Elevation Gain: 1,205′
I was excited to get back to Cuyamaca and excited to be going after a peak that I could see from my hike up to the top of Oakzanita Peak.
I am glad that I didn’t attempt this the same day as Oakzanita hike, since the bushwhacking involved would have been compounded by the snow all over East Mesa.
Brady (@HikingSanDiego) and I got to the trailhead just after 6AM and were the only people there. The sun wasn’t fully up yet, but it wasn’t cold at all, so I was worried that it might get pretty hot as the day progressed. We headed out on the East Mesa Fire road and were almost immediately presented with a nice view of Oakzanita Peak, which would dominate the landscape for most of the day.
We saw plenty of tracks in the road; deer, turkey and even some large mountain lion, but saw nothing other than lizards, squirrels, quail, and some rabbits.
While hiking up the road, we shared our varied hiking experiences and approached the area where we would start bushwhacking. I had scoped out the region from Google Earth, but I couldn’t tell which way was the best way.
We encountered a clearing and started the off-trail portion of the hike, zig-zagging through the brush without getting too scratched. I should have worn pants. There are many trails noted on various maps of the area, but there wasn’t much to see once we got there. At least nothing that appeared to go in the right direction. I will have to come out again and explore different ways.
We then made it to a lovely grassy meadow that sloped downwards toward Pine Creek and we trudged through the knee-high grass to the base of Sugg Peak. Brady asked, “What is that?” I turned and saw an old homestead nestled at the edge of the meadow, overlooking a seasonal creek.
The cabin had stone walls and a metal-framed roof. Only a small portion of the tar-paper roof still remained and it was obvious that no one had lived there in a long time. There was a window with glass and a metal fireplace. The entire northern section of the cabin was built into a boulder overhang. It would do well for a shelter if the need arose.
After turning around and trekking through more grass and navigating our way around a thicket of rose bushes, we arrived at the base of Sugg Peak. Everywhere we could, we hiked the exposed ledges of granite, minimizing our contact with the ever-thickening manzanitas, but it would be necessary to expose ourselves to the brush in order to make any progress.
Once near the peak itself, we encountered cairns here and there to lead us to the top, where we sat, admiring the incredible view of the Cuyamacas, Mount Laguna, and mountains into the distance. The weather was perfect and the view was so nice, it took an effort for us to be motivated enough to start our way back down.
We made our way back down and lost the cairns after a certain point, but roughly followed our same path back to the road. We were back to our car before noon. A great day of hiking.