Explore the county’s backcountry by traversing Julian’s Volcan Mountain

A quick drive from downtown Julian, hikers can experience the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve on a roughly five-mile hike with scenic views and shady oak trees.

Located within the nearly 3,000-acre nature preserve, the majority of this moderate hike follows a wide dirt trail with a steady incline. It’s an out-and-back, however if hikers prefer to do a shortened, roughly 2-mile loop, they can take the Five Oaks Trail, which winds through an oak forest with views of Julian’s rolling hills below.

If hikers take the direct Volcan Mountain Trail, be advised that it’s exposed to the sun, so sun protection — and planning the hike for a cooler day — is recommended. There are some benches along the way to rest as well.

To get to the trailhead, drive north on Julian’s Main Street, which turns into Farmer Road. After two miles, turn right onto Wynola Road, then turn onto Farmer Road again after another few miles. Park on Farmer Road, alongside an apple orchard, and walk up to the trailhead via the gravel road on the right.

Begin walking up the gravel road, which will soon turn to dirt.

Hikers will soon reach an intersection, with the Five Oaks Trail on their right. There is a sign with information about the trail and its development.

This reporter chose to follow the Five Oaks Trail. It begins under oak trees and is mostly flat, though there are some inclined sections to take breaks as needed. The trail eventually reaches the top of a hillside and becomes more exposed to the sun.

After about a mile, hikers will come to a trail marker connecting the main Volcan Mountain Trail with the Five Oaks Trail.

Here, hikers have three options: they can continue to the top of Volcan Mountain, return down the Five Oaks Trail or return to their car via the Volcan Mountain Trail, which would make this hike a loop and is what this reporter chose to do.

Whichever they choose, it’s recommend on a pleasant day to stop for a snack under an oak tree before continuing on.

This preserve is home to various animals like the Southern Pacific Rattlesnake, mountain lion, mule deer and the Coast Horned Lizard, so keep an eye out for these critters. Note that the hike is located next to Volcan Mountain Winery for hikers who want a beverage after their adventure.