Lucky 5 Ranch, San Diego

Lucky 5 Ranch (Anza-Borrego Desert State Park)


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  • Location: Sunrise Trail Head, Sunrise Scenic Highway, Laguna Mountains, eastern San Diego County. From Highway 79 (6 miles south of Julian and 17 miles north of Interstate 8) head southeast on the Sunrise Scenic Highway (county road S1) for 3.3 miles. The signed Sunrise Trail Head is a large dirt lot on the right side of the road, between mile markers 34.5 and 34.
  • Agency: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
  • Distance: 3.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 300 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 2 hours
  • Best season: October – June
  • Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock
  • Dogs: Not allowed
  • Cell phone reception: Good at trail head, weak to none for most of the route
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: Vault toilets at the trail head
  • Camping/backpacking: The route does not go near any established campgrounds and does not have any spots that are particularly friendly for remote camping, but for those interested, remote camping is allowed throughout Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Click here for more information.
  • More information: Trip descriptions here and here; Map My Hike report here
  • Rating: 7

Updated September 2018

The Lucky 5 Ranch may sound like it belongs in Laughlin, but the property’s name comes from the Luckman Family, who owned the land from 1940 to 1954. Though it’s closer to Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and the Mt. Laguna Recreation Area, the former Lucky 5 Ranch property is now part of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and, as do other hikes on the eastern edge of the Laguna Mountains, it features excellent desert and mountain views.

The Sunrise Trail leaves from the south side of the parking lot and parallels the road for a mile. While traffic noise may be hard to ignore, this trail provides some good views of the Laguna Mountains, including Garnet, Monument and Stephenson Peaks and the desert summits, including Whale Peak and Granite Mountain. This segment also makes it possible to do a loop with the stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail on the opposite side of the road. Other scenic highlights include a jumble of boulders and views southwest toward Big Laguna Meadow.

After a mile, the trail rejoins the road. On the opposite side, pick up a dirt road that heads briefly uphill before dropping down to meet the Pacific Crest Trail, 1.7 miles from the start. Make a hard left on the P.C.T. and begin your return, heading north. Views include the Valecito Mountains below and, if visibility is good, the Santa Rosa Mountains to the north. This leg of the hike’s moderate grade is typical of the Pacific Crest Trail, staying between 4,800 and 5,100 feet above sea level.

At 3.6 miles, leave the P.C.T. on a signed spur and follow it 0.3 mile back to the parking area.

Lucky 5 Ranch, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Sunrise trail head
Sunrise Trail, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Boulders on the Sunrise Trail
Lucky 5 Ranch, San Diego County, CA
View of Big Laguna Meadow from the Sunrise Trail
Lucky 5 Ranch, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Boulders on the Pacific Crest Trail near the junction with the dirt road
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
Heading north on the Pacific Crest Trail
Oriflamme Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Oriflamme Canyon as seen from the Pacific Crest Trail
Pacific Crest Trail, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Wildflowers on the Pacific Crest Trail
Lucky 5 Ranch, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Looking north from the spur back to the highway
Text and photography copyright 2018 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
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