5.5 miles, 2139’ elevation, 1580’ elevation gain, 2.5 hour duration, rated Hard
Rising out of a rural community you can’t really get away from the sprawl of man. So being a nature lover of wilderness it isn’t my favorite type of hike. That being said the trail is rugged dirt and rock, steep in places, and covered in chaparral. The area is beautiful it’s just that everyone else thought so too and moved here.
Little scramble at the top over some boulders to the summit provides great views of San Diego all the way to Mexico, Mount Laguna, Cuyamaca Peak, Palomar Mt and the Pacific Ocean.
This hike isn’t as popular as some of the other San Diego Peaks so you should be able to find parking in the small lot, but beware there are some reports of break ins and I am always wary of that after my rig has been broken into before.
Thanks for joining me peak bagging Mt McGinty, one of the San Diego 100 Peaks List, as I found myself “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure”. We all need Balance in our busy world of appointments and deadlines, squeezing time in for this and squeezing time in for that. Balance can be discovered during adventurous outings in Nature even on a rather urbanish hike. It’s still worthy effort to the top, a good trail, and great views- even it the view is urban sprawl, it’s all good. If you happen upon the menu at the top you might checkout hikes that are a little more wild, if that is what you are looking for, as you seek that all important Balance. I invite you to stay informed on all things PBTA by doing these easy things: COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW and SHARE. The menu is categorized by location or activity, each is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. If you like my hat then why not purchase one at SHOP APPAREL, where you will find my line of Adventure Wear with the PBTA Logo and Mantra.
Activity: Day Hike, Tour, Interview and Peak Bagging
6.5 miles, 1500’ elevation gain, 3 hour duration, rated Hard
There are a few different ways to get to Los Pinos Mountain. I actually added the Los Pinos Mountain Lookout to my hike to Corte Madera, San Diego’s Half Dome hike. Since not everyone wants to do do 11 miles for a day hike I split the two different peaks into two different posts. Obviously the first half of the hike is the same for both until you get to the four corner junction.
So from the beginning, the trip to the trail head is 5 miles along a bumpy, dusty, country road. You need an Adventurer Pass or other National Forest Pass for Cleveland National Forest.
Coming in on Corral Canyon Road the trailhead is not marked so having a hiking App, (preloaded, as you will not always have cell coverage), would be helpful. There is only room for maybe five cars. Hike passed the locked gate then work your way up a windy dirt road (called Kernan on the map I saw), for less than a half mile, (again an GPS App could be beneficial to find the trail). Just passed a sharp turn in the road turn left onto the Espinosa Trail. The trek is through heavy overgrown thorny brush that wants to reach out and scratch, so long pants and sleeves are something to consider. Along the way there are some lovely oaks for shade until you break out into bright sunshine with green hills sprinkled with boulders where you can marvel at the sight of Corte Madera, “San Diego’s Half Dome.”
At the four corner junction you have the two choices to the left going up to Los Pinos Mountain. The first one is quite steep such as a path you might find for utility, but it is much shorter than the second option which is more of a fire road trail. What I did was take on the challenge of the steep option going up. Just because I would always rather have a loop than just out and back, along with going up steep and slippery is one thing, but going down steep and slippery is entirely another, I took the fire road down making it a bit of a loop.
On top I made a new friend interviewing Lookout Station Forester Dave, (the nicest guy), for PBTA. Dave was very informative and had a wealth of knowledge that he was more than willing to share. In fact truth be know, I think he was glad to have someone to talk to as being on the top of a tower, in the middle of a forest, all by your lonesome can get old I surmise.
His tower is the Southern most Federal Lookout in the region. Los Pinos Mountain has an elevation of 4774’ and the the lookout is perched atop a 1600’ tower. This gives Ranger Dave a birds eye view of the entire area and into Mexico. As he explained it, his job is monitoring the area for fires, but what he is really looking for is smoke, because if he sees fire he is too late. He also monitors storms and keeps tracks of lightning strikes. He loves his job and enjoys the views and the animals. He showed me his photo log book of animals and the birds of prey. Dave really had some wonderful shots. He certainly has the vantage point that is for sure!
We all certainly appreciate Dave and the important job that he does watching over and caring for our beloved wilderness. Thanks Forest Ranger Dave!
I appreciate your joining me and Fire Tower Lookout Forest Ranger Dave on this adventure into the Cleveland National Forest ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ and the visit to the Lookout Tower high atop Los Pinos Mountain. Stay with me for more adventurous outings in Nature by doing this: LIKE, FOLLOW, COMMENT and SHARE. Browse the menu and you will discover that PBTA travels extensively throughout this wonderful West seeking the balance that Nature can bestow upon us if we just take the time. For clothing that means Nature and Balance and Adventure I invite you to treat yourself at SHOP APPAREL.
