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post #1 of (permalink) Old 01-13-2018, 02:15 AM Thread Starter
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Default Hiking in San Diego

When one thinks of San Diego, it is usually in terms of beaches, San Diego Zoo, Seaworld etc. But there is also good hiking in San Diego County. Starting point is excellent Jerry Schad's "Afoot and Afield in San Diego County" hiking guidebook, now in 5th edition I believe. It is same level as 103 Hikes on BC Coast or Kananaskis Trails over in Alberta.

Like his older brother Hiking in Sedona this thread will try to aggregate some hiking trails in greater San Diego area. I lived here 1999 - 2004 and over the course of years had chance to explore the area to large extent. At that time I was not on CT or treating my hiking in systematic fashion; now as I'm spending few weeks in the area I will try to partially rectify this mistake. I won't have time to even partially cover everything there is, but hopefully give an idea to interested CT member / visitor and provide some photography. Anything I don't include you might have heard, or are interested in -- just ask; chances are I'll have the info. Pleasant reading!
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 01-13-2018, 02:38 AM Thread Starter
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Trail #1: Mt. Woodson

Mt. Woodson is highest in Poway. Interesting enough, even if I lived here 6 years, I've been up only once. Not sure why because views across entire San Diego County are simply superb! Trailhead is at Lake Poway -- popular inland recreation and fishing spot. There is abundant bird life and superb hiking trail circumventing the lake; it is worth visiting just for this! Here is the shot from the parking lot -- note swarm of black ducks frolicking on sandy beach in front of boat launch:

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[Lake Poway at trailhead. Mt. Woodson is highest point across the lake, just right of center. Note large pelican flying above! I didn't see it while taking photo, only now at when I downloaded photos to computer!]

Wide trail follows the south side of the lake rising to excellent viewpoint, then drops to junction with Mt. Woodson trail. This junction is 0.9 miles from the parking. From here it is 2.9 miles to the summit with fair amount of elevation (~500m vertical, sorry for mixing metric and imperial, after living in Canada and US for long time its became kinda transparent).

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[Nice view back of Lake Poway from Mt. Woodson trail above the junction. You don't get many days that are so clear in San Diego County due to ever present smog and air pollution issues -- that are still not as bad as in LA area]

Trail is easy to follow. There are several junctions, but they are all marked. Trail switchbacks to intercept summit ridge, then turns sharp right and heads towards the summit. (It is worth doing side visit to viewpoint near Fry Koegel junction).

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[Mt. Woodson summit ridge; takes about 30 minutes from here]

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[Interesting rock features ascending the final part]

Wide summit plateau hosts paraphernalia of man-made structures; telecommunication towers. There is paved road on the other side that descends to Hwy 67 (Ramona road). Just before the summit you come to famous "Potato Chip Rock" -- of course all kind of human monkeys are always present (I half expect it to eventually break at some point):

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[Potato Chip Rock]

360 Summit views are expansive and if you are lucky to have a clear day you can see south across to Baja California, north towards (always smoggy and dirty) LA, east to Cuyamaca (highest in San Diego County) and of course west towards Pacific Ocean and San Diego beaches. Here is one pano worth sharing:

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[Summit Pano looking west. Note coastal eddy ('marine layer') advancing from Pacific. Pretty soon it engulfed belt of ~10 miles from the coast and as I was driving back there was layer of Fog that would make London look bright and clear]

Trail is rated "difficult" but it is really quite easy. About 4 miles (1 way) and ~650m vertical. I took 3 hours (return) but I was going pretty fast; more relaxed pace, suggest to enjoy this nice area, would take 4-5 hours. GPS Map:
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Last edited by zeljkok; 01-13-2018 at 02:41 AM.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 01-18-2018, 01:27 AM Thread Starter
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Trail #2: Bayside Trail -- Point Loma

Pacific Coast communities bear large degree of similarity, regardless of country. In Vancouver you walk in Stanley Park to Prospect Point or around the seawall, pass by lighthouses and read how George Vancouver discovered what is today Burrard Strait and sailed through First Narrows. In San Diego you go to Point Loma, visit Cabrillo National Monument and read how Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped into history as the first European to set foot on what is now the West Coast of the United States. You visit the Lightouse and Cabrillo Monument, enjoying sweeping views of Coronado Peninsula and San Diego Bay. After all the tourist staff, there is still some hiking to do. Neat little "Bayside Trail" -- really old deactivated military road, about 3km return, that descends gradually on the east side. It does not connect with the beach, but views are amazing throughout!! There are also exhibits and artifacts of the past -- World War II bunkers and different relics. There is also option to visit famous Tidal Pools on the other (west) side, facing Pacific Ocean. Bit of beach-combing on low tide -- but don't expect solitude. Photo story:

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[Point Loma Lighthouse. Must visit, with lots of cool narrative and exhibits inside!]

