Volcan Mountain is one of my favorite new hikes here in San Diego County, I had tried to hike it last year but wasn’t feeling it then life happened and never really got around to it again, until November of this year. Located in East San Diego County this five mile-ish out and back trail has some pretty neat stuff going on and amazing views. Although they steep grade of the access road/trail can make for a good work out so be prepared.
If you have driven out to Julian, there is a good chance you have passed Wynola and the trail is essentially between Wynola and Julian for reference. In the back country and past some apple orchards you park along the road, so no parking lot and not a ton of space so plan accordingly. You stroll up to the trail head which is probably one of the more unique ones in San Diego.
It’s some great artwork before heading up a relatively steep fire road, while its not paved like the back side of Mt Woodson it’s probably the best example I can think of off the top of my head. San Diego’s County Parks do an amazing job of managing these spaces and they will close the trail for weather like snow and rain (More info here). This is a good opportunity to remind everyone “know before you go” so you don’t drive all the way out for a closed trail.
The grade starts quickly, and your hike will take you up the hillside and through a lot of neat life zones, it’s a concentrated and diverse section from oaks to cedar and ferns from the water. The whole time with some great views though the trees of the valley. Don’t worry there are ample turn outs and flat areas to catch your breath and take in the sites. But the views get really amazing when you get up to the ridgeline.
You have commanding views of the west and can see for miles. The east is awesome to, I could see Anza-Borrego and the Salton See from up there and they have a few great kiosks pointing out local geography and some viewers to take a better look. This is probably one of the more scenic trails I have hiked here with great views of east and west. This would be a great place to take visitors to share San Diego’s backcountry in one hike.
At the summit though the views while nice aren’t as good as the ridgeline in my opinion but still well worth checking out for a great picnic spot and a chance to catch your breath. After looping around the peak we headed down the way we came and enjoyed taking advantage of the downhill aspect, ha-ha. I’m definitely happy I finally made it up and glad that we added it as one of our featured trail stickers (check them out here) for December.