Wilson Benchmark & Pinyon Ridge

After having fun summiting three peaks the day before, I was looking to continue to pick off the remaining peaks of my 100 Peak Challenge. Given the unseasonably warm temperatures, I knew which hikes I needed to do—the Wilson Benchmark/Pinyon Ridge combination. Matt, a friend of Susie Kara, joined me on this adventure. Once again, we drove out to Ranchita and then down the dirt road to the trailhead. My Subaru Outback had no trouble with the road, but I would not take my Acura on it. We parked, gathered our gear, and headed down the old jeep trail. It was nice not to be bundled up for warmth like the last time I hiked to these summits.

The miles ticked off quickly, and soon we were at the point to leave the trail and ascend Pinyon Ridge. Since I knew from which side to climb the summit block, we aimed for the northeast face.

We climbed up to the top and sat and soaked in the views.

As Matt is relatively new to San Diego, I pointed out the various peaks all around us. The register was tucked away under a good collection of rocks. After a nice rest, we scrambled down and we continued cross-country to the east to rejoin the jeep trail.

Upon reaching the base of the bump that Wilson Benchmark sits upon, we worked our way up. There is no trail at this point, so it is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” type of ascent. Soon, the wooden stake came into view, which denotes the summit. Both a benchmark and a reference mark were quickly found, along with the register. The peaks to the east were more easily seen, so I continued my role as a tour guide. We hung out here for a bit, then decided to head back.

Back on the jeep trail, we cruised non-stop back to the car. Peaks #87 and #88 were done. On the way home, we stopped at the little store in Ranchita to grab a cold drink. The clerk remembered me and we chatted a bit about the day’s adventures. It was a picture-perfect day to have done these two.


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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