Laguna Mountain Recreation Area – Meadows and peaks at the edge of the desert


Storm Canyon at the edge of Garnet Peak in Mount Laguna

Laguna Mountain Recreation Area
Descanso Ranger District – Cleveland National Forest
Owen Martin, District Ranger
3348 Alpine Boulevard
Alpine, CA 91901
(619) 445-6235
Agency: Cleveland National Forest

Laguna Mountain Recreation Area is located about 45 minutes from downtown San Diego and is adjacent to Rancho Cuyamaca State Park, is part of the Cleveland National Forest, and is seated at the edge of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Also known as Mount Laguna, it features several miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, some of it that runs along the edge of a steep drop off into the desert to the east, providing unparalleled views into the valley below. There are several large meadows that have large ponds (lagunas) that are well worth the hike.

Features: Wildlife, Hiking, Camping, Fishing, Horseback Trails, RV/Trailer Camping, Picnic Grounds

Peaks: Monument Peak, Garnet Peak, Garnet Mountain, Pine Mountain, Wooded Hill, Manza BM, and access to Sheephead Mountain.

Whale Peak over Anza-Borrego from Monument Peak Summit

View larger map

Mount Laguna Webcam (from Monument Peak)
Mt. Laguna east view

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  1. says

    I have done quite a bit of hiking and camping in the Mt Laguna area. What a wonderful place to relax for a couple of days. This has to be one of my favorite places in SoCal.

    I encourage everyone to take the walk from Mt Laguna to Cibbets Flats campground on the Pacific Crest Trail!

  2. says

    A favorite place of mine as well. There isn’t much fire damage up there, and still some shady forest hiking. And… a secret rope swing.

  3. says

    It’s one of my favorite places, too. A hike through the Big Laguna area is reminiscent of some if my hikes through the meadows of the Sierras. I will flesh out the article with some more info soon.

  4. says

    We really enjoyed Garnet Peak; the steep drop right into the desert is pretty amazing. We didn’t stay at the top for too long as we found out we had a rattlesnake visitor lurking about.

  5. says

    Thanks for the comments!

    That drop-off into the desert is awe-inspiring. I’ve updated the post with a picture of my feet dangling into the Storm Canyon tributary.

    And Marc, DM me about the “secret rope swing.” Fascinating…

  6. says

    Ok, the rope swing is not so much a secret as not well-known, I can provide coordinates, if anyone would like.

  7. says

    I’ve always wanted to hike through this area! Thanks for the inspiration…I think we’ll do this hike next. My husband and I have hiked in the Rancho Cuyamaca SP area, up to the Cuyamaca Peak…we stumbled upon a couple of random Geo Caches at the top of the peak without even trying (anyone like to Geo Cache, too?). Anyway…this area is one of our favorites in all of San Diego County. It’s a little piece of heaven.

    And, Marc – yes, please provide coordinates for the rope swing, it sounds fun!

  8. From Wisconsin says

    OK – you’ve convinced me. I’ve got to hike at Laguna Mt. I’m thinking about day hiking the last week of Feb 2011. How much do I need to be concerned about snow and “tire chains” at that time of the year?

  9. says

    In February, there is always a chance that there will be enough snow to require chains, but the plows get up there pretty quickly. This year hasn’t really been cold and went enough at the same time to produce a lot of snow. This week, it’s been in the 80’s down here, so any snow that was around has quickly melted. I usually look at the Monument Peak Web Cam to check the conditions before I go.

    Good luck and I hope you enjoy it. The hike to Big Laguna can be very nice. As well as the peaks to the east overlooking Anza-Borrego.

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