12 miles, summit elevation 3675’, elevation gain 3743’, 6 hour duration, rated HARD
El Cajon Mountain, one of the coveted 6 Pack of Peaks in San Diego, sits in over 2,600 acres of natural protected land. Half a mile from the parking lot, (which by the way, plan accordingly as to when the parking lot closes, it is at 4:30 PM in the winter), are bathrooms and the trailhead. Also keep in mind that during the summer this would be a very hot place to hike, and the trail I have heard could be closed during August due to extreme heat. Make sure that you bring plenty of water and snacks.
El Cajon Mountain is not the highest, but has been called the “Toughest hike in San Diego.” It begins with rambling hills and a lot of up and down like a spin class. You will get some switch backs and there are some really steep sections with loose rocks so trekking poles would be of assistance. There is a split in the trail on the way up you will see that it talks about old and new. The official route is go right, but either will work I took left on the way up and the other on the way down. You will find a Stop sign at the half way mark reminding you that you still have a long ways to go and you need to plan for the closing of the parking lot. The thrill of being close is greatly diminished when you come over the rise and there is a peak that has to be scrambled still.
On top you have some awesome views of downtown San Diego off in the distance as well as plenty of hills and mountains.
On my way down I added El Capitan Peak, after all I am a peak bagger and it is right there for the taking. I also checked out old mines on the way back down the trail a piece. If you have not been in a cave then check them out, otherwise it wasn’t even worth putting on my head lamp lol.
My Hobie Cat/Peak Bagging friend Keith Christensen once said, “If it didn’t hurt then it wasn’t worth it.” This hike was worth it.
My side trips to El Capitan Peak, (no not that El Capitan Peak…) and to the mine.
This was an hike I was looking forward to as a tough one and it did not disappoint. It was a good one, One where you felt that you accomplished something. It was hard, it was long, it was wonderful. The area was superb, and the vistas so sweet. Stay with me to celebrate such endeavors, which is easy to do, just: COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW and SHARE. If you like my hat and shirt then checkout my adventure wear website SHOP APPAREL. I invite you to checkout the Menu above. It will show you some wondrous places all over the West that I have traveled to on behalf PBTA. The Menu is categorized by location as well as activity. Each is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.
Volcan Mountain is one of the Six Pack of Peaks for the San Diego area, which means for Peak Baggers this mountain is rather significant. I arrived at the location earlier than the 8AM lot opening, but I was informed by hikers that it is fine to park on the road and head on up ahead of the lot’s opening.
The top of the mountain provides wonderful views all the way to the Pacific and even of Catalina Island on a clear day. The other direction has views of Anza-Borrego and the Salton Sea. This point was in the 1920’s an Air Beacon for the US Postal Service providing night guidance for pilots. Some of the equipment is still visible.
I took Volcan Mountain Trail up which is a broad road. It ventures through Oaks and Manzanitas making it a lovely trek. On the way back I took the Five Oaks Trails which is single track, narrow and winding, with some switch backs furnishing more of the nature feel that I prefer than a road. It more or less parallels the Volcan Mountain Trail, but it will add on about a mile to your adventure. I will always make it a loop if given the choice.
Besides the lovely trees and vegetation I mentioned, I saw some wildlife that was fun: Wild Turkeys, Bunnies, Vultures and other birds of prey, deer and a lizard. I did not see any of the posted wild life that isn’t fun: Mountain Lion or Rattlesnake.
Thanks for Peak Bagging Volcan Mountain with me as I was ’Pursing Balance Through Adventure’. I hope this episode encourages you to get out and say hello to nature soon, as such an outing can bring the rest of our lives back into the balance that is so important for our well being. Stay with me by doing a few easy tasks: LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. If you care to peruse the menu above you will discover that PBTA ventures all across the West. The menu is divided up mostly by location. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. If you like my shirt and beanie they are available for purchase at SHOP APPAREL.
Cuyamaca Peak is one of the “Six Pack of Peaks” coveted by Peak Baggers for being the second highest peak in San Diego County. The views from the top stretch from Mexico to the Coronado Islands, San Jacinto, to Granite Mountain in Anza Borrego, and it really is quite spectacular.
The State Park Charges $10 for day use, and there is a campground there if you are so inclined. This hike is a loop and I recommend doing it counter clockwise. If I had more time I might have done the hike as an out and back utilizing the Azalea Glen Trail portion in both directions. The second portion of this hike is down a paved fire road and that certainly is not my favorite, but you can cruise down it relatively quickly.
The hike starts out rather flat and gentle weaving through a wooded area with a variety of trees such as oak, alder and pine. Even though this area is recovering from one of the worst wildfires, a large portion of the trail is shielded from that view as the brush is built up along the trail. The hike becomes steeper adding some switch backs and you will experience some rocky areas so sturdy hike boots are a plus. You will be dumped out on a dirt fire road for a small section before taking the Conejos Trail all the way toward the summit where the final section is on the paved fire road called Lookout Road. On top you will have astounding views all around.