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[Cabrillo Monument looking south towards Mexican coast]

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[Bayside Trail descending towards east side of Point Loma]

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[Sweeping pano taken near the end of Bayside Trail. You can see Coronado peninsula and towards far right it is Tijuana and Mexico already]

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[Tidal pools on west side of Point Loma. It closes at 5 pm, so you can't stay to take sunset shots which is too bad]

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[Naval Cemetary on Cabrillo Road at sunset]


If you are in San Diego, Point Loma is must visit. At the end of the day top it off with drive to Sunset Cliffs for what is probably best sunset spot in all of San Diego.

Last edited by zeljkok; 01-18-2018 at 01:32 AM.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 01-18-2018, 01:57 PM
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Great few posts and awesome pictures. Looks like very different terrain than anywhere I've hiked. Keep the reports coming!

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post #5 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2018, 03:10 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you; I guess main message is that there is hiking everywhere - mountains, canyons,desert or ocean. Just get out and hike

Re Sunset Cliffs bit of extra info: most people will come here, park their car, watch sunset and turn back. But there is some good hiking here too, and not entirely hands in pockets. If you drive to end where road turns just before Sunset Cliffs park (plenty of parking on side streets), there are (steep, narrow) stairs that drop down the cliffs to the water. Quite popular with surfers! Then, going south, there is couple of kilometers of awesome beach walking! Degree of difficulty depends on tide level. (On high tide it is probably impassable). Easy stretches of sand walking are alternating with rock hops and balancing on slippery sea weed covered rocks. Some amazing caverns and different colored sandstone! Couple of spots are definitely in realm of scrambling. Coastal eddy that often moves in by early afternoon tends to disappear ~1 hr before sunset, leaving the shore in beautiful colors. And of course the sunsets that are terrific and showcase how the area got its name. Highly recommended!

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Looking back after initial easy part; the stairs are by cliffs in the distance

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Sunset at trickiest bit; you have to walk around that rock on the left, ledge eventually peters out on the other side and you must downclimb slippery rock washed by constant waves. This bit is likely non-passable on high tide. It eases again on the other side and reverts to more sand beach walking.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 01-21-2018, 12:43 AM Thread Starter
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Trail #3: Blue Sky Preserve - Lake Ramona / Lake Poway

Blue Sky Preserve Trailhead is on Espola Road, about 1km north from Lake Poway turnoff. This is terrific area that offers year-round enjoyment. There are hiking / biking / equestrian trails. Main artery is old dirt road that meanders through some shaded oaks and sycamores, then about 1 mile from trailhead comes to junction. Lake Poway right, Lake Ramona keep straight ahead. Lake Ramona is less frequently hiked; entire ascent is on the road and gains ~200 vertical in about 1.5 miles; takes about 1 hr from Espola trailhead. Once at the crest of the dam you can go either way. Fishermen can usually be seen scattered in small bays. Presumably good fishing, no catch/release and lots of bass. Here is one pic you don't see too often, actually I've never seen it from this angle:

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[Lake Ramona pano. You crest at the dam right side of the picture. Mt Woodson (trail #1 in this thread) is looming above]

There are tons of neat rock formations in this area; here's one that caught my eye:

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[Looks like Rapa Nui on Easter Island!]

On return back to Poway/Ramona junction, it is worth heading up to Lake Poway. Trail splits just past the back-country campground. Many options are possible; if you have never been to Lake Poway, it is best to do a loop perhaps going clockwise. Lake Poway is beautiful and I spent many weekends here in my San Diego days so it was homecoming of a sort. Too bad they close it so early in winter (5pm).

