Paso Picacho is a pretty sweet location as far as campgrounds go. Only two miles from Lake Cuyamaca down below, several of the park’s most popular...
If you value your personal space, Green Valley Campground will probably be your favorite. Its campsites are the most spaced out in the park.
We love Cuyamaca in the spring. Always stay at Paso Picacho and visit Green Valley during the day. The short hike to the creek is great and lots of fun to cool off in the water, but staying at Green Valley looks rough. Not much shade and out in the open. Paso, on the other hand, is much woodsier. Bathrooms are well maintained. Bring quarters. Sites range from amazing (secluded and just the right balance of shade and sun) to barren squirrel infested wasteland. The sites get renumbered pretty often, so it's a bit of a coin toss. Still, we go every year. Good for kids and they're not too strict about noise- as we prefer.
Stayed here for two nights. Pretty basic campground with some nice trees. For local San Diego camping it was decent. The area we were in was very smokey and dusty. We had a tough time with the air as the wind wasn't blowing. Once we drove over to the lake it was much nicer. Campground itself is fine if you aren't sensitive to smoke.
The ancestors of today’s Kumeyaay Indians occupied the Cuyamaca mountains from antiquity into the historic period. Their village sites are located throughout the state park, including Ah-ha’
Kwe-ah-mac’ (”what the rain left behind”), Iguai’ (“the nest”), Wa-Ku-Pin’ (“warm house”), Mitaragui’ (“crooked land”), Pilcha’ (“basket bush”) and Guatay’ (“big house”). Historic
mention of the Cuyamaca Kumeyaay begins in 1782 when Spanish Lt. Col. Pedro Fages noted that the villagers “approached me very pleasantly and I gave them some beads.” However, the Kumeyaay did not want to give up their independence, and resisted missionization. In 1837 a Mexican expedition attacked the villagers of Ah-ha’ Kwe-ah-mac’ after the Kumeyaay raided two
ranchos to the south, eventually exacting a promise from the Kumeyaay to leave the settlers alone. Augustin Olvera of Los Angeles obtained the Rancho Cuyamaca grant in 1845. Olvera intended to harvest timber but his contractor, Cesario Walker “being afraid of the Indians, who made a kind of revolution, abandoned the place.” By 1857, few Kumeyaay remained. James
Lassator reportedly bought 160 acres in Green Valley from the last hereditary chief of the region. Lassator’s family maintained a home, hay fields and a way-station there, supplying those using the area's early overland trails until after his death in 1865.
The 1869 discovery of gold near today’s town of Julian triggered a brief but frenzied rush to the Cuyamaca mountains. The southernmost and most profitable of the mines was the Stonewall, located south of the Laguna Cuyamaca. By 1872, this profitable hard-rock mine supported a permanent worker’s camp and mill. In 1886 mining entrepreneur and soon-to-be California Governor Robert W. Waterman purchased and expanded the Stonewall’s operations. At its peak from 1886 to 1891, the mine produced over 7,000 pounds of gold while regularly employing 200 men and housing their families at its company town, Cuyamaca City. Financial problems ensued after Waterman’s death, and by 1892 hard-rock mining had ended.