This state park had a series of incidents in the 80’s and 90’s regarding mountain lion attacks one which was fatal. Encounters with cougars are very rare. If you have a backpack on, leave it on to protect your back and neck as much as possible. If you should run across one of these animals make yourself big, wave your arms, throw rocks and sticks, yell at it, and do not crouch down. How do you pick up a rock? Well, that is a good question. We have all seen that one viral video where the mountain lion followed the guy for like a mile, and every time he bent over to pick up a rock it charged all fangs and claws, but when he finally did get a rock and flung it at the large cat it took off in a flash. The good news is those attacks were a long time ago and nothing like that has happened in over 25 years.
As I mentioned I took the paved route down on the Lookout Fire Road as shown on the map. It was late in the day so I just cruised down the road. Not the natural feeling that I felt on the way up, but it was quicker.
Thanks for coming along on this trek up Cuyamaca Peak. People have been ’Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ in this area for 7000 years. To ensure that you remain on this journey to self fulfillment please COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW and SHARE. If you peruse the menu above you will find that PBTA ventures to many fine locales throughout the West, so you should be able to uncover plenty of inspiration there. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. If you need Adventure Wear, such as that pictured, you can find top quality gear with the Pursuing Balance Through Adventure Logo and Mantra at SHOP APPAREL.
The mostly single track trail is well marked along scenic rolling hills of rock and chaparral. Much of the journey is along a rocky path, sturdy shoes are suggested. The trek to Iron Mountain sets out flat, then begins the incline. Heading up to the summit hikers must tackle quite a few switch backs.
This is one of the more popular hikes in the area and one of the tallest peaks in Poway. The day I was there we were experiencing the Spring time phenomenon known as “May Gray”, (marine layer that usually burns off later in the day), which gave Iron Mountain a moody vibe, unfortunately this also blocked the view at the summit. The Boy Scouts had an excellent viewing scope at the top to point out what we would have seen.
I met a couple, the woman was wearing a Forest Ranger shirt. It turns out she recently lost her brother who was a Forest Ranger. She was wearing his shirt on hikes as a tribute of his life, which I thought was very touching.
Iron Mountain is certainly a fun and enjoyable hike. Even though the sights were not what they could have been the May Gray kept it from being too hot and the surrounding terrain was still wonderful.
I hope that you enjoyed the jaunt to Poway’s Iron Mountain while ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’. I love the rocky chaparral covered hillsides. In order to love more adventures in nature with the goal of balancing out a busy work a day life please: FOLLOW, LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE. To enjoy other spots in the West that are filled with natural beauty go to the menu above, each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. You will need adventure wear and I literally have you covered at SHOP APPAREL.
I was invited by my new trail friend Ahmed to join him and some of his buddies for a reunion hike in Mission Trails Regional Park. Ahmed and I hiked together recently with 3 other backpackers to Bear Camp in the Angeles National Forest. It turns out the buddies were all friends from the Big Apple, NYC, and were now spread out all over the country.
I immediately wanted to head up to the two peaks being North and South Fortuna Mountain. Ahmed wasn’t sure his friends were up for that, but Karl, James and Matt “Ox”, surprised him and said they wanted to see the views from the top. The views from the top were sensational yielding not only a bird’s eye view of the park’s surrounding landscape but Mexico to the South, Downtown San Diego, Point Loma, as well as peaks and mountains all around. The park wasn’t too far from Mira Mar and we saw a couple ‘Top Gun’ Pilots strutting their stuff.
While the hike did indeed feel pretty Moderate in most cases there were a few places, one that had a little bit of scrambling, and another nick named “Stair Way to Heaven” that were probably pushing that envelope. I will note that park signs along the way called the hike “Difficult”. So it may just depend on what sort of shape you are in and like beauty it is in the eye of the beholder. Also my personal tracker said that the trail, Fortuna Mountain Trail was closer to 8 miles.
This was my first time to Mission Trails Regional Park and I have to say that I was impressed. This is a great area to get out into and experience some of the wonders of nature. From easy broad dirt paths to steep rocky trails, from peaks with fantastic views, to a little oak tree grove in the bottom of the canyon- there is some nice variety to enjoy. It appears that you can really mix and match the trails to fit your needs as far as how difficult, and how long you want to hike.
Thanks for joining Ahmed, Karl, James, Matt and I as we found ourselves ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’ on the top of North and South Fortuna Mountain in Mission Trails Regional Park. What a great outdoor gym, place of worship, hospital, and sanctuary all wrapped up in one. In other words a place to find balance from the crazy world below and outside those gates filled with schedules, deadlines, meetings, alarms going off, traffic and just responsibilities. When you are ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ it is like a hall pass to fresh air, sights, smells, and a chance to breath… breath in nature… breath out stress. There is always more to come so be sure to COMMENT, LIKE, SHARE and FOLLOW. Go to the menu for lots of places across the West to breath in nature… breath out stress… Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. You will want to look good and feel good when you are renewing and resetting so checkout the SHOP APPARELonline store for all your adventure wear needs proudly displaying the mantra and logo: ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’! Shout it from the mountain tops!