Hello everyone! This is a friendly reminder that any of these fun places we may visit, we are a guest at. Please treat both businesses and trails with the utmost respect. We here at Hidden San Diego follow the 'Leave no Trace' mantra, meaning whatever you bring with you comes back with you. If you see trash on a trail, please do your part to help remove it. Remember, we are not picking up trash from another person but instead cleaning up for Mother Nature. Happy adventures!

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1107 Farmer Rd.
Julian, CA 92036

Phone: (760) 765-4098
33.105068, -116.602516

Hike: 3.2 miles loop   Level:  Moderate    Elevation Gain/Loss: 800′
Dog-Friendly: Yes    Kid-Friendly: Yes


About Volcan Mountain


Volcan Mountain has had Indigenous roots for at least 6,000 years if not much longer. The most recent tribe are the Iipay people, which translated means “the people”. The Iipay are closely related to the Yuman  people who are said to have inhabited the desert for the past 11,000 years.

Volcan mountain has an abundance of food out here as the high mountains provide a variety of plant-life and animals. Some of the food sources include acorns, berries, roots, grass seeds, deer and rabbit.

In 1775,  Native lives were forever changed when the Spanish colonizers arrived. The Iipay were forced to adapt to the Spanish lifestyle, adopt their religious beliefs and were eventually relocated from their homes onto reservations.

Shortly after. the miners, loggers and ranchers came in due to the gold rush and took over the land even more.

Learn more about the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel and how to support them here.

The Volcan Mountain was off-limits to the public for most of the 20th century, so we are quite fortunate to get to explore it today!

While you’re in the area, make sure to visit Downtown Julian too!


In 1989, famed artist and architect, James Hubbell was asked to design an entrance to the Volcan Mtn. trail that would celebrate the passageway to the high summit and cause people to pause and appreciate that they were entering a special place. In 1990 Mr. Hubbell built a beautiful gateway of native rock and cedar beams collected from and milled on Palomar Mountain. James’ son, Brennan, built the tall iron sculptures that we see in front of the gateway.


Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve offers approximately 2,900 acres of mixed conifer forest. Hike to the summit for spectacular views from the desert to the coast. This roughly 5-mile round-trip hike is considered moderately-difficult, with steep inclines.

Personal Experience

We did this hike in December when the weather was perfect for an uphill climb. It was an almost completely secluded hike with views that only got more beautiful the higher we climbed. We got lucky and found several metates/mortars although I am going to keep their whereabouts top-secret to help preserve history. This is a great hike for families and is dog-friendly. There are lookout points with benches to appreciate the views and have small breaks during your hike.

Manzanita berries:

We came across several metates during our hike! This metate was really cool because it had a thick layer of frozen ice in it!


Sage had to drink from every metate we found:As we were leaving I came across an interesting sun dial that I didn’t notice on our way up:When we were driving away three chickens crossed the road in front of us. Turns out they really DO just want to get to the other side! 😛And the evening ended with a glorious sunset:What a difference a few minutes can make!

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1 Review


  • Jon Cunningham Cunningham
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    Joan and I had a cabin on Volcan for 40 years and also have a secret metate spot. Our friend Venona (Grand) was born on Volcan I believe. Not sure if she is still alive but I saw her daughter Vana about 10 years ago in their antique shop across the street from the pie shop; great photos and cute dog. Thank you. Jon

    November 14, 2020

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