Cool Highland Retreat in San Diego County
Palomar Mountain State Park covers a large expanse of mountainous terrain in northern San Diego County. The setting is reminiscent of the Sierra Nevada With rugged expanses of fir, cedar and pine trees. There are also mountain meadows that are filled with wildflowers in the spring.
Among the activities that can be enjoyed within the park are camping, hiking, biking, bird watching, and fishing. Anglers can catch trout at Doane Pond. Much of the 1,800 acres in the park are cloaked in coniferous forests that stand in marked contrast to the lower lying arid area that surround it.
Elevations here will average around 5,000 feet. The mile high setting makes for bracing evenings even in the summer. Indeed, the cool climate serves as one of the attractions during the warmer months of the year when adjoining regions may be sweltering.
The other big attraction has to be the views. There are multiple spectacular viewpoints where visitors may see vistas that stretch from the Pacific Ocean to the west and onto desert expanses to the east. Boucher Hill Summit is one such site. The peak has a fire lookout and is listed as one of the “Hundred Peaks’ of note compiled by the Sierra Club.
Palomar Mountain State Park is open daily from dawn until dusk. Reservations are suggested for those wishing to use the campground.
East Access from Other Areas
Palomar Mountain State Park can be reached from one of two roads off of Highway 76. The Rincon Spring Road is the more scenic of the pair, but it is steep and twisting and not recommended for use by trailers. This route is also designated County Road S6. County Road S7 provides an alternate that is more easily drivable. This road starts around Lake Henshaw and winds its way more slowly to the park. There are no gas stations or commercial services found within the park so all supplies must be packed in. The address to use for the park on MapQuest and Google Maps is 19952 State Park Rd., Palomar CA 92060. CLICK HERE for a map.
There is $5 entry fee for day use for each vehicle entering the park. Payment must be by cash or check. The trails within the park are reserved for the exclusive use of hikers. Dogs and mountain bikes are not permitted.
Attesting to the great views that can be found in this region is the adjacent Palomar Telescope. The 200 inch reflector mirror on this instrument made it the most powerful telescope in the world for many years. The site was selected for the sparkling night skies that abound here throughout the year. The atmosphere in the skies above Palomar is unusually still allowing for undistorted views. This is a vital consideration in determining the location of such optical instruments.