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[Lake Poway Sunset]
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 01-25-2018, 11:17 PM Thread Starter
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Trail #4: Iron Mountain

Iron Mountain is a personal favorite. It used to be (US) Thanxgiving Tradition hike when I lived in San Diego; one of these trails you do once, and for some reason it just "clicks"; you make it your own, and come back over and over (Fantastic 360 views of San Diego County has something to do with it as well). There are 2 trailheads --- first is right at Poway Road junction with Hwy 67 (Ramona Road). You used to just park on the shoulder of 67, but in the meantime, probably due to popularity, City of Poway has built decent size parking lot (including restrooms). Second trailhead is 1km north at Ellie Lane, but most people seem to prefer more direct start from Poway Road. Both can be included for a pleasant loop:

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[Iron Mountain loop hike map; about 13km return and ~550m vertical for 5 hrs]

From Poway trailhead it is about 3 miles and ~300 vertical to the summit; takes just over an hour. It was pleasantly reassuring to see I haven't lost pace compared to first time I went this way, now already 19 years ago (hard to believe, where does time go???). In summer this hike is very hot as temps reach 90 - 100 degrees F, there is no shade and no water either. There is heat advisory warning right of the bat; I think they just leave it there year-round, as it was really pleasant hiking weather ~22 Celsius and very little proverbial smog/haze:

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[Iron Mountain Trailhead at end of Poway Road]

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[Start of Iron Mountain Trail. Summit is to the right. Way is obvious -- hike to saddle (low "V" left of center) in the distance, turn sharp right and follow well defined and wide trail to the summit]


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[Trail table at the saddle. There used to be "Iron Mountain base camp" sign here but they took it off. It is about 30mins from here to the summit. Longer option via Ellie Lane and my return is to the left]

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[Wide Panoramic View back as I started ascending the north ridge. Ramona is to the left, and you can see Cuyamaca looming in the distance right]

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[Another pano, near the summit. Worth studying for a bit. You can see Black mountain far left; Pacific ocean in the distance behind. Just left of center is Lake Hodges and Bernardo Mountain. Mid left foreground is the parking; you can see lower part of the trail. Right of center in foreground is Mt. Woodson (Hike #1 in this thread), and finally far right in the background are hills above Riverside leading towards San Yacinto]

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[Picnic bench just a bit below the summit on west side, looking south towards Mexico]

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[Summit views south towards Mexico]

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[Picnic bench right at the summit; it is hard to see it empty like this as this is popular trail. Mt. Woodson right of center distance]


Coming down I had strong feeling this was the last time I was hiking here in my life, for reason I could not clearly explain; so I was very grateful for fantastic conditions, probably best ever. Highly recommended for moderate half-day hike in San Diego North County Inland.
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Last edited by zeljkok; 01-25-2018 at 11:22 PM.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 01-27-2018, 06:01 PM Thread Starter
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Trail #5: San Diego Zoo

Hard to call visit to a Zoo "trail", but to actually see everything in a day is quite a hike! Naturally it depends of the pace and how much time you spend at certain exhibits; either way you have to hurry. In winter it is better because there are fewer people; still, there is 10-15 minutes lineup wait at Panda exhibit (I can't imagine what it looks like in summer when Zoo receives 10x more visitors than in winter). There are couple of buses that take you around (narrated) and aerial tram, but I didn't bother. Take your own food!!! (tons of cafes, but as one would expect hugely overpriced. Restrooms are everywhere. Take a map as soon as you cross the gate; it is vital. I suggest heading first right towards Africa Rocks, then work your way back and over. Leave "Children Zoo/Discovery Outpost" for the end as it is not big deal if you miss it. Probably same can be said for Reptile House, unless you are like me and enjoy looking (only looking!) at snakes.

Panda is naturally highlight and what San Diego Zoo is best known for, but for me it was Polar Bear Plunge that stole the show; I was lucky he decided to go for a dive when I was there! Madagascar section is awesome too, then underwater Penguin swim (wow!). Orangutans put up quite a show, although couldn't not compare to Sepilok in Borneo I was lucky to visit several years ago. Tons to see. Looking at animals in captivity makes me a bit sad, but this is more than worth. Couple of highlights:


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Hippo. Surreal. Spends like 5 minutes underwater, still like this, then surfaces to take a breath, and goes back down

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Needs no introduction. On loan and will be going back to China

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Polar Bear taking underwater dive. This did it for me, I've seen polar bears before but not like this.

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Gorilla exhibit was awesome! In general, animal habitats are well made, wide with lots of natural features to make them feel "at home" (if this is possible at all in captivity)

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Malaysian Tiger; awesome exhibit

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Neotropical rattlesnake. (Have some really weird snake photos on memory card, fascinating and scary)

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post #9 of (permalink) Old 02-02-2018, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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Trail #6: Bernardo Mountain


Bernardo Mountain is the most prominent feature west of I-15 on the northern shore of Lake Hodges in Rancho Bernardo. It can be seen from countless lesser peaks in North County. Here is the shot from Lake Hodges hiking trail:

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[Bernardo Mountain across Lake Hodges]

Normal trailhead is at San Dieguito River Park opposite Westfield shopping mall in Escondido; take Rancho Parkway exit off I-15 and immediately turn right past gas station. Drive to the end of this road to small parking lot; if full, there is further parking across the street.

