Lucky 5/PCT Loop - Hiking San Diego County (2024)


The Lucky 5 Ranch area is a relatively recent addition to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, thanks to the efforts of the Anza Borrego Foundation. The land lies on the western edge of the park along the Sunrise Highway, so its actually more mountainous than desert. Its location between Anza-Borrego, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, and the Cleveland National Forest makes it an important wildlife corridor.

The Lucky 5 trail runs for about a mile on the southwest side of the Highway, starting from the Sunrise Trailhead and leading to the gates of the Lucky 5 Ranch. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) conveniently runs just along the other side of the road, so you can combine the two for a nice little loop.

We decided to ditch the May Grey permeating the coast and head up to the mountains to check out this trail. Arriving at the Sunrise Trailhead we were pleased to find blue skies, and eagerly set off on our hike. The Lucky 5 trail began at an unmarked break in the fence just beyond the bathrooms at the southeastern end of the parking lot.

The narrow single track ran parallel to the highway, just to our left. Cars passed somewhat infrequently, leaving us with several minutes of quiet interrupted only by birdsong between the occasional passing vehicle.

After about .25 mile, the trail bent away from the highway for a short distance before turning southeast again, putting a little distance between us and the road.

We had been climbing gradually since starting out. It was a very gentle incline, and we probably hadn’t gained more than 50 feet, but it was enough to get us above the road and provide some great views towards Anza Borrego. Oriflammme Mountain rose up in the east.

The trail quickly bent back towards the highway again. We were able to catch some views of our return route, the Pacific Crest Trail, across the highway.

It clearly wasn’t peak wildflower season for the area, but we did spot a few splashes of color here and there, and found the occasional flowering yucca.

Around .6 mile, we once again moved away from the highway, and we soon were able to see into a beautiful valley to the southwest where the Lucky 5 Ranch is located, but is unfortunately not open to the public.

The trail began heading towards the highway again, and after a few switchbacks we found ourselves along the road just outside the Lucky 5 Ranch gates. We were just over a mile from our starting point.

On the other side of the highway was a gated off fire road, which would eventually connect to the PCT. But we also found a narrow use trail which led directly to the PCT a couple hundred feet down the hill.

We took the shorter route, and turned left upon reaching the PCT.

It was just as beautiful on this side of the road.

And the views were still fantastic.

The trail stuck pretty close to the highway until about 1.8 miles when it veered away from the road and began a short ascent.

We crested the rise and wound our way downhill again. At 2.4 miles we came to a “Y” junction where the PCT continued on to the right, eventually making its way down to the desert floor. We turned left, following the sign for the Sunrise Highway.

The chaparral brush faded away as the trail passed through an open grassy area.

We quickly came to the highway and found the parking lot just across the road.

View the full photo gallery

Directions:
Take I-8 East to the CA-79 N/Japatul Valley Road exit. Turn left and follow 79 north (towards Julian). After 2.7 miles, there is a sharp left to stay on 79 – make sure not to miss this turn (follow signs for 79 and Cuyamaca Rancho State Park). Continue on 79 for about 14 more miles, and turn right onto the Sunrise Highway. Follow the Sunrise Highway for approximately 3.3 miles to the Sunrise Trailhead on the right side of the road. map

Total Distance:2.7 miles
Difficulty:Easy
Total Ascent:332 feet
Dog Friendly?:Dogs not allowed
Bike Friendly?:Bikes not allowed on PCT segment
Facilities:Vault toilets at trailhead, no water
Fees/Permits:None

For more information, visit:
California State parks: Anza-Borrego State Park
View route or download GPX in CalTopo

Related Posts

  • Garnet Peak via Pioneer Mail Picnic Area

    After last year's Chariot fire ran through Mount Laguna, I wasn't sure what would be left along this section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). But I've always enjoyed this hike, and was optimistic that a year would have been enough time for some recovery…

  • Pine Mountain Loop

    Pine Mountain is an unassuming peak near the the northern section of the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. The Pine Mountain Trail travels along the eastern flank of the mountain through dense chaparral, but does not ascend to the peak where a decent sized population of…

  • Monument Peak (via Desert View Picnic Area)

    One of the most effective ways to beat the heat while hiking is to get an early start. So when we decided we were going to hike Monument Peak, we figured why not get the earliest start possible, and enjoy a scenic sunrise? It just…

Lucky 5/PCT Loop - Hiking San Diego County (2024)

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Fr. Dewey Fisher

Last Updated:

Views: 6328

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (62 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Fr. Dewey Fisher

Birthday: 1993-03-26

Address: 917 Hyun Views, Rogahnmouth, KY 91013-8827

Phone: +5938540192553

Job: Administration Developer

Hobby: Embroidery, Horseback riding, Juggling, Urban exploration, Skiing, Cycling, Handball

Introduction: My name is Fr. Dewey Fisher, I am a powerful, open, faithful, combative, spotless, faithful, fair person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.