Photo Credit: russ
The Laguna Mountain Recreation area is located in the Cleveland National Forest, 50 miles east of San Diego. With places at an elevation over 6000 feet, there are some of the highest peaks in in San Diego. On clear days, you can see the Salton Sea 60 miles away to the east, the Pacific Ocean 65 miles to the west, and Mexico to the South. There are plenty of trails, great for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, and the area also allows camping in some places. And for anyone who associates Southern California with warm year round weather and great beaches, a trip up the mountains will give you a different perspective, as there is often snow in the winter.
The quickest and easiest way to get to the Mount Laguna area from San Diego is on Interstate 8. From San Diego head east and get off the Sunrise Highway exit. The go north on the Sunrise Highway and after about 10 minutes or so you will be in the heart of the mountains. You will see a lodge and a general store, and one of the two campgrounds will be right there too. This is also the location of the visitor center.
If you are coming from the north, the easiest way would be to get to Interstate 8, even though you will have to backtrack to go back north. If you try to go the quickest way by the map, although scenic, it will take much longer. The roads coming from have a lots of twists and turns, and are a pain to drive after many miles.
Parking anywhere in the park requires display of an Adventure Pass. The pass can be obtained at the Visitor's Center (and several other locations) for $5 a day, or $30 for a year pass.