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Julian, California: A Town Where You Can Get The Best Pie, Pickles, and Hikes

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

Julian pie company sign and building in Julian California

Julian California is a world-famous (more California famous) town known for having delicious apple pies, but what most people don't know is that they also have the best spicy pickles ever! Plus, some pretty good hikes, my favorite being Volcan Mountain. This town is a great stop on the way to San Diego or as a day trip from the city.

In this post, I'd like to give some tips on what to do and see around the town of Jullian, how to navigate the Volcan Mountain hike, and where to get the best pie slice in town. Plus the secret bonus of the best spicy pickles on the planet!



The Volcan Mountain Hike

Volcan Mountain wilderness preserve sign in Julian California

Volcan Mountain trail is a pretty easy hike just outside of the town of Julian and the perfect way to start your day in the area. It took us about 2.5 hours to complete and the elevation can get to you so just take your time and soak up the beautiful views. On this hike, not only do you get to see across a California mountain range but on a crisp clear day, you can see all the way out to the ocean!

A few tips for this trail:

- It can get snowy in the winter, so you may need microspikes and poles (if it has rained in San Diego, it's snowing in the mountains of Julian so be prepared)

- In the summer there is not a lot of cover from the sun (bring a hat, extra sunscreen, and water for preparation)

- This trail can get very windy because of the open vistas and altitude, so hold on to your belongings near the top

- If you want a slightly different route on the way down you can take the Five Oaks trail

-it's a small offshoot trail that follows and comes back to the Volcan Mountain Trial

- This mountain is also in the "six pack of peaks challenge" of San Diego county

- a hiking challenge that gets you to hike all 6 mountains in San Deigo



The Town of Julian California

Julian is a quaint little mountain town, with antique stores, small museums, and of course pie shops. While there are a ton of options on where to grab your slice of famous apple pie I highly suggest Apple Alley Bakery. While the other shops have huge lines out the door, this shop rarely does, not because it's not as good, but because it's slightly more hidden than the others. They also have more variety in their pie selection from apple mango to apple boysenberry to caramel apple pecan, all of which are absolutely amazing!

A couple more things to do around the town is to check out Eagle Mining Co., an old goldmine that you can tour and even pan for your own gold. You can also go see Lake Cuyamaca, a beautiful spot for fishing, hiking, and boating. While you have to pay to park down at the water by the tackle shop, you can park on the side of the road for free and on the opposite side of the lake where the trails are.

If you're looking for a good place to stop for a drink I suggest driving just out of the main strip of Julian to find Nickel Beer Co., they are less busy than any of the places right in town, have fantastic craft beer, and the best part of all is their garlic spicy pickles!! Seriously, this is the secret spot, you have to try these pickles, you will never want a normal pickle ever again!



Starting with hiking Volcan Mountain, grabbing some pie and beer in town, then checking out the lake before heading home, makes for a great day in Julian, California. I hope you enjoy this little SoCal adventure as much as I did! I love every time I come out to Jullian for the day as a small trip out of San Diego, it's always such a treat!

As always, feel free to ask me any questions or let me know what else you've done in the area, I'm always happy to hear from you. You can comment below, DM me on Instagram, or Email me.

Also, if you have time to go a bit further East, and are looking for more sightseeing, I highly suggest checking out the Salton Sea, and the Galleta Meadows desert sculptures. They are absolutely worth the drive.

Until next time,

Happy Trails!

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Hey there! My name is Hannah Smentkowski, I'm the photographer, writer, hiker, camper, and craft beer drinker of this blog!


Here, I share my travel, camping, and hiking tips to help anxious explorers get outdoors with confidence!

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