Sierra Club Cabin before.

The cabins scattered about the Mt Laguna area of the Cleveland National Forest are part of the Recreation Residence Program of the National Forest Service (USFS).

On this page:

  • Cabin Owner Resources
  • USFS Recreation Residence Program
  • Weather and Road conditions
  • General Cabin Guidelines

Cabin Owner Resources

  • Fire Safety Defensible Space: As cabin owners it our responsibility to make our cabins FIRE SAFE by creating 100′ of Defensible Space. There is an annual inspection of the grounds surrounding your cabin that occurs typically in early June.  Click on Fire Safe Council for complete cabin fire safety information both outside (fuel reduction) and inside (fireplace safety).
  • Cabin Water and Winterization: The MLIA provides water for all cabin owners. You will receive an annual bill in October. Payment help is also on this page, as are “winterization” tips.
  • Forest Service: Scroll down this page for more information about the Recreation Residence permit program and who to contact for what.
  • MLIA Newsletter: The MLIA issues a delightful and informative newsletter quarterly with the latest goings on. You’ll receive it in your email, and can browse back issues here.
  • National Forest Homeowners Association: Your annual water bill includes membership in this important advocacy association. They also have a great Q&A message board.
  • Cabin Crimes: While it is not common to see crimes on the mountain, if you need help, Mount Laguna is covered by the Pine Valley Sheriff Station (Contacts)
  • Cabin Septic System: Since our cabins are on Federal land, there are many rules regarding leech field and septic tanks. This is the current process for requesting maintenance approval.
  • Hazard Tree Removal: Owning a cabin in a National Forest has different rules regarding tree removal that, say, your local HOA. Read this carefully and contact the USFS if you have a hazard tree.
  • Local Businesses servicing Mt Laguna: There are many contractors, and other businesses that service Mt Laguna.  Please support our local businesses
  • More helpful contacts

USFS Recreation Residence Program

Residence Permits

Links to the “Term Special Use Permit for Recreation Residences” are included here for cabin owner information. These permit examples are generic permits not specific to any one cabin in the Cleveland National Forest. They list the Forest Service requirements necessary to obtain and maintain a permitted cabin on Forest Service land. Click on Forest Service Residence for the blank permit form. The National Forest Homeowners Association has a link to an Example USFS Permit.

All cabin exterior changes are subject to rules governed by the permit – here is some guidance on exterior paint colors.

Historic Cabin Requirements

Cabin owners have to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act if we want to make any exterior changes to our cabins. All cabins over 50 years old are subject to evaluation for historical significance. That means that all exterior improvements must be evaluated and approved by the Forest Service and the State Historical Society. In addition, the status of the historic evaluations varies from region to region. Cabin evaluations for historic relevance have been completed in some tracts, while in others the process is just underway. This requirement isn’t new; it was formalized in 2014.  The Forest Service process needs to be followed for any changes a cabin owner wants to make. For complete USFS information click on “Historic Residence Guide.”

USFS Contacts

  • District Ranger Descanso District
  • Recreation and Lands
    • Officer: Samuel Orozco, 619-445-6235 ext. 3418
    • Assistant Officer: Mia Somenek,  Cell: 619-916-7523, Office: 619-445-6235 x3435, [email protected]
    • General cabin questions, recreation facilities use
  • Recreation Residence Permit Administrator
    • Andrew Cheskaty, [email protected] (619) 445-6235 ext. 3453
    • Cabin sale or transfer, permits, construction or improvements, billing and payments. permission to remove dead or hazardous trees     
  • Law Enforcement


Mount Laguna primary roads are maintained by the San Diego County road department. In the winter, Sunrise Highway is regularly plowed as are major access roads such as Los Huecos Rd. During heavy or prolonged snow, chains may be required to come up Sunrise Highway from Highway 8. This is determined by the Highway Patrol. Four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles are recommended when snow conditions are present.

Cabin driveways are maintained by the cabin owners located on those driveways. During winter, snow may block vehicle access along some cabin driveways and alternate access may be necessary. For some cabins, no cabin access is available during recent and heavy snows. See Contacts page to for more useful links

Weather Updates

The most accurate and reliable weather information is on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website. Click NOAA and enter “Mount Laguna, CA” into the “Find Your Local Weather” Search box in the upper right portion of the Home page.

General Cabin Guidelines

Please also note the following:

  1. All cabin owners are required to have cabin numbers displayed in plain sight and large enough to read from a distance.
  2. The rodents indigenous to the mountain area enjoy “playing” in the water meter boxes. Please assist in keeping the boxes adequately covered or cleared. It helps to line the bottom with hardware cloth.
  3. To prevent break-ins, be sure to properly secure your cabins and store or remove all valuables. Sheriff’s Pine Valley Substation (619-938-8400) may be contacted regarding any peculiar circumstances or persons in the area. The Border Patrol Campo Station may be contacted at (619- 938-8700). Remember, the best defense is neighborhood watch – extend a good neighbor policy to the cabin owners around you. The cabin saved from burglary might be your own!!
  4. FIRE DANGER – the number one concern. Please support the local FIRE SAFE COUNCIL in their effort to reduce this major threat to our cabins. PLEASE ADVISE ANY GUESTS NO OUTDOOR CAMPFIRES OR CHARCOAL GRILLS ARE ALLOWED at YOUR CABIN!!!
  5. Reminder from Dept. of Animal Control – dogs are to be licensed & restrained properly – all San Diego county codes apply on Mt. Laguna. Dogs must be on leash at all times (no matter how well trained).