Santa Ysabel West Preserve

Distance: 5.8 miles
Date: February 8, 2020

Besides working on completing the Sierra Club San Diego 100 peaks list, I am also working on completing the San Dieguito’s River Foundations’ Coast to Crest Challenge. I knocked off three of the five hikes around New Years’. With my usual peak-bagging partners occupied, I decided to go do one of the remaining hikes, Santa Ysabel West Preserve.

Dave Myron and I pulled into the empty parking lot just before 8 am. Thankfully, the gate was already open. We geared up and headed off. The entire trail is about 5.5 long and follows a lollipop pattern. This challenge requires a selfie at a particular spot along the trail, in this case near the top of the lollipop.

After a short flat section, the trail makes its first small climb. The trail then continues to work its way up and down the hills. We carefully crossed a nicely flowing stream before the final climb to the selfie spot. The grazing cows barely gave us notice as we passed by. The views were quite nice with Volcan Mountain rising to the east, and Cuyamaca to the southeast.

Upon our return, we meet a couple of groups of hikers, also enjoying the trail. Soon we were back at the car and headed back into town. I had hoped to get the final hike in on Sunday, but rain showers had other plans.

Kanaka Loop

Distance: 7.2 miles
Date: June 29, 2019

Today was going to be a two hike day, the first up was completing this year’s Coast to Crest Challenge by hiking the Kanaka Loop out in the Santa Ysabel East Preserve. I pulled into the parking area, which is just north of the trailhead to Volcan Mountain. As I gathered my gear, another hiker was returning from the trail. Turns out he was trying to finish the challenge for the deadline. He was off to do his last hike. I wished him well and headed off myself. 

The trail gently worked its way toward near a still flowing stream, the trail crosses it before beginning to work its way up the hill. Once atop the hill, I found myself on a nice pasture. The challenge requires you to take a selfie at a specific spot, in the case of a distinct fallen tree. I continued up to it and took my photo. I surveyed the view. Initially, I was just going to hustle up to the photo spot and hustle back down. My main goal was to get another peak done on the 100 Peak Challenge, but I was so taken by the beauty of this hike, I decided to continue the loop.

This area is an active pasture, so as I strolled along the trail, cows dotted the area. I kept a respective distance. 

I soon found myself back at the junction to descend from the pasture. This might have been one of the nicest hikes of the challenge.

Making my way back to the car, I ran into a grandfather and his grandson out enjoying the trail. We chatted some, turns out he used to be a ranger for the park. I bid farewell and headed back to the car. Another challenge in the books! I stopped off at Wynola Pizza before heading down to summit Arrowmaker Ridge.

Clevenger Canyon-San Pasqual North Trail

Peak Name: San Pasqual North Viewpoint
Distance: 4.1 miles
Date: May 4, 2019
Summit: 1,740 feet

As part of my 100PeakChallenge Reboot, I hiked this peak again. I decided to hike Clevenger Canyon North today as I wanted to see San Pasqual Creek actually flowing, as well as get it summited again before the heat of summer hit. So down the trail, I went.

The graffiti on the rocks near the trailhead has been cleaned up, but I quickly got a taste of how overgrown the trail has become. The wild mustard has exploded all over hillside making the trail hard to see at times.

The creek was still flowing nicely and was able to cross it with a small hop. The rocks here are unfortunately covered in graffiti 😞. Now the climb up began. The trail is in need of some serious attention. The overgrowth slowed me down as I would push past it. About halfway up I did spot a small rattlesnake along the trail. I encouraged him to move along, once it was far enough away, I continued on.

The breeze kept the temperatures nice, along with the May Grey. I reached the viewpoint and snapped a few photos. I then decided to continue northward on the trail to investigate if there was a route to Peak 1820.

This trail wasn’t too bad compared to the mess on the way up. I eventually reached an unreadable sign and turn back. Along the way, I saw enough of a route to weave my way to the actual top of 1820. The views were nice, and since it was Star Wars Day, I needed to check on the availability of the special Lego set. I worked my back down the trail without incident. Although another car had parked at the trailhead, I never saw them.

Bernardo Mountain

Peak Name: Bernardo Mountain
Distance: 6.63 miles
Date: April 23, 2019
Summit: 1,150 feet

With my restarting of the 100 Peak Challenge, I needed to summit Bernardo Mountain again. Since it is so close to my home, I wanted to do this peak after work. Ted was available to tag along, so off we went.

As we crossed over the David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle Pedestrian Bridge, the water shimmered beneath us. Around us, the hills were still green.

The wide trail wraps around toward the west, crossing a small stream along the way. On this portion of the trail, you will encounter mountain bikers and other folks using the trail.

Soon after the stream crossing, you will reach the turnoff for the trail to the summit.

The trail begins its climb up the mountain from the northside. After a few steeper sections, you reach the summit. Here you are rewarded with some sweeping views of Lake Hodges.

We cruised back down, keeping an eye out for snakes along the way. The sun was just setting behind the hills to the west as we crossed back over the lake.

Clevenger Canyon-San Pasqual South Trail

Peak Name: Clevenger Canyon South
Distance: 5.0 miles
Date: March 31, 2019
Summit: 1,670 feet

Just past the San Diego Safari Park, are the trailheads to San Pasqual North and South. These trails are also referred to as Clevenger Canyon North and South. The south trail is the more visited trail of the two, in part for its views of the San Pasqual Valley and the famous chairs near the summit.

The south trail is well trafficked. Unlike the north trail, it does offer a bit more shade in a few spots. The parking for the trailhead is right after a bend in the road, to be prepared. If you miss it, continue on to the parking for the north trailhead and turn around there.

The actual summit that is listed on the 100 Peak Challenge is Peak 1755, which is not the peak at the end of the trail, but rather a bit before the famous chairs. Since I had other commitments this weekend, none of my remaining peaks were doable, so, I finally decided to formