William Heise County Park


Location: Julian (57 Miles / 1.25 Hours Northeast of Downtown San Diego)

Open Daily: Dawn – Dusk

Cost: $3

Features: Good Place for a Hike with Mountain and Desert Views

william-heiseWilliam Heise County Park Highlights: Most visitors to the historic town of Julian like to enjoy a hike in the local mountains before strolling down main street and eating the famous apple pie at local restaurants. There is an abundance of trails in the surrounding Cleveland National Forest and Cuyamaca State Park. However, many of the trails that afford both mountain and desert views requires hikers to be in good shape. For those looking for a shorter hike that is close to Julian, the William Heise County Park is the answer.


There are several hiking trails at the Park, which is 5 miles southeast of the historic town of Julian. The trails range from a half mile to nearly six miles long. The 2.25 mile Desert View Trail provides the best view of both the mountains and desert. It is a fairly steep trail taking you up 900 feet to an altitude of 4,939 feet. The trailhead sign will recommend you hike it in a clockwise manner. When you reach the top at Glen’s View, you will see a view finder showing Coronado is 40 miles to the southwest and the Salton Sea is 45 miles to the east.

view-finderYou can print the Hiking Trail Map and take it along for your trip but it is best to get a park brochure once you arrive for better details. There are trail makers but you should rely on the map to help you avoid veering off onto one of the adjacent trails. One confusing spot is when the Desert View Trail meets the Canyon Oak Trail. The only Desert View Trail sign points you back down the hill you just climbed. Instead, you will ‘leave the Desert View Trail’ for a few minutes as you climb up the Canyon Oak Trail until it reaches the next part of the Desert View Trail.

If you want a simple hike with a nice view, walk up the Self-Guided Nature Trail until it meets the Desert View Trail coming down from Glen’s View. Just before that intersection, you’ll find a bench where you can sit and enjoy a panoramic view of a nearby mountainside covered in pine trees.


The 1,000 acre Park used to be a dense pine forest until wildfires swept through the area. You will still see dense pine forest when you look southeast. However, as you look north, you will see some remnants of the fires and plenty of  new vegetation coming to life.

Be sure to keep your eyes open for deer and turkeys that roam through the Park. You will also see hawks and turkey vultures flying overhead.


Over 100 camp sites, including cabins, are available for those who want to spend the night. Overnight fees range from $15 – $45. For more information, visit the William Heise County Park web site.

Information on Visiting William Heise County Park

Day Use Fee: Bring some dollar bills. When the park attendant is not available, you will fill out an envelope with your car information and submit your day use fee through a mail slot.

Directions from Google Maps to Frisius Drive and Pine Hills Road, just south of Julian, CA 92036. (Follow signs on Frisius Drive heading east less than 2 miles from the intersection.)

Traffic – Daytime travel to Julian is relatively easy. After leaving San Diego on highways, the last 15-20 minutes of your trip will take place on curvy and hilly two-lane roads. The roads are generally wide enough to make it a comfortable drive for most drivers, despite the winding roads that take you through the Cleveland National Forest and into the mountains. (You will climb to about 4,000 feet above sea level.) Traffic is a little slower during the busier months of September and October but it still moves along quite well. Also, keep an eye out for possible mountain snow in the forecast, when tire chains may be required to get into Julian.

Transit – There are no regularly scheduled transit options that get you to Julian.

Find More Attractions with Similar Themes or Location: Hiking, Julian, Parks - Local, State & National, Scenic Views |

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