Carmel Mountain Preserve

When the city of San Diego reopened some of the parks and open areas, I decided to explore Carmel Mountain Preserve. I had driven past it hundreds of times but never bothered to explore it.

As it turned there are three peaks within its borders; Carmel Mountain, Mesquite Benchmark, and Carmel Arête. My route would be a basic out and back. The entrance I picked as next to Ocean Air Rec Center. From here I climbed the small hill to the main mesa. The trail here was nice and wide, so I would be able to avoid anyone might encounter.

Carmel Mountain ‘High Point’

According to the topo map, the high point for Carmel Mountain was west of the trail. I hopped off the trail poking my way around the brush. Since this is a mesa, there really isn’t much of a view.

Vernal Pool

Next on the list was Mesquite Benchmark. Hoping I would be able to locate it, I passed by one of the vernal pools. Sadly, not many are left in the county. As I neared the location of the mark, I kept my eyes peeled.

There, just to the side of the trail partially under some brush was the benchmark! After not hiking over a month, it felt good to find one again.

My third target was Carmel Arête. The trail now became a single track, but since I had yet to encounter anyone, I was not worried. The trail dips down some before working its way across a narrow saddle. I stood atop it and snapped a few photos. I retraced my route, it was lovely to be back out on a trail.

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, Central Coast, 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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