Van Dam Peak

Since I had to pick up my daughter from her high school grad night party at 5:00 AM, I figured I might as well get a quick hike since I was up. I could not do anything major since we were sending my son off to be a counselor at Camp Ramah later in the morning. Van Dam Peak fits the bill perfectly.

This time I opted to explore it from the east side. I parked across from the elementary school and began heading up the trail. It was clear that this route is heavily used by mountain bikers, as the trail had been customized with jumps and banked turns. I was glad to be doing this in the pre-dawn and not worrying about being taken down by a rider. The chirping of birds filled the air, along with the cars traveling along the 15. The route to the top was just under .7 miles. The summit is marked by a graffitied concrete slab.

The June Gloom kept the sunrise from being seen. To the northwest was Black Mountain, and to the east was Twin Peaks.

After a few quick photos, I headed back down the trail. Instead of returning the same way, I opted to make this trek into a loop. The east side is crisscrossed with trails, again, mostly for mountain bikes, so I had to check the satellite view to make sure I was on the best path down.

The trail led me down to gravel road behind some houses. Following it for a bit, an entrance to the street was available. Instead, I took a narrow trail that would lead me back to the car without using the street. This trail was a bit overgrown and offset the mountain bike elements on the other trails.

This trail rejoined the trail almost where I started. It was nice to have solitude on this hike, it gave me some time to reflect on my twins’ graduation and their new adventures ahead of them. I got in the car and picked up breakfast for my son at iHop and headed home. This was my #40 summit of my 100 Peaks Challenge!


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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