Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
Oak trees and conifers peppered with outcrops of granite and sandstone are the defining features of this 25,000-acre park, which preserves the legacies of local Native American culture and of a late-19C gold rush that brought renown to this relatively remote region of San Diego County. Local Kumeyaay Indians camped in this region until a hay ranch was established in the mid-19C. Southern California's largest gold rush occurred in the region between 1869 and 1880; one of the area's wealthiest sources, the Stonewall Mine, gave rise to a bustling company town on the banks of Lake Cuyamaca. In 1923 retired Detroit businessman Ralph Dyar purchased Rancho Cuyamaca, dismantled the mine and the town structures, and built the rustic stone cabin that now houses the park headquarters. Ownership of the ranch was transferred to the state in 1933.Exhibits in the Cuyamaca Indian Museum (in park headquarters) recount local history from the perspective of a young Kumeyaay woman; a short trail continues the narrative, explaining uses of local plants as it leads to a Kumeyaay village site. Near the entrance to the Stonewall Mine ruins (3.5mi north of headquarters), a re-created miner's shack interprets the history of the late-19C gold rush. More than 110mi of foot and equestrian trails lace the park's meadows, forests, streams and diverse plant communities.