Ascent of Middle Peak on 2019-04-26

Climber: David Sharg

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Friday, April 26, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Middle Peak
    Elevation:5883 ft / 1793 m

Ascent Trip Report

Cuyamaca, Middle and Stonewall Peaks

Total distance: 15 miles
Total elevation gain: 3500 ft
Total time: 7 hours, 54 minutes
Start time: 10:10am
Trailhead: Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Paso Pichacho Campground off Highway 79
Accomplishments by list: HPS #27, #28 and #29

Difficulty of hike: 8 out of 10. The individual parts of the hike aren't too tough, but putting them all together makes the hike more difficult than the numbers indicate otherwise. The hardest part is bushwacking on Middle Peak.

Views during hike: 8 out of 10 for Cuyamaca, 4 out of 10 for Middle, and 10 out of 10 for Stonewall. Excellent 360 degree views from the summit of Stonewall. Very good views from the summit of Cuyamaca, as well as from the trails leading to Cuyamaca and Middle. On the summit of Middle, you're up to your eyeballs in brush, so there's almost nothing visible, other than the summit of Cuyamaca.

Ascent on the descent: After climbing Cuyamaca, the descent to the saddle with Middle is about 1,500 ft. After that is an 800 ft climb to Middle, followed by the same descent. Before continuing descending to the campground, there's another 100-150 ft of climbing from the saddle. Lastly is the 800-900 ft climb to Stonewall.

People seen on the hike: On the ascent of Cuyamaca, there was a crew of workers clearing brush, followed by a ranger, followed by a couple hiking. After the summit of Cuyamaca, the same ranger was there, followed by no one to and from Middle, til reaching the campground again. From the campground, there were 15-25 people on the trail to and from Stonewall.

Animals seen on the hike: One bird that was either a very large quail or a small turkey.

My plan for this day was to hike Hot Springs Mountain, but upon arrival at the Indian Reservation, I found out there was an event there and the mountain was closed. As a result, I had to drive to the nearest place that had wifi, which was not close, to make new plans. I found the mountains of Cuyamaca, Middle and Stonewall all close together, so I headed to this area to see how many I could bag with a late start.

I parked at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. The entrance fee was $10. I didn't mind paying fees like this if the funds go to maintain parks like these, but if you want to avoid the fee, it's possible to park further north on Highway 79 for free. Not sure where exactly, but other TR's should have some info about this.

The climb to Cuyamaca Peak was gradual and not too tough. When I started, I asked the ranger at the campground if there's a way to hike to Middle Peak from Cuyamaca, but she said she wasn't sure there was one. Eventually, I found the Conejos Trail, which connected to the Middle Peak Trail that I was looking for. It's a beautiful trail with views towards Stonewall Peak.

As far as the Middle Peak Trail itself, it shows on the map as a loop, but I could only find the western part of this loop, so I hiked that way both on the ascent and the descent. The lower part of this loop has excellent views of the meadows to the west. There's no issues avoiding brush until you get to the last half mile, when you go off trail. From there, it's an extreme bushwack. Thankfully, there are cairns almost every other step. Following these cairns is really the only way to reach the summit, any other path is impassable.

After descending Middle and returning to the campground by Azalea Springs Road, I still had enough daylight to climb Stonewall. This 2 mile trail has lots of switchbacks, which make it not too difficult, but after summiting the other peaks, I was struggling by the end. But it was worth it, since the views were the best.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Bushwhack
Ascent Part of Trip: Cuyamaca State Park

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Cuyamaca Peak2019-04-26 
2Middle Peak2019-04-26 
3Stonewall Peak2019-04-26 
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by David Sharg
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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