Among many things, the diversity of trees, desert chaparral and cacti combine to make Cuyamaca Rancho State Park one of the jewels of San Diego County’s numerous trail systems. On a recent mountain biking trip, I was reminded of how wonderful the trail rises and falls, climbs and dips as it meanders from the visitor center all the way to Stonewall Creek Fire Road.
Cold Stream Trail is a 1.1-mile long ribbon of trail that can be combined with Cold Spring Trail (2.2 miles), and is open to mountain bikes year-round (e-bikes are not permitted). This typically takes around an hour round-trip for an easy out-and-back ride with minimal difficult/challenging stretches of trail.
If you’re looking to do this route, start at Cold Stream Trail, pedaling away from the visitor center. This will connect into Cold Spring Trail, a newer path that starts a little past the West Mesa Trailhead when going north.
Coming up to the meadow not far from the visitor center, you’ll continue on toward the manzanitas which make for a tunnel-like experience. Soon, Cold Stream Trail meets up with Cold Spring Trail where you’ll get a glimpse of Stonewall Peak as the trail slowly but assuredly ascends.
Once here, you’ll start to see the views open up, offering glimpses of the vast expanse of chaparral, all the way to Oakzanita Peak to the distant south. Over the years, I have pedaled from those higher grasslands to where I currently was, which makes for a glorious few hours of mountain biking.
Toward the end of the ride, you’ll arrive at Stonewall Creek Fire Road where you can turn around and ride it back. It’s a fun ride and a great way to spend an afternoon by doubling the miles on one long stretch of trail in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.