Sunset Trail & Big Laguna Trail Loop - Cleveland NF, CA

Date: February 28, 2015

Miles: 3.25

Elevation Change: 500'

Trip Report:

Cleveland National Forest is the perfect forest escape from the coastal beaches in San Diego. This easy, short loop passed through beautiful trees, meadows, and view points that reminded me of my home in Northern California. You will need a 5$ Adventure Forest Pass, so be sure to pick on up beforehand. 

Although rain was predicted for the entire weekend, we all felt like we needed a break from the sun and surf. We headed to Cleveland National Forest, only an hour drive inland. We drove along the Sunrise Highway SR-1, a beautiful road that winds through the forests.

We parked at mile 19.1, used the porto potties along the side of the road, and put on all of the extra layers we brought because the temperature had dropped to a frigid 37 degrees when we set off on the trail. We took the Sunset Trail to the left at a junction 0.1 miles in. The gloomy weather and fog shrouded the trees, making it feel like we were wandering through a mysterious forest.

Scrambling up a rocky patch to the left of the trail. We briefly caught a glimpse of a meadow far below us through the fog.

Scrambling up a rocky patch to the left of the trail. We briefly caught a glimpse of a meadow far below us through the fog.

The foggy view from the top of the rocky patch

The foggy view from the top of the rocky patch

The fog was moving so quickly that there would be periods of clear sky, only to be covered immediately in dense fog. We hit Laguna Meadows after 1.5 miles

Who would have thought San Diego had forests like these?

Who would have thought San Diego had forests like these?

After another mile of hiking through the dense forest, the trees suddenly cleared to reveal an expansive meadow and a small reservoir. The Mount Laguna Observatory can also be seen sitting above the trees across the meadow.

Looking out at the Water of the Woods and its surrounding meadows

Looking out at the Water of the Woods and its surrounding meadows

The picture of a setting (rising?) sun on the trail markers confirms that you are on the Sunset Trail

Ending our hike here and looping back onto the Big Laguna Trail

Kyle playing around with a double exposure shot

Kyle playing around with a double exposure shot

Headed back on the Big Laguna Trail back to our car

Headed back on the Big Laguna Trail back to our car