Today’s adventure was a hike to summit Monument Hill, which is a peak listed on the Sierra Club Lower Peaks Committee list. The peak is located in the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, which for a time was closed due to the Tenaja fire back in 2017. The Reserve is now open again, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to go explore it. After a one hour drive, I found myself pulling into the gravel parking lot next to the Visitor Center. I knew there was a use fee for the Reserve, but did not see anywhere to deposit the $4. The Visitor Center was closed, so I figured I would try to figure this out when I returned from the hike. I headed south along Waterline Road until I reached the Tenaja Truck Trail. I followed it for a short time until I reached the Vista Grande Trail. Now I switched from the wide trails I had been on to a more traditional single track. This trail climbed up at an easy grade, offering some nice vistas of the plateau. It was here that I spied my first tarantula along the trail.
When I reached Monument Hill Road, I could finally see the summit about ½ mile away. I was back cruising on a wide road again toward it. I came to the cut-off that would take me up the small hill to the top. Once there, and after another tarantula sighting, two benches greeted me. I poked around the area and found the benchmark and two reference marks. It offered more great views of the area. I’m going to have to return some time during the spring, as I can only imagine how lovely it must be.
Once I descended, I opted to continue along Monument Hill Road until it reached the Lomas Trail. If I had more time I might have continued on to the historic Adobes, but I decided to save that for another time. The Lomas Trail was a little steeper than the Vista Trail, so I was glad to have done the loop in the direction I did. The trail ends back at the Tenaja Truck Trail, so I followed it back toward Waterline Road. It was here that I passed some of the first other people out enjoying the Reserve. Once back at the trailhead, the Visitor Center was still closed, so I began walking around the parking lot looking for a place to pay my use fee. I found it in the center of the parking lot, partly behind some shrubbery. I slipped my $4 into the metal box, and headed back to the car. The day had warmed up a bit, so I was glad to be done. The entire hike was 4.9 miles, with a gain of 287 feet and four tarantula sightings!
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.