Tag Archives: Peak

Los Pinos Lookout

CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST

Activity: Day Hike, Tour, Interview and Peak Bagging

6.5 miles, 1500’ elevation gain, 3 hour duration, rated Hard

Date: 11-29-21

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!

A view of Corte Madera, “San Diego’s Half Dome’, from along the way.
PBTA YouTube Video Hike, Tour and Interview of the
Los Pinos Mountain Lookout Tower with Forest Ranger Dave.
CLICK THE PIC
“The view up here is breathtaking, and I know it’s all downhill from here.”

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.  

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

El Cajon Mountain Trail

EL CAPITAN COUNTY PRESERVE

Near Lakeside

Activity: Day Hike, Peak Bagging

12 miles, summit elevation 3675’, elevation gain 3743’, 6 hour duration, rated HARD

Date: 11-19-21

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. 

There is a split in the trail either way works. I did the newer harder way on the way up and the Old Way not quite as hard on the way down.

My side trips to El Capitan Peak, (no not that El Capitan Peak…) and to the mine.

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure YouTube Channel
When everything feels like an up hill struggle, just think of the view from the top.

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.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Fortuna Mountain Trail

MISSION TRAILS REGIONAL PARK

Activity: Day Hike, Peak Bagging

6.3 Miles, elevation change 1,364’, duration 3.5 hours, rated Moderate

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.

Ahmed, Karl, James, Matt “Ox”, and Roger enjoy Mission Trails Regional Park.
“Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.” – Isaak Walton

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 APPAREL online store for all your adventure wear needs proudly displaying the mantra and logo: ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’! Shout it from the mountain tops!

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure