Kwaaymii Trail

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Kwaaymii Trail, Laguna Mountains, CA
Pine at Pinyon Point, Kwaaymii Trail
Pines on the Kwaaymii Trail, San Diego County, CA
Dusk in the pines, Kwaaymii Trail

Kwaaymii Trail

  • Location: Laguna Mountains, east San Diego County. From I-8, take the Sunrise Scenic Highway exit (47) and head north for 9.5 miles to the Mt. Laguna Visitor Center. Turn left on Los Huercos Rd. and park in a small lot behind the building. From Julian, take Highway 79 south for 5.8 miles and turn left onto the Sunrise Scenic Highway. Follow it 14.4 miles to Los Huercos Rd. and the Mt. Laguna Visitor Center. A National Forest Service Adventure Pass ($5 for a day or $30 for the year) is required for parking. Click here to purchase.
  • Agency: Cleveland National Forest/Descanso District
  • Distance: 0.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 100 feet
  • Suggested time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Best season: All year
  • USGS topo maps: Mt. Laguna
  • Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield San Diego County
  • More information: Trip descriptions here and here; article about this trail and the nearby Desert View Trail here
  • Rating: 5
Kwaaymii Trail, San Diego County, CA
0:00 – Trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

First things first: the name of this trail is pronounced “KWY-mee.” An enjoyable little jaunt through the high country of the Laguna Mountains, it makes a perfect side trip to compliment a longer hike such as the Agua Dulce Loop or Garnet Peak.

The trail is named for the Kwaaymii tribe and (when available) brochures at the trail head provide commentary about the natural history of the area, including how the natives used the available resources for food and other purposes. From the parking area, the trail passes by a few houses and ascends a pine and oak-shaded slope; keep an eye out for cacti and manzanita as well. At 0.2 miles, you’ll get a view of the Mt. Laguna Observatory, a white sphere that resembles the larger one on Palomar Mountain.

Mt. Laguna Observatory, San Diego County, CA
0:08 – View of the Mt. Laguna Observatory (times are approximate)

At the top of the ridge, you exit the shade and enjoy some nice views at Pinyon (or Pinon) Point. Look for morteros in the rock; these holes were made by the tribes to help prepare food. From Pinyon Point, the trail descends back into the woodlands, heading toward the highway and then back toward the visitor’s center.

Morteros, Kwaaymii Trail, San Diego County, CA
0:12 – Morteros at Pinyon Point

Text and photography copyright 2015 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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