The beautiful forest and mountain meadows of Palomar Mountain State Park are in northern San Diego County on the west side of Palomar ... more »Mountain. Large pine, fir and cedar trees make the park one of the few areas in southern California with a Sierra Nevada-like atmosphere. Elevation within the park averages 5,000 feet above sea level, making evenings cool even during the summer and freezing in winter.
The park is home to an interlocking network of trails; selecting a hike among the many forks is like picking a plot in a Choose-Your-Own Adventure novel. In other words, you are not bound by any particular destination when you embark from a trailhead. Creek, woodland, meadow, pre/historic site, and ridgecrest views are yours.
To the east, beyond the limits of the park, is the world-famous Palomar Observatory and the highest point of the 6,100-foot mountain. Many park visitors make the eight-mile trip up the road to the observatory, which is operated by the California Institute of Technology. The observatory is open to the public free of charge from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. less «