Hot Springs Mountain

Today’s plan included finally having a chance to hike with Gina Norte and cross Hot Springs Mountain off my 6POP list. For those who don’t know Gina, she might be the “queen” of Hot Springs Mountain. She was the driving force in allowing for Hot Springs Mountain to be included on the challenge. We have been Facebook friends for some time, but have never been able to have our schedules sync up.

When I woke up, a mist/light rain was falling, I figured it was nothing more than some coastal drizzle, & I did not give it much attention. As I kept driving out toward Warner Springs, I began to fear that the forecast I looked at the night before was off. I really hadn’t planned for a wet hike… Luckily, as I neared the guard shack at the reservation to drop off my $10 entry fee, the skies became clear.

I parked in my usual spot, and Gina soon pulled up and parked under the shade of a nice oak tree. After some introductions in real life, we set off. If you have never hiked Hot Springs Mountain, the first two miles will get your blood pumping!  We took a relaxed pace as we worked our way up the dirt road. 

The clouds rolled in the valley below us, making for some dramatic views. Soon, it was time to slip on the bug nets as the flies began to swarm. Once past the steeper section, the grade eased. Gina was in full tour guide mode, filling me in on so much about the mountain and the tribe that lives there the Los Coyotes Tribe. I never knew that they did not have electricity until 2000!

Before we knew it, the abandoned fire tower came into view. We decided to go climb the actual summit block first. Following the well-marked use trail, we reached the summit in short order. We scaled the summit following the same route as I took on my last visit.

As we sat there, the clouds still swirled below us to the west, while so many familiar peaks stood clearly to the east. After grabbing a snack and photos, we carefully made our way down. Just around the north side, a ladder has been set up for an alternate route. I scrambled up to photograph another reference mark.

We next wandered over to the old fire tower. This is the “Potato Chip” for this peak. Normally, Palomar would be visible to the west, but today the clouds hid it from us. Speaking of clouds, they started to move in, so we set off back down the mountain.

The breeze had picked up, so the bugs were being kept at bay as we made our way down. Gina told me about some possible new trails that might be opening on the mountain. This would be so exciting. For a long time all access to this peak was closed, so to have the possibility of seeing more of this beautiful reservation was wonderful news. We talked about how to inform hikers to be respectful of not only the trail but the rest of the land and its heritage. 

Before we knew it, we were back at the cars. We chatted some more, but real life beckoned. We made some plans for some future adventures and said our goodbyes. Somewhere near Ramona, I realized I left my poles on the top of the car! I guess I will use my back up pair until I can pick my replacements from REI.

Hot Springs Mountain

Peak Name: Hot Springs Mountain
Distance: 10.1 miles
Date: September 21, 2019
Summit: 6,533 feet

Today’s peak was to be the highest point in San Diego County, Hot Springs Mountain at 6,533 feet. As I drove out to Warner Springs, a fog bank hung over the lake, and the thermometer read 41! Hoping it was not like that at the campground. I made my way onto the reservation and slipped my $10 into the slot. Parking near the chain that blocks driving up Sukat road, the temperature was a crisp 56°F, what I had expected. I gathered my gear and started up the road.

If you have never done this hike, the first two miles are steep! I was glad to have a cool morning and some shade as I made my way up. I was passed by 4 trail runners practicing for the Ragnor race in a few weeks.

Once the steep section is over, the hike is nice. However, about a mile in the bugs started to appear. I grabbed my bug net and tossed it on. Before leaving the car, I had applied bug spray so they avoid the arms. The road continued working its way upward. Portions were covered in acorns. Various animal tracks could be spotted in the dirt. Some nice signage pointed the way to the lookout tower.

I kept expecting to see the trail runners making their way back down, but I never did. I guess the headed down Hot Springs Road instead of going to the tower. After 5 miles of hiking and almost 2,500 feet of elevation gain, the abandoned tower came into view.

I took a break and enjoyed part of an orange and the views. A breeze had picked up so the bugs were held at bay. A register has been placed here, so I signed it. But the true summit is a just hike to the north.

Following an over flagged use trail, I found myself at the base of the summit block. The register is located at the base, as it does take a bit of effort to scale the summit. Two ropes are attached to the top and they seemed solid. But I decided to scout around to find a possible safer ascent for a solo climber. Around the north side, a nice crack in the rock allowed me to get past the halfway point. From there it was a class 3 move to the top, the ropes gave me just enough comfort to scale the final portion. There the reference mark was found and the actual benchmark down inside the concrete platform.

I took my photos and scale carefully back down. Grabbing my poles and pack I set off down the road. I was feeling great as the miles tick past. I drank some Gatorade and eat some, all while moving. The bugs were too annoying to really stop. After just over 4 hours of hiking time, I found myself back at the car having covered 10.1 miles. This was my 67th peak of my 100 Peak Challenge!

Hot Springs Mountain

Peak Name: Hot Springs Mountain
Distance: 10.1 miles
Date: November 26, 2017
Summit: 6,533 feet

I decided to tackle the tallest peak in San Diego, Hot Springs Mountain. Ted was able to tag along as we drove out past Warner Springs to the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation. We drove toward the road that would lead us to the summit. As we pull up, the chain was down, some other hikers were gearing up to begin their trek up to the peak. We decided to continue up the road, bypassing some of the steeper sections. We found a nice turnout and parked. From here we simply followed the road to the abandoned fire lookout tower.

We had a fantastic view from the base of the tower. You can no longer access the tower, and it only a matter of time until it needs to be fully torn down.

We opted not to work our way to the formal summit block, as I was feeling the effects of my increased hiking cadence. We returned back down the road, enjoying the shade from the trees.

As we drove out, we once again looked for someplace to pay our entrance fee, but no luck. I had to chuckle to myself, the highest point in San Diego was still lower than my starting point for my recent summit of San Jacinto.