Just wandering through Southern California doing a bit of work stuff and taking in some hikes when possible. We've traveled and hiked extensively in SoCal and Arizona and I must say I've never encountered so many damn snakes as we did while taking in some short, moderate trails east of San Diego near Escondido.
This area has snakes, lots of them and they're bloody nasty buggers too. There's Rubber Boa's, Racer's, Gopher snakes (all non venomous) and several species of Rattlesnakes, most commonly the Western Rattler and the Sidewinder.
On this trip up Iron Mtn (9.0 km return), some 20 km east of San Diego, the snakes were out in force. Two rattlers were narrowly avoided but despite our caution, my wife stepped on a 3 1/2' Gopher snake lying just under a rock on the trail. They're not posionous but can bite and this fella was darn good and ready to. Thank goodness for my hiking pole. The snake slithered to the trail edge where i got a decent pic of him.
Other than the reptile threat, Iron Mountain is pleasant enough, short jaunt up a local small mountain affording good views, fresh air and some interesting semi-desert ecology.
Iron mountain is extremely popular with locals for both fitness reasons and the fact that its so close to San Diego. It's a worthy trek if you're in the area. Here's a shot of the peak in the distance
The trail winds it's way up the hill with almost no shade along its entire path. Take water, wear a hat and use a hiking pole to tap the ground ahead of you to alert snakes of your presence.
Along the way you'll see this 'helipad' sign which directs the hiker to an emergency heli-vac pad not far off the trail. Why, you ask, is there an emergency heli-vac pad so close to a heavily used urban area trail? Good question, so I asked a local volunteer who said every year lots of people are evac'ed for a) dehaydration b) broken ankles, torn knee ligaments etc... yes, the trail is a rocky, unforgiving surface and c) snake bites
At the summit, if the day is clear (ours was not) you'll get some good views and a fresh breeze
Not a spectacular place but a worthy local scamper, snakes notwithstanding.