Gonzales Canyon

I decided to do this hike after work, since it is just about 15 minutes from my house. My daughter decided to join me for this jaunt. We parked at Torrey Highlands Park and headed to the north end of it. From there we picked up the Nature trail and began our descent into the canyon. The route we choose became a touch rocky, since my daughter did not have trekking poles, she had to be careful.

We chatted about our upcoming road trip to see my sister and the new school year as we made our way to the selfie spot. I pointed out the poison oak that lined the trail. We took our photo, and began to retrace our path. Instead of climbing back up to the trailhead, we opted for a different route. She was not pleased with the steep hill we had to climb, but she made it. With that my 2021-2022 Coast to Crest Challenge was complete!

Blue Sky to Lake Poway

The latest edition of the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy’s Coast to Crest Challenge kicked off on July 1st, so I knew what much of holiday weekends plan were now. I decided that I would start the challenge off by hiking from Blue Sky Ecological Reserve, then up and around Lake Poway. This was going to be a nice 5.2-mile hike. I have not hiked Blue Sky in a long time, so I was looking forward to it. I pulled in about 8, and the lot was almost full, but I found a space. I applied my sunscreen, grabbed my gear, and set off.

I cruised along the wide trail for a bit until I came to the junction with the Creekside Trail. I was looking at my map and deciding if I want to take it. Two women ask for an opinion on the trail options. I told the Creekside trail would be better coming back, as it should have a touch more shade. I told them I was continuing on the main trail, then heading up to the Lake and around. We headed off together. I began chatting about the hike and the C2C challenge. When we reached the turn-off to Lake Poway, they asked if they could tag along. I welcomed the company. We started our ascent and I learned they were fairly new to hiking, so I began giving probably more information on hiking San Diego than they bargained for. I pointed out some various landmarks as we made our way to the lake. But more importantly, I showed them what poison oak looks like.

We cruised around its shoreline. I took my required selfie for the challenge near the southern end of the lake. The trail was busy but not crowded. We dropped back down from the lake onto the main trail. Soon we were back at the parking lot. I gave them some more suggestions for their next adventure and bid farewell. All told the hike was 5.27 miles and we did it in 1:59.

Dust Devil Trail

Decided to hike the easiest of the Coast to Crest Challenge’s hike, the Dust Devil Trail with some of the family. We pulled into the parking lot in the early evening to enjoy the end of the holiday weekend. The sun was just behind the late-day clouds, as we strolled to the wildlife view spot, aka ‘selfie spot’.

The family returned the same way to the car, as it was getting close to when the trail closes. I opted to hustle around the larger loop to take in some sights. We meet back at the car almost at the same time. One more hike to go and I will have completed this year’s Coast to Crest Challenge.

Santa Fe Valley Connector trail

Once I was done with my summit of Black Mountain, I drove the short distance to the trailhead for the Santa Fe Valley Connector trail. This section of the Coast to Crest Trail was recently acquired, so I was looking forward to exploring it. The trailhead is shared with the Lusardi Creek Loop. The early morning cloud cover was burning off, so I made sure to apply my sunscreen before setting off.

The trail passes by some incredible homes before dipping down toward the Lusardi Creek. The creek is still flowing, from residential runoff, and it made for a fun crossing. A guide rope is secured to the trees to help you across. From there, the trail follows the creek for a while, before turning east. 

After following the San Dieguito river for a bit, I had a small climb to reach my turn-around spot. I located my ‘selfie’ spot, with the Crosby Golf Course behind me, and took my photo. I retraced my route. The day had warmed up and I was glad I only had the short climb back to the car.  

Black Mountain-Miner’s Ridge

For the second hike on the Coast to Crest Challenge, I decided why not do the one that is almost in my backyard, Black Mountain. The recommended route was to take the Miner’s Ridge trail to the summit to snap your selfie. From the parking lot, the trail heads east for a bit before making its turn and starts climbing toward the summit.

I took a more direct route so I could also summit the ‘secondary’ summit as well. Plus, I was planning on getting in a second hike in after.

Once I reached the summit, there were numerous mountain bikers, some other hikers. I stayed long enough to take the photo and retreated from the crowds. I made my way back to the car, tossed in my gear, and headed off to the Scorpion Ridge-Santa Fe Valley Connector trail.

Volcan Mountain

Having just finished the Six-Pack of Peaks Arizona Winter Challenge figured I should pick up working on my hometown set of peaks. Since Ted Markus had never done Volcan Mountain, it seemed like the perfect choice. When we got to the trailhead, there was only one car and a CalFire engine. 

Just after the entrance, the three CalFire firefighters were finishing their morning workout. After about a 1/2 mile, we hopped onto the 5 Oaks trail. While this adds a little extra distance to the hike, it was a nicer option.

Once back on the main road, we cruised up toward the summit, stopping to look at the ruins of where an early exploration of placing an observatory here (Spoiler, it went to Palomar). Upon reaching the summit we spent a little time exploring, learning about the directional beacon, finding a couple of reference marks, and heading out to one of the benches. A few poppies were scattered along the ground, but they had not open for the day yet.

We took a nice view to the east, naming off so many peaks we have climbed. Up to this point, we have had the mountain to ourselves. But we were soon joined by other hikers out enjoying the trail. We headed back down along the main road, passing more folks, many with their dogs. This peak was a nice change of pace for both of us. Since it was still early we decided to drive up Palomar Divide Road and cross another peak off this year’s San Diego Challenge, Palomar High Point.

Boden Canyon

Decided to complete the 2020-2021 Coast to Crest Challenge today. The final hike I needed to do was  a flat-ish 6.6 mile hike that starts in the Pamo Valley, then follows the San Dieguito River through Boden Canyon. I pulled into the same parking lot that you would use if hiking Pamo Valley, just before 9am, but instead of heading north, I set off to the west. 

I knew this hike would be another good test of my knee, as it had some minor elevation gains, but also a nice amount of distance as well. The hike began with a gentle and short climb before leveling out for a while. I cruised along the wide trail as it weaved its way along the south side of the canyon. I was surprised at the beauty along much of this trail. Boden Canyon is certainly a hidden gem of a hike. My only regret was not doing it when the river might be flowing to add to the experience.

After about 3.3 miles, I reached the junction with the Orosco Truck Trail and the start of Clevenger Canyon. This was the designated “selfie spot”. The trail continued westward for a short distance before reaching Highway 78. In fact, there was a small trailhead there as well.  I took my photo and began retracing my route. I encountered several groups of hikers and mountain bikers as I made my way back to the trailhead. When I got back to the car, the lot was mostly full. I have really enjoyed this year’s Coast to Crest Challenge. 

Santa Ysabel Loop

As America awaited the results of the election, I needed to take a break and get in a hike. With our first bit of winter weather due for the weekend, I opted to do one early Friday morning. I decided to hike one of my two remaining Coast to Crest Challenge hikes. I opted to hike the Santa Ysabel Loop on the Santa Ysabel East Preserve. This was going to be a 4.2-mile lollipop hike. As a bonus, I could pick up breakfast afterward at Farmhouse 78.

When I pulled up to the trailhead, two cars were already parked. While the skies had some clouds scattered about, the temperatures were perfect. I had hiked some of this preserve during the last Coast to Crest Challenge, and this section had some trails I would pass en route to other adventures.

The trail starts gently before making its way up the hill to the junction. Some beautiful signs pointed the trail route. As I worked my way up, one of the other hikers passed me, headed back down.

Later, I encountered a second set of hikers. We chatted a bit as they were also working on the Challenge. I gave them my readout of the three I had done. They then set off, planning to grab some sandwiches from Dudley’s Bakery for their breakfast.

The trail was lovely, nice and wide, with some very beautiful scenery. I reached the selfie spot next to a nice set of picnic tables. I can see returning for a stroll with some friends to enjoy this hike.

With the photo taken, I cruised back down the trail, passing a couple more hikers along the way. Once back at the car, I tossed my gear in and made the short drive to the restaurant. I ordered some biscuits and gravy to go, as I needed to join in some work calls. With that, I only have to hike Boden Canyon to complete this year’s C2C.

North Lake Hodges

Did the North Lake Hodges trail this morning. This was my 3rd hike of this year’s Coast to Crest Challenge. Lovely hike, but you do have to keep an ear out for mountain bikers on this one. When I pulled into the staging area, there were three cars already parked there. The sun had not risen yet as I headed off down the trail. My route would basically follow Lake Hodges shore to the dam then, onto the Rattlesnake view spot. This selfie spot was used previously, so I knew exactly where I was headed.

The air was again nice and cool, making for some enjoyable hiking weather. I quickly found myself near the dam and the one tiny bit of elevation gain for this hike. I could see from the tracks on the ground that this trail is a favorite with mountain bikers, as it was mostly tire threads in the dirt. I think I encountered about 8 or so along the way, even this early.

I got the selfie spot and snapped a few photos. I opted not to interact with the telescope this time. Life in a pandemic…

While returning to the car, a section of the hike is on the service road to the dam. Thinking about a design problem, I missed my turn back onto the trail. I opted to stay on the road, as I knew it did intersect with the trail in a bit. I found a joining trail after a bit and got back on to the dirt trail and off the gravel road. Back at the parking lot, it had now almost completely filled up. Glad I hit it early 

San Pasqual Valley

Today’s hike was through a section of San Pasqual Valley up to Raptor Ridge and back. This would be my second hike of the 2020-2021 Coast to Crest Challenge. I again arrived at the trailhead just before sunrise to beat the predicted heat.

The trail headed west along the south side of San Pasqual Valley. The air was nice and crisp as I cruised along, as the sun had not yet risen over the hills behind me. After about 1.5 miles I reached the base of the hill and began working my way up. A runner passed me, surrounded by her four dogs.

The sun began to spread its rays across the valley and the surrounding hills, making for some lovely views. I reached the “selfie spot” and took my photo. I rested for on the picnic bench for a few minutes before heading back down. As I worked my way back to the car, I encountered two more folks using the trail.