Wooded Hill Nature Trail
- Location: Laguna Mountains, east San Diego County. From I-8, take the Sunrise Scenic Highway exit (47) and head north for 8.2 miles to Wooded Hill Rd. Turn left and drive 0.4 mile to a small turnout on the left side of the road, opposite the campground entrance. 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: 1.5 miles
- Elevation gain: 300 feet
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- 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, here and here
- Rating: 7
Few trails offer as much great scenery for as little effort as the Wooded Hill Nature Trail. For many hikers, more time will likely be spent driving to the trail than hiking it. Those who make the drive to this trail in the Laguna Mountains, an hour east of San Diego, might want to stick around and knock off another nearby hike or two, such as Garnet Peak or Agua Dulce.
The short, figure-8 shaped trail can be hiked in either direction. Both trails from the parking lot ascend Wooded Hill’s eastern flank. Right away you’re likely to notice the pleasant aroma of the Jeffrey pines that cover the slope. Spring wildflowers include Indian paintbrush, scarlet buglers and more. At 0.3 mile, the lower portion of the figure 8 is completed. Both forks continue uphill; the left (south) side of the loop provides views of the southeastern Laguna Mountains while the trail in the north side offers glimpses between the trees of the Mt. Laguna Observatory and the Cuyamaca Mountains.
At 0.7 mile, you reach the high point of 6,223 feet, which makes Wooded Hill one of San Diego County’s tallest named peaks. The trees block out much of the view, although you can still get glimpses of the Pine Creek Wilderness to the south. After enjoying the peace, quiet and fresh air, continue down the opposite side of the loop back to the junction and then the trail head.
Text and photography copyright 2016 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.