Cedar Trail

Palomar Mountain State Park

San Diego Metro Area, California

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Cedar Trail


  • View from the trailhead.- Cedar Trail
  • The trail is relatively steep for the first half of the hike.- Cedar Trail
  • The trail passes through dense forest.- Cedar Trail
  • There are trees blocking the trail at a few points.- Cedar Trail
  • Squirrels hide their nuts in the trees.- Cedar Trail
  • Scott's Cabin site.- Cedar Trail
  • An old fire hydrant by Scott's Cabin.- Cedar Trail
  • Palomar Mountain is home to a variety of lizards.- Cedar Trail
  • The trail on Thunder Ridge.- Cedar Trail
  • The trail on Thunder Ridge.- Cedar Trail
  • Chimney Flats.- Cedar Trail
  • The trail goes back into the forest after Chimney Flats.- Cedar Trail
  • Doane Creek.- Cedar Trail
  • Doane Pond.- Cedar Trail
Overview + Weather
Beautiful forests and lake. Abundant wildlife.
Many fallen trees blocking trails.
San Diego Metro Area, CA
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
900.00 ft (274.32 m)
Parking Pass: 
State Park Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
3.90 mi (6.28 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,700.00 ft (1,432.56 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Cedar Trail, also known as the Thunder Spring Loop, is a moderate hike in Palomar Mountain State Park. Beginning at the southwestern edge of the Doane Pond parking lot, the trail passes through the historic Scott’s Cabin site, an apple orchard, Chimney Flats, and then follows a stream back to Doane Pond. It is a great area for viewing wildlife such as mule deer, gray foxes, squirrels, and a variety of birds including woodpeckers and bluebirds. In the spring and early summer there is an abundance of wildflowers as well.

The first section from Doane Pond to Chimney Flats is relatively steep and is lined with poison oak. There are also several fallen trees blocking the trail due to recent storms. Just 1.2 miles from the trailhead on Thunder Ridge lie the remnants of Scott’s Cabin, which was never completed. The Palomar Mountain area was home to many other settlers who were in search of gold and a place to raise cattle. The trail continues through an old apple orchard, which still produces fruit and passes through a meadow dubbed Chimney Flats. From here until Doane Pond the trail is considerably less steep and follows Doane Creek back to the pond. There are several picnic tables and restrooms located around Doane Pond. Fishing is permitted year-round from 6 a.m. to sunset. Doane Valley Campground, located near the trailhead, has 31 family sites equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, drinking water, and food lockers.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide

Field Guide

Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(2 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(19 within a 30 mile radius)

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