San Diego Trail Tramps

Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve Hike

Date:   Sunday May 18th, 2014, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM


Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve is located near Julian, about 60 miles East of San Diego. Driving time is a little over an hour from San Diego.

Take Interstate 8 East for about 35 miles, then turn north onto CA-79 following signs thru Cuyamaca Rancho State Park towards Julian. When you arrive in downtown Julian, go north from town on Farmer Road about 2.2 miles. Turn right on Wynola Road for about 100 yards, then turn left, back onto the continuation of Farmer Road. Proceed 200 yards more and park along Farmer Road, then walk in on the gravel access road to the east, to the preserve's elaborate gateway, a project designed by Julian artist James Hubbell. We'll start hiking about 11:15 AM.

Parking Area: Latitude/Longitude: 33degrees 06'18.44" N, 116degrees, 35',57.65" W

Click HERE for maps.

The Hubbell Gateway (stone, wood and metal sculpture) is at the entrance to the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve. The stonework and "gate", including an open-air "kiva" for use during interpretive programs, were created by artists James Hubbell, Bill Porter, and Mirko Mrikajek along with a crew of local volunteers.

Background info.:

The Kumeyaay Native American Indians occupied sites on Volcan for more than 1,500 years. Permanent and seasonal summer villages were strategically placed along Arkansas and Banner Canyons, Santa Ysabel Creek and Dan Price Creek.

Volcan Mountain has mixed evergreen forests on its highest ridges (several species of conifers, including white fir, big-cone Douglas fir, Coulter pine and incense cedar), southern oak woodlands (black oak, canyon live oak and coast live oak) found on the western slopes, and the mixed desert chaparral slopes which sweep east to Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Hike Description:

The hike is of easy to moderate difficulty with an 800' elevation gain/loss and will take about 2 hrs. roundtrip, plus a snack break near the top. It’s topped by a distinctive 15-mile-long ridge that stretches from Lake Henshaw to the Anza Borrego Desert. The loop hike is 3.2 miles roundtrip to the 5353' Volcan Summit, which offers spectacular views from the desert to the coast.

The single trail is an old jeep road and the first 1/2 mile of trail may be strenuous for some because of the steep terrain. Hikers should dress for the weather, wear sturdy shoes and bring water. There are no restrooms at the site. To protect Volcan's plant and animal habitat, dogs or horses are not allowed on the Mountain.

Rising over 5,000 feet and covering more than 25,000 acres, this majestic 15 mile ridge lies in the heart of San Diego County's backcountry, stretching from Lake Henshaw to the Anza Borrego Desert with the historic town of Julian at its feet.

Misc. info:

Enjoy watching birds of prey soaring over the grassy slopes, and admire the view in the northwest of rolling hills and wooded hollows on the upper Santa Ysabel Creek drainage, as well as the townsite of Julian and the dusky Cuyamaca Mountains to the south. Stay alert! An unexpected glider sailplane may quietly swoop low, and fly by just above your head! The Warner Springs Gliderport is located nearby, just up the valley from Lake Henshaw.

For more detailed info. on the area, refer to the Volcan Mountain Foundation website, and of course to "Afoot and Afield in San Diego County" by J.Schad, 2012 Edition, Julian: Volcan Mountain, Trip 3, pp. 217-219.



If you're a wine lover, don't miss a visit to 1-2 nearby wineries before leaving the area! Open most weekends about 11am-5 pm, they usually have wine-tasting and art shows to enjoy. Check one of our maps to see how close they are to this hike!

J. Jenkins Winery, 1255 Julian Orchards Drive, P.O. Box 2094, Julian, CA  92036, (760) 765-3267
Menghini Winery, 1150 Julian Orchards Drive, Julian, CA 92036 (760) 765-2072

For more information about wine tasting in the area, please click HERE.