I wanted to hike out to Diablo Benchmark, but since we could not head out until 11, it was going to be too warm to attempt it. Instead, I looked at some of the peaks Ted needed to complete on the San Diego Sierra Club 100 peak list. But I really did not want to go bushwhacking up Middle Peak, Manza Benchmark or Sheephead Mountain. That left Morena Butte as our best option for a nice afternoon hike. We stopped at the Ranger station and got our parking permit ($3). We parked next to the trailhead and set off down the service road to the dam. A light breeze kept the temperatures pleasant.
The road worked its way around the edge of Lake Morena, until after about a mile, we turned off onto the trail that would have us connect with the PCT. The Butte loomed over us to the west. We cruised along the PCT for a bit until we reached the turn off to the use trail that would lead us to the summit.
The trail would now weave its way upward through the manazatia. We continued working our way toward the north butte. Once on the slabs near the summit, a nice collection of cairns pointed the way. There is no benchmark on this peak, and we did not locate a register. I found a nice spot to enjoy a late lunch. We debated working our way over to the west butte, but Ted had already run 13.1 miles in the morning, so he was ok with skipping it. Plus, I was feeling a little bit from my ascent of San Ysidro the day before.
We made our way back down without incident, opting to take the trail on the west side of the small valley this time. After tossing our gear back in the car, we stopped at the market just outside the county park and treated ourselves to some nice milkshakes. I logged the hike at 6.5 miles in 3:17 and 1,100 feet of gain.
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.