Descanso Ranger District

District Ranger

Kyle Smith



Dispersed Camping?

Yes, outside Laguna Recreation Area with permit

Hidden Gem

The Big Laguna Trail

Fun Fact

Descanso in Spanish means "Rest"


Hours of Operation

3348 Alpine Blvd. Alpine, CA 91901

Monday through Friday 8:00am to 4:30pm

District Email


The Descanso District of the Cleveland National Forest extends five miles from the Mexican border northward approximately 20 miles to Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and is the furthest southern district in California. The wild shrub and tree-covered mountains are remnants of a landscape that at one time covered most of Southern California, as the settling of missions, towns, cities, and suburbs scaled back much of the dense growth. The Descanso Ranger District is a haven for many species of plants and wildlife such as mountain lions, bobcats, mule deer, coyotes, gray foxes, ringtail cats, long tail weasels, opossum, blacktail jackrabbits, desert cottontails, California ground squirrels, and a variety of plants.


The centermost Descanso attribute is Mount Laguna, which boasts a large recreation area suitable for horseback riding, mountain biking, running and hiking trails. This area also receives annual snowfall of up two feet at times during the winter. Starting at the south end in Hauser Canyon and passing along through the north end of Mount Laguna runs the Pacific Crest Trail, a popular hiking choice for the serious backpacker. The Southern portion of the district also hosts a large Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) area known as Corral Canyon, which provides OHV's with recreation opportunities.


Wildfires happen frequently in this area and often spread to neighboring communities quickly due to the high volatility of chaparral in the area, rough terrain and local weather factors.