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[San Dieguito River Park entrance off Rancho Parkway]

First part is shared with "Coast to Crest" trail that meanders around lake Hodges. This trail is very popular with cyclists, so be on alert. Initially it parallels I-15, then goes under the bridge and intercepts remnants of old California 395. Here you come to new David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle Pedestrian Bridge, the world's longest stress ribbon bridge, opened to the public in May 2009. The bridge has an inside width of 12 feet and a total length of 990 feet between abutments and is worth stopping for a moment:

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[Lake Hodges Pedestrian Bridge. It makes access to "Coast to Crest" trail feasible from Bernardo Community park on the other side]

After passing nice grove and crossing small creek, you come to marked junction. Coast to Crest continues straight; turn right and start ascent of Bernardo mountain:

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[Trail ascending lower slopes of Bernardo Mountain. It is popular with MTB; be on alert for speedy downhill riders]

Not far from place picture above was taken, I almost stepped on rattlesnake. San Dieguito is well known for rattlers and there are always trailhead signs warning you to be on alert. But it was still early in season and they usually hibernate till mid-March or later, so I was not paying attention as I normally would. It was well camouflaged, blending with dirt trail; in addition I had sunglasses on. Basically I spotted movement as I was lowering my leg; fraction of second later and I'd have come down on it. We both jumped and I stepped back. Staring contest ensued. It was well aware of my existence, constantly probing with tongue. It was young rattlesnake and that explains it -- it still did not "learn" that human/cyclists trails are not good as resting place. It would not move and I didn't feel like walking 40-50 cm next to it -- or bypassing lower in cacti slopes. I could have easily smashed it with a rock, but why?? So I finally grabbed some dirt and pebbles and sprayed it with. This did the trick; it slithered to low shrubs on the other side. It was fascinating watching its head turned towards me, even if it was going in other direction!

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[Young rattler -- can you see it? It is well camouflaged. Pic is cropped]

I was much more on alert for rest of the hike, but no further incidents. Trail loops around on the back side, then switchbacks past the water tank to the summit. There are great 360 views all across North County, but beautiful Lake Hodges steals the spotlight:

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[Lake Hodges and North county from summit of Bernardo Mountain; Mt. Woodson (trail #1 in this thread) is far left]

On descent I went a bit on Coast to Crest to the shoulder for some nice sunset shots of Lake Hodges I spent so many years hiking around:

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[Sunset at Lake Hodges from Coast to Crest Trail]

Stats: ~14km return and ~300m vertical. Highly recommended hike in San Diego County. Map:
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 02-04-2018, 09:45 PM
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Really enjoying your nice sunny pictures......I don’t think we’ve had 2 hours of sun since the middle of December
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 02-07-2018, 01:52 AM Thread Starter
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Trail #7: Mission Trails - Mt. Cowles

Mt. Cowles is highest within greater San Diego city limits. It is part of Mission Trails regional park in suburb of Santee. It is also the most popular -- closest thing San Diego has to Vancouver Grouse Grind. Even the distance is similar -- 1.5 miles (each way). Elevation is different though -- Grind has ~840m elev. gain, while Cowles has about 270m. As result grade is much more mellow, it is also open all the way. But it is still a 'grind' -- you go up and don't stop till you are up. Relentless amount of people -- despite trailhead notes about trail etiquette nobody cares -- boomboxes, dogs off leash, loud talking on cell phone, strollers and who knows what else. Summit views are special though -- unobstructed 360. Mornings might be preferred time as crowds will probably still not be so big. Later it is a mix of recreationalists, yahoos, kids and some tough looking guys doing serious training (running). Do take water (available at trailhead) as it is dry all the way.

There are couple of possible ways up, but I did most popular one -- from "Staging Area" at junction of Navajo and Golfcrest roads. Jerry Schad guidebook describes the alternatives. Amount of smog was huge (much more than Fraser Valley / Chilliwack). Made me think with longing about clean air I enjoy year-round in the Rockies. If first time in Mission Trails, it is worth stopping at Visitor Center along Mission Gorge road; it is fantastic! As you go by exhibits, automatic animal/bird sound kicks in. Better than most National Park visitor centers I've seen. Photo story:

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Mission Trails Table near Visitor Center along Mission Gorge road. Mt. Cowles is upper right

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Tracks: about 1.5miles and 270m vertical from "Staging Area" at junction of Navajo and Golfcrest roads

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This is how trail is all the way up; switchbacks in the dirt, and wood fence to prevent yahoos from making shortcuts

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Despite all the paraphernalia, I managed to see this guy. In winter San Diego is full of all kinds of (snow)birds that come to spend the winter. I didn't have time to look up on the Web -- if anyone knows what this is, please let me know

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1590' high summit of Cowles Mountain

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Pano near summit looking south to Santee and further towards Tijuana / Mexico. Check out layer of smog, thickening towards the right side where TJ is

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Sunset pano, poorly stitched, but I'm including to showcase again amount of smog. Murray lake (still part of Mission Trails park) in the middle.


Check out this very nice narrative with more photos -- made on much clearer day too -- here: http://hikingsdcounty.com/cowles-mou...regional-park/

Last edited by zeljkok; 02-07-2018 at 02:10 AM.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 02-09-2018, 01:01 AM Thread Starter
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Trail #8: Wild Animal Safari Park

Wild Animal Park east of Escondido is an extension of San Diego Zoo. Situated in warm San Pasqual valley, it has abundant sunshine and warm temperatures which was suitable for building African animal habitat that more resembles natural conditions. There is some overlap with the Zoo; in a chat with one of exhibits keepers, I learned they bring them to Safari Park for breeding purposes. Like Zoo, this is not a trail hike -- but you cover fair amount of distance if you want to see everything. Australia Walkabout was closed, but it still takes several hours. There are couple of extras -- most of them cost more than price of admission ticket itself; best one is probably African savanna drive that is closest thing to classic Serengeti Safari you can get in North America. Highlight for me was famous 'Cheetah Run' -- daily at 3:30 pm and make sure you don't miss it!! Story of Ruuxa and Raina -- german dog and cheetah being raised together and becoming best buddies for life:

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I've been in Tanzania / Serengeti, but I've still seen some species I never knew existed before. And then there was elephant habitat: Splashing in the pool, to endless amusement of the visitors. And then something I've never seen in my life: One elephant inserted his trunk into the rear end of his pal, pulled out piece of dung, and put in his mouth. Disbelief in the crowd. I knew animals eat dung, dung of their own species too, but something like this was new. Exhibit keeper that is there every day said it was a first for her too (!). I couldn't resist not asking "Aren't you feeding these animals?". I have photos but they are simply too gross to post.

All in all well worth but it will be ultra hot in summer. Even today, early February, it was probably 90 degrees F. If you decide to visit, it is best to get dual Zoo/Safari pass for 80 something US. (They also offer annual Zoo / Safari Pass for 120 something US). Note that parking for Zoo is free, but for Safari it is 15 US/day. Bring your own food, as restaurants are ultra expensive.

Last edited by zeljkok; 02-09-2018 at 01:10 AM.
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 02-10-2018, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
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Trail #9: Cuyamaca Rancho State Park -- Stonewall Peak

Cuyamaca is what they commonly refer as "mountains" in San Diego. It is high alpine basin transitioning into arid desert climate of Anza Boreggo state park and further east towards Salton Sea. Sitting around 1500m altitude it sometimes even receives snow (not this winter though which has been unusually warm -- I guess all the moisture and cold is up in the Canadian Rockies). Highest point is Cuyamaca Peak at 6512'; from the summit one can see distant Pacific Ocean to the West, and Desert to the east. Paved but winding state road 79 leads through the park from junction with Interstate 8 to mountain village of Julian.

I've climbed Cuyamaca before, and ascent itself is for the most part on old fire road and thus not exciting. In addition, you have to pay day fee ($10 US) at Paso Picacho trailhead in order to park. Opposite Paso Picacho is Stonewall Peak; at ~5700' it is not as high as Cuyamaca, but views are considerably better. In addition, you can have awesome hike through meadows (at times I thought I was in Rockies summer) if you start a bit north from Trout Pond trailhead, where parking is free. Kind Park Ranger at Paso Picacho gave me free brochure and I simply followed network of trails with all junctions being marked, until intercepting Stonewall Peak trail on north side and following to the top. Ascent is gentle and total distance (1 way) is about 4.5 km with about 330m elev. gain. Only towards the top grade gets a bit more steep, and final bit would actually be an exposed scramble if there wasn't for a railing that makes things easy. Summit views are FABULOUS. Photo story:

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[Tracks from Trout Pond trailhead on south side of Cuyamaca Lake]

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[Initial hike through 'prairies' and meadows. Stonewall peak is in upper right corner, and trail approaches via the saddle between main peak and lesser Stonewall, then switchbacks to the top]

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[View back north towards Cuyamaca Lake and Distant San Bernardino Mountains from upper slopes of Stonewall Peak]

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[Final bit -- here you see where 'Stonewall' name comes from. Railing makes it trivial]

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[Summit view east towards Laguna Mountains]

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[Summit pano south towards Mexico and Baja California Peninsula]

I fully recommend Stonewall to anyone. If you are in the area, and have to decide between Cuyamaca and Stonewall, choose Stonewall.
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 02-12-2018, 12:14 AM Thread Starter
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Trail #10: Penasquitos Canyon

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve is large patch of open space that stretches between I-5 and I-15. Creek runs in the middle of the canyon and is vital for preservation of many different plant and animal species that make this area home. Canyon can be accessed from several residential areas along the sides, but main artery runs from Sorrento Valley road on the west and Black Mountain to the east which are 2 principal trailheads. Area is popular with walkers, cyclists, trail runners and even equestrians. It is quite fascinating to be able to step into relative "wilderness" in the middle of urban mess and high-tech Sorrento Valley.

I used to walk in Penasquitos fairly often, as it was close to where I lived and worked. This time I repeated usual routine; parked at Sorrento trailhead, directly below Qualcomm R building where office was, then followed trail for about 3 miles to central part where "the waterfall" is. It is quite serene and pretty; only distraction are frequent military jets from nearby Miramar base (Top Gun anyone). Trails run at both side of the creek, and it is possible to cross at Wagon Wheel which has new bridge and Sycamore Crossing. It is possible to rock-hop by waterfall too for loop of a sort. Couple of photos:

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[Wagon Wheel crossing, about 1 mile from Sorrento Trailhead]

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[Typical section of the trail]

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[Pool collecting under the "waterfall". This is the most scenic part of the canyon]

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[Panoramic view near the mid-part looking east towards Black Mountain]

This is nice leisurely Sunday afternoon walk and well-worth if you are in the area.
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post #15 of (permalink) Old 01-04-2022, 04:02 AM Thread Starter
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January '22

Bit of update / additional info on alternate approach to Iron Mtn (Trail #7 above) via Ellie Lane / Ramona Lookout. This is the map:


When I posted this in '17 entire descent from saddle above Ramona Lookout was in dark with headlamp, so I didn't see much detail. Now in Jan 22 I returned and hiked up that way, eager to see what I missed. It is wonderful trail!! Much preferred to standard approach. Yes quite a bit longer, but almost total solitude (compared to quite busy main trail). Canyon is beautiful, and there is even small lake I totally missed in the dark in '17. Trail is bit rough at places, but not harder than final part before Iron Mtn. Summit. It took maybe an hour from parking to saddle and then additional 15min to Ramona Lookout where I had lunch. It was getting late once I came to standard trail ("Iron Mtn. Basecamp"), but I still went up wanting to watch sunset from the top - something I've never done before. Descent with headlamp on normal trail was fine. Here are some pics from Jan '22


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[This is the lake near junction of Wild Horse / Ellie Lane; maybe 15 - 20min from standard Iron Mtn. Parking. Iron Mtn. is that peak upper center right in the background]


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[Looking back at ascent canyon; I came down this way in '17 in total dark & didn't see much. It is very scenic]


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[Raptor closure sign at the saddle; I was not sure if I was actually breaking some rules, but I think this applies to spur trails that head to bump above]


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[Stitch of 12 frames at Ramona Lookout looking at east San Diego County and distant Cuyamaca Mountain]


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["Peak Dial", new thing at Iron Mtn. Summit! ]


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[Sunset colors on western Horizon as sun has set below Pacific Ocean]


Iron Mtn. never disappoints; it is my fav San Diego County Inland trail, almost like some sort of inner energy, always feel welcome and find something new. I've been here over a dozen times by now but will keep coming back as long as I can. This longer variation via Ramona Lookout is highly recommended.


Detail Iron Mtn. Trip Report with lots of high-res photos and GPS download link here
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Last edited by zeljkok; 01-04-2022 at 06:53 PM.
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