking across Pine Mountain
  • Pioneer Mail
  • More post-fire regrowth
  • Garnett Peak Trail
  • Mile-high mountains border the PCT to the east
  • More mountain views to the east
  • Nearing Oasis Spring

Fresh mountain air, shrub-covered backcountry, jagged peaks, and a killer climbing workout aren't this route's only perks. An hour's drive from San Diego proper, this solitude-inducing dayhike tours pine and oak stands, recovering burn zones, wildflower meadows, and far-stretching canyons in the Laguna Mountains.

Call it a life-list loop for the SoCal workingman. As you head north along the Pine Mountain Trail, look west to see San Diego's second highest mountain, Cuyamaca Peak, jutting 6,512 feet skyward.

At mile 5, step onto the world-famous Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Watch in awe as the Lagunas begin to take up the entire eastern horizon. For an optional side trip, the short but strenuous 2.4-mile climb to the summit of Garnet Peak (5,800 feet) lets you eat your lunch guilt-free while savoring the best Anza Borrego Desert views in San Diego County.

More views wait ahead as you continue southbound on the PCT. Walking across a 5600-foot-high ridgeline, look left to see the mountainside drop thousands of feet into the valley. Storm Canyon lies 3,000 feet below you to the east; Monument Peak (6,200 feet) becomes more and more visible to the south as you get closer to Oasis Springs and the finish.

-Mapped by Rajeev Jain

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