Santa Fe Valley Trail

Decided to hike the Santa Fe Valley Trail once again. I hiked this trail as part of the Coast To Crest Challenge a number of years back. This time I was hiking it as part of the Sierra Club North County Group’s 50th Anniversary 50 Hike Challenge. As I drove down toward the parking area, two deer darted into the nearby brush. Was not expecting to see them in the mid-afternoon. 

The trailhead is shared by both the Santa Fe Trail and Del Dios Gorge Trail. I headed toward the west and onto the Santa Fe Trail. For much of the trail, it is nice and flat, I was cruising along, crossing the numerous small bridges along the way. After about 1.4 miles, the trail will begin a short climb. Thankfully, the switchbacks help ease the climb. It drops back down some, before making another climb up toward the ‘end’ of the trail. I snapped my required photo and retraced my route.

Denk Tank Mountain

The North County group of the Sierra Club, is celebrating its 50 anniversary.  As part of that celebration, they are hosting a 50 Hike Challenge. I decided to work on this list as my backup hikes or my mid-week hikes. Yesterday was such a day. Denk Mountain is just a few minutes from work, and even on my way home. I parked near the trailhead and laced up my boots, grabbed my poles and set off.

While it was sunny, the temperatures were not too warm as I quickly made my way up the trail. There is quite a network of trails across this mountain, so you do need to take some care at junctions to stay on the route you want to take to the summit.

At the summit, I snapped a few photos, including the one for the challenge and headed back down. There were a few flowers dotting the sides of the trail. Judging my the tracks on the trail and the repair stand at the summit, it is safe to assume this area is favored by mountain bikers, so make sure you keep an ear and an eye out for them when you hike it. The hike was 2.8 miles in 1:07 with 663 feet of gain.

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!

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.  

Bayside Trail

My final hike of the day was going to be the Bayside Trail at Cabrillo National Monument. This hike had the added bonus of stopping off at Fathom Bistro for lunch and a beer. They are located on the Shelter Island pier and serve up some tasty hot dogs and have a wonderful tap list. I drove out to Point Loma, passing my old office along the way, showed my National Parks Annual Pass, and parked. I grabbed my gear and a jacket and set off toward the lighthouse. The trailhead to the Bayside trail is just before the lighthouse along the access road. The trail follows the cliffs down to a nice view of San Diego and Coronado with several information panels along the way. I reached the end of the trail, snapped a few photos, and began my ascent. Back at the access road, I stopped and chatted with one of the park volunteers for a while. Afterward, I thought to myself this is exactly what my dad would do all the time. With three hikes done for the day, some BBQ was in order for dinner.

Lake Calavera

The second hike of the morning was to climb Calavera mountain up in Carlsbad. What is interesting about this peak is that it is actually an extinct volcano. I parked on the street and headed down toward the small reservoir/lake. Once across the dam, I began working my way up to the summit. The trail passes in front of the remains of the volcanic plug. I paused for a bit to marvel at what stood in front of me, but I did need to make this hike quick and get back to work.

The trail was a touch steep at points, so I was glad I had my trekking poles. Once at the summit I had a nice view of the area. I could see some of the rock labyrinths back down near the base of the hill. I snapped my photos and headed back down as I had a work call soon.I certainly want to come back and explore this area a bit more.

Sweetwater Summit Regional Park

Recently, the County of San Diego’s Parks and Recreation department created a Tour Our Trails challenge. They even printed “passport” books to log your hikes. Since I have been focused on two other challenges (San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peaks and the 2020-2021 Coast to Crest Challenge), I had not started on these hikes. The 15 hikes are grouped into three categories; easy, moderate, and hard. I needed to pick up something from a fellow hiker who lives in the South Bay, so I decided to do a quick stroll through part of the Sweetwater Summit Regional Park. 

Each hike has a designated photo opp, and for this hike it was Morrison Pond. I pulled into the parking lot and grabbed my gear. Just then, four horseback riders were just returning from their ride. I set off along the trail to explore the park a bit before viewing the pond. I easily crossed the trickle of water that is the Sweetwater river and headed east for a while. Once I reached the junction with another trail, I headed back toward the pond. 

Along the way, I passed a couple of families enjoying the trails. This is a great place to bring your little ones, as the trail is nice and flat. I circled around the pond, enjoying the view for a bit. I then returned to the car and finished my errand. I am looking forward to the other 14 hikes, especially the ones I have never done.