Manza Benchmark

Looking to summit another peak in the Lagunas before any weather hit, so I opted to hike out to Manza Benchmark.  This time I was joined by my good friend James. We parked just off Sunrise Highway, right near the Sunset trailhead. We followed the main trail for a bit before locating a use trail heading across the meadow.

The trees were still showing some bit of fall on them. We knew that the trail was going to descend into a drainage area, before climbing another ridge to the actual summit. Carefully checking our maps and route, we navigated down through the brush. Bits of poison oak were spotted along the sides of the trail, so some extra care was taken as we began ascending.

Once we reached the ridge, we began passing through thickets of manzanita and over several false summits, until at the end of the ridge our goal was sighted.

With some minor rock scrambling, we found the benchmark and signed the register. As we rested, the views were surprisingly nice. After soaking up some sun and the quiet, we began our trek back to the trailhead. We again were careful as we worked our way down the drainage ravine, as it was a steep descent. Soon we found ourselves back at the car and off for a cold beer at Alpine Brewery and a tasty burrito.

A few months later, I was hiking with Derek up to Whale Peak, and our conversation turned to what my favorite peak had been so far. Although I had some really enjoyable summits out in Anza-Borrego, the summit was my answer. It was a nice blend of scenery, a bit of challenge, and adventure.


I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea-kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 

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