Dos Picos

Hike Dos Picos County Park in Ramona, northern San Diego County

Hiker at Dos Picos County Park in San Diego County

Ramona has two of the most popular peak trails in all of San Diego County—Mount Woodson’s Potato Chip Rock and the Iron Mountain summit—but for those seeking a gentler, more hidden hike, the 1.4-mile loop around Dos Picos County Park is a small yet mighty gem.

Start at the 78-acre Dos Picos County Park (parking is $3). The park is a very popular local camping destination, with manicured grounds for pitching a tent and charming cabins to rent. Start at picnic area #2 and cross the stream bed to get to the nature trail loop and head right (west). You’ll do some climbing on a paved road before reconnecting with the narrow trail. Look for a sign that says Ernie Pantoja Memorial Trail across from a large outcropping of boulders. 

Hiker crossing a bridge at Dos Picos County Park in San Diego County

The path climbs, and you get views of the surrounding hills and ranchland. Look for two prominent peaks that give the park its name (dos picos is “two peaks” in Spanish). Keep following signs for the nature trail, and after descending through oak woodland, be sure to veer off to check out the pond, which often has plenty of resident waterfowl, from ducks and geese to coots and snowy egrets.

Back on the nature loop, follow a well-crafted stone-lined path under oaks to a footbridge, a gorgeous surprise along the trail. Swing around the south of the pond and past a gazebo to retrace your steps to the starting point.

To get to Dos Picos County Park, take the I-15 to the Poway Rd. exit and head east. After 8.9 miles, turn left onto the CA-67 and after 5.6 miles, turn right onto Mussey Grade Rd. for 1.1 miles followed by a slight right onto Dos Picos Park Rd. (the park will be on your left, look for signage). Dog-friendly!

Story and photos by Matt Pawlik, @mattitudehikes

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Sugarloaf Ridge State Park waterfall hike in Sonoma Valley

    Sweet as Sugarloaf

    Right in the heart of wine country there’s plenty more than wine flowing right now, with an oft unheralded waterfall that has surged to an exuberant spectacle from all the recent rain.

    View
  2. Muiraculous Beauty

    Ready to make your non-California friends jealous? Have a bonfire at Muir Beach while watching the sunset. This is Northern California living at its most braggadocious.

    View
  3. From Town to Falls

    Mount Tam’s Cascade Falls is a bit under the radar, tucked back off a residential area in Mill Valley. Some people drive up to the tiny parking lot nearest to the falls. Do an easy 3-mile (round-trip) hike right from downtown Mill Valley, weaving through quiet streets and secret trails.

    View
  4. oak manor labyrinth

    Loma Alta's Hidden Labyrinth

    Oak Manor Labyrinth in Marin’s Loma Alta Open Space is a hidden gem with huge views. The 2-mile out-and-back hike to reach it is a bit steep in parts, but the payoff is a 360-degree joy to the wild (with a bit of cityscape).

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Sponsored

    Best in Snow

    There’s snow better destination for outdoor fun and events. Plumas County is a northern Sierra Nevada dreamland, with vast outdoor spaces, places, and races! Snowshoe Lassen Volcanic National Park, downhill ski at charming Coppervale Resort, and have a blast at the quirky Longboard Races.

    View
  2. Hike from Point Fermin Park to Angels Gate Park

    Park it Here

    Do a 2.5-mile scenic hike from Point Fermin Park to Angels Gate Park in Los Angeles. It’s got big trees, big ocean views, and a food and beer bonus!

    View
  3. Skull On!

    Temescal Canyon not only has epic views, it's got a waterfall right now, one that only shows after big rains. Head out on this 4.6-mile loop.

    View
  4. Two people walking towards Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point Orange County

    Getting Salty

    Long walks on the beach are great, but what about long walks to the beach? This 7.7-mile (round-trip) to the beautiful Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point is one of the best in Orange County.

    View