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Sheephead Mountain


Location: San Diego County, about 19 miles southeast of Julian, 167 miles from Los Angeles, 55 miles from San Diego


Auto Club: San Diego County
Forest Service: Cleveland National Forest
USGS Topo: Mount Laguna 7½
HPS: Route(s), waypoints and explanation of usage

Nearby Peaks: Garnet Mountain, Garnet Peak, Monument Peak #1, Cuyapaipe Mountain

Printable version of this route (northern)
Printable version of this route (southern)


(USFS Adventure Pass required)
Distance: 3.5 miles round trip on road and cross-country
Gain: 1000' total, 700' out plus 300' on return
Time: 2-3 hours round trip
Rating: Class 1, moderate

Original: Bruce Collier, January 1967


(SR 78 and Escondido approach)

  • Take I-5 south to SR 78 in San Diego County.
  • Go east on SR 78 through Escondido to the junction with SR 79 just past the town of Julian. Turn right (south) on SR 79.
  • Go 6 miles to the junction with Sunrise Highway (S1) on the left. Turn left. Note your odometer and go as follows:
  • At 7.4 miles, a paved road on the left with a sign "Kwaaymii Point". This is the turnoff for Garnet Mountain. Keep straight.
  • At 9.9 miles a parking area at a gated dirt road on the left. This is the trailhead for Garnet Peak. Keep straight.
  • At 11.4 miles, Laguna Campground entrance. Keep straight.
  • At 12.7 miles, parking area on the left. This is the trailhead for Monument Peak #1. Keep straight.
  • At 15.1 miles, a dirt road on the left just past the Red-Tailed Roost Volunteer Activity Center. This is the turnoff for Cuyapaipe Mountain. Keep straight.
  • At 17.1 miles, Kitchen Creek Road (paved) on the left, milepost 20.7. Turn left.
  • Continue another 1.5 miles to a gated dirt road on the right. Park in the wide area to the left.

(I-8 and San Diego approach)

  • Take I-8 east from San Diego to the Sunrise Highway (S1), about 40 miles from the junction of I-8 and I-805.
  • Go left (north) on S1 at the top of the off-ramp about 4 miles to Kitchen Creek Road (paved) on the right, milepost 20.7. Turn right.
  • Continue another 1.5 miles to a gated dirt road on the right. Park in the wide area to the left.


  • From the parking area (5560'), pass the gate and hike along a badly eroded dirt road keeping left at a fork to where you find a private property sign just short of a junction with Kitchen Creek Road.
  • Leave the road on the left side and hike cross-country a short distance until you meet Kitchen Creek Road where it exits the private property. You are skirting around the left side of the private property.
  • Turn left on Kitchen Creek Road and follow it a short distance to a gate which is padlocked and posted Private Property - No Trespassing. Beyond the gate, the road appears to cross the boundary between USFS and private property several times although it is mostly on public land. All of the ascent trail is on public land.
  • Continue down the road another 1/4 mile to a wash on the right which comes down on the east side of the peak. This wash is just north of the prominent broad ridge coming down from the summit.
  • Turn into this wash and follow a use trail up the wash. Soon this clipped use trail leaves the wash and winds its way up the slope to the summit. Use the clipped use trail to avoid the brush.


Kitchen Creek Road is often closed in the winter months. In this case park at the locked gate and hike into the parking area described above. This adds about 3 miles to the round trip distance.

The ranchers in this area are very sensitive about hikers and hunters during the fall months. It is best to plan trips to this peak at other times of the year.


This area was formerly an Indian area of great importance. Some of the forest lease ranches in the area have been occupied for more than 70 years, dating back to the time when mining was the major activity of the area.

History of Summit Signature

Climbing Archives

Please report any corrections or changes to the Mountain Records Chair.

Hundred Peaks Section, Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club
Published 7-December-2005
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