Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,600.00 ft (487.68 m)
Trail type
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Nestled in the southwestern corner of Cleveland National Forest, Lawson Peak is one of three immense granite-topped peaks that tower above the outskirts of San Diego. Although Lyons Peak is currently not legally accessible, Gaskill Peak may be reached from Lawson Peak by adding 2 extra miles to the trip.

The trail begins on the unmarked Carveacre Road, located at mile marker 13.0 on Lyons Valley Road. For the first 2 miles, the trail rapidly gains elevation while gorgeous views of the Pine Creek Wilderness begin to open up in the northeast and of Barrett Lake in the southeast. The last quarter mile requires some bouldering up the rugged northeastern face of the mountain. Though the trail is not well-marked, there are ample paths with adequate footholds. Just below the summit on the western face is a 20-foot vertical crevice that leads to a cave. Two ropes have been secured for support, and there are plenty of handholds and footholds; nevertheless climbers should exercise caution. The cave leads to a ledge with views to the east, and a nearby path reaches the uppermost boulders of Lawson Peak. The dramatic, wind-swept summit features 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains and Lawson Valley, and on a clear day views extend all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National or state forest pass

Open Year-round



Beautiful views. Bouldering. Cave access.


Extreme summer temperatures. Trail not marked well.

Trailhead Elevation

2,180.00 ft (664.46 m)

Highest point

3,630.00 ft (1,106.42 m)


Near lake or river
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures

San Diego Metro Area, California
Western Sonoran + Colorado Desert, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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