Middle Peak – Peak #20

Middle Peak
Elevation: 5,883′
Miles: 6
Trailhead
Agency: Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

This is another hike where I was fortunate enough to have someone come along with me. The PD was eager to do a little hiking since he’s been addicted to mountain biking for the last couple of years. The days have been still warm, but not crazy-hot like they’ve been over the past few months. It turned out to be a perfect day.

On the way to the trail head, we stopped off to see some friends off, as they were taking the Green Valley trail to Middle Peak and back. We were happy to see an abundance of wildlife that seemed to show itself everywhere we looked. We saw several groups of deer and many gangs of turkeys in the morning light.

Turkeys in Green Valley

Turkeys in Green Valley

Green Valley in Cuyamaca

Green Valley in Cuyamaca

We then drove to the trail head and saw more deer cutting their way across a meadow. They were too far away for me to snap a picture. With nearly 1,300′ of elevation gain, we were in for a morning of climbing. The views from the trail very nice.

The Middle Peak Fire Road and the Cuyamaca Valley

The Middle Peak Fire Road and the Cuyamaca Valley

Lake Cuyamaca from Middle Peak Fire Road

Lake Cuyamaca from Middle Peak Fire Road

We continued up the trail, which became increasingly “powdery.” Once again, the trees around us were completely charred from recent fires. The PD, who had been on the trail recently, noted that the Forest Service had been busy clearing “widow-makers” and fallen logs since he had last been here.

Burnt Trees on Middle Peak Fire Road

Burnt Trees on Middle Peak Fire Road

As we climbed higher and higher, I began looking for any sign of the trail to the actual peak, for the fire road merely skirts the peak on its northern flank. Once we got to the highest point of the road, we could see what looked like a thinning of the brush that appeared to completely cover Middle Peak.

We started going off trail, reassured by occasional rock ducks. It wasn’t long before we came upon a wall of brush with no apparent way through. Looking behind me, I saw a strand of shiny silver metallic ribbon tied to a branch. Looking over the brush ahead of me,  I saw another.

We both realized that it would be necessary to force ourselves through 7-8′ tall brush in order to make our way to the peak. It had taken us 45 minutes to get to the top of the fire road. It took us an additional 45 minutes to go through .25 miles of brush, searching for the elusive silver ribbons, to the summit, where we found a pile of stones and a summit register.

Cuyamaca Peak rom Middle Peak

Cuyamaca Peak rom Middle Peak

Summit Register on Middle Peak

Summit Register on Middle Peak

Our way out. What trail?

Our way out. What trail?

Middle Peak Trail Map

Middle Peak Trail Map (Click to Enlarge)

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Comments

  1. says

    Great post! Love the video. Looks like you had some major bushwhacking to do! Where did you get your video’s background music?

  2. says

    A friend and I attempted Middle Peak from Sugar Pines Trail and were turned back by the overgrown ceanothus. I’m not sure if the controlled burn remedied that or not, but REI sent some volunteers up there last month to clear trail. I hear they made it almost “to the halfway point.”

  3. says

    I appreciate the update. Are you referring to your trip on October 17th or did you give it another go? We went on the Middle Peak Fire Road and got almost to the peak without a problem. That is, until we had to bushwhack the rest of the way.

    If anyone has gone since the burn (though probably not today, since it is raining like crazy right now, and likely snowing), I would like to hear an update on the trail status all the way to the peak.

  4. says

    Was it that long ago? Yes, that was it. I’m not entirely sure what was burned, but I think the estimate of Sugar Pines Trail being about halfway clear (from the bottom up) is pretty accurate. I believe the REI trail work was done after the control burn. Meaning, it probably wasn’t cleared by the fire. I’ll try to find out more next time I’m up there (I’m a docent-in- training). Nice blog, btw, looking forward to following your progress.

  5. says

    I just hiked here last weekend (3/6/2010) and it was very and i mean very overgrown. Would not recommend this hike, at least the top 200 feet for awhile.

  6. Mike Liz says

    Just completed the Middle Peak hike on 11/30/12. There was another recent prescribed burn in the middle of November 2012 and bushwhacking is no longer necessary to attain the summit. There is a lot of branches, trees, and debris but it took about 10 minutes up to the summit from the trail with minimal visibility during a storm chaser hike.

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