Observatory Trailhead: 33.359032, -116.86879
Observatory Campground Trailhead: 33.343098, -116.877515
Distance: 4.8 miles (out and back) Level: Moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes Kid-Friendly: Yes
The Palomar Observatory trail has two trail heads. You can either start from the Palomar Observatory and hike down, or start from the campground and hike up. We chose to hike from the campground.
I've done this hike twice now. The first time, we did hiked the Observatory Trail in October when the leaves were beginning to change color. It is a beautiful hike that takes you up to the Palomar Observatory. Although this is not my favorite hike in Palomar, it is still worthwhile.
None of the hikes have been disappointing though as this entire mountain is a magical wonderland to me. Eventually I plan on hiking all the trails out here so here is one more knocked off the list.
The trail begins at the Observatory Campground. I have not stayed at this campground before but have stayed at Fry Creek Campground which is right across the street. That too has a nice hiking trail that begins at the campground.
One of the gripes I do have with this trail is you are often directly above the main road with cars driving by. When I take a trip this far away from the city, I want to feel removed from the rest of society. I like to soak in the pure nature sounds and really meditate during my walks.
This hike constantly reminds you that civilization is directly below you. On the flip side, at least you know if something goes wrong, you are not far from help.
Also, try take the Nate Harrison Grade on your way here or home. It's an alternative route back down the mountain that barely gets taken! Only thing is it is a dirt road, so make sure to check the weather conditions beforehand.
The acorns are much larger in the mountainous regions of San Diego:
Perhaps everything is larger out here!
We made it!
There's a nice bench to sit at once you're up here. We relaxed for a little and soaked up our surroundings.