- Palomar Mountain is located 35 miles east of Oceanside off Highway 76. County Road S6 (South Grade Road) leads to Palomar Observatory and two Forest Service campgrounds. County Road S7 (East Grade Road) leads to Palomar Mountain State Park.
The Observatory is owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology and houses four telescopes. The observatory is open to the public 9 AM to 4 PM daily for a self-guided tour of the 100-inch telescope.
At the nearby Fry Creek and Observatory Campgrounds you can camp under evergreens and oak trees. The 2.1-miles Observatory Trail begins at the east end of the Observatory Campground and ends at the Observatory.
To the north, the main access to the Agua Tibia Wilderness is the Dripping Springs Trail (about 6.8 miles long), part of approximately 25 miles of pathways in the wilderness.
The best time to hike is from late autumn through early spring. The rest of the year temperatures can reach as high was 100 degrees F during the summer months.
Most visitors enjoy hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding. Tent, RV and group camping, along with several picnic areas comprise the recreation options found on Palomar Ranger District.
Forest visitors on the San Bernardino, Cleveland, Angeles and Los Padres National Forests of Southern California are required to purchase an Adventure Pass and display it on their vehicle when parked in the Forest. The cost is $5 per day or $30 per year and can be purchased in any Forest Service office or over 350 businesses throughout Southern California.
The Palomar Ranger District is located in the center of the Cleveland National Forest North of Ramona on the east side of Interstate 15.
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