• Hannah Smentkowski

If You Like Pie, Pickles, and Hiking, Check Out Julian California

Julian pie company sign and building in Julian California

Julian California is world-famous for its delicious apple pies, but little do people know that they also have the best spicy pickles and some pretty good hikes too. My favorite being Volcan Mountain, it's relatively easy and gives great views over mountains and out to the ocen.

In this post, I'd like to give some tips on the Volcan Mountain hike and what else to see around Julian. Also, where to get the best pie and spicy pickles on the planet!

The Volcan Mountain Hike


Volcan Mountain wilderness preserve sign in Julian California

- This hike is 5 miles long, 1200ft elevation gain, and took us about 2.5 hours

-with the elevation gain it can be pretty steep heading towards the top of the trail

- It can get snowy in the winter, so you may need microspikes and poles

-FYI: if it's raining in San Diego, it's snowing in the mountains

- Be prepared in the summer, as there is not a lot of cover from the sun

- Near the top, there is a great view all the way to the ocean on a good clear day

-it can also be very windy

- The other side of the trail has amazing views over the mountain range

- 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 get's you to hike all 6 mountains in San Deigo


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, 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. I hope you enjoy this little adventure as much as I did and 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.

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

Until next time,

Happy Travels!