Exploring the Backcountry by Foot

Exploring the Backcountry by Foot

With Julian offering so many activities, it may be difficult to decide where to start. Those looking for an adventure that connects them with nature will find the area’s hiking trails to be more than satisfactory.

There are countless trails worthy of exploration, but one outstanding choice is Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve. With nearly 3,000 acres of mixed forestland, it is certain to offer folks their nature fix. And with a stunning mountain of nearly 5,400 feet in elevation as its focal point, it is likely to attract those looking to get their heart rate up.

The trailhead may be found at 1209 Farmer Rd., at Wynola Road. The start of the trail guides hikers through a stunning gateway created by renowned local artist James Hubbell. It was eventually expanded on by other area artists to create a powerful entrance to the trail.

Though hikers may travel straight to the summit via the main road, a worthwhile deviation is Five Oaks Trail, found just off of the main trail. This 1.18-mile trek brings hikers through oak woodland, chaparral and open meadows, offering sweeping panoramas of the backcountry and the town of Julian. Visitors should note that while the main trail is multiuse, Five Oaks is for hikers only.

You’ll eventually reconnect with the main trail, which will lead you to the summit. The awe-inspiring, uninterrupted views from atop this vantage point are definitely worth the exertion. If you choose to follow the short loop around the summit, you’re sure to notice the drastic contrasting views from west to east, with westerly views offering rolling green foothills, and easterly views opening up into the arid desert landscape of San Felipe Valley. This is a prime example of the “rain shadow effect.”

Many choose to follow the main trail upon their descent, as it offers fewer tripping hazards. The hike totals just over five miles roundtrip and may be considered moderately strenuous in terms of difficulty due to the distance, elevation gain of approximately 1,300 feet and total elevation of the hike.

With impressive views of varying terrain, Volcan Mountain is certainly a hike to remember — and an amazing way to explore the beauty of the backcountry! 

By Angela McLaughlin; Photo by Angela Mclaughlin