I can’t count the times I have driven past the Inaja Memorial Picnic Ground on my way to and from my hikes. But, this short 1/2 mile hike was included on the North County San Diego Sierra Club’s 50 hikes for 50 years Challenge, so when driving back from hiking Cuyamaca Peak, Ted and I made a quick stop. Next to the parking lot are several covered picnic tables, and a small monument dedicated to the firefighters who lost their lives battling the Inaja Fire. In 1956, 11 firefighters lost their lives while battling the Inaja Fire along the San Diego River outside of Julian.
Just past the pit toilets, the nature trail begins a short climb up around the hill. Off to our left was the San Diego River Gorge. As the trail looped north, we were greeted with some beautiful views of the Santa Ysabel valley. We spotted a small use trail that led us toward the “summit”, where we found a viewfinder, allowing us to locate various landmarks across the horizon.
The trail continued working its way around and soon we found ourselves back at the trailhead. If we had been smarter, we should have run down to Dudley’s, got our sandwiches and made the short drive backup and enjoyed them here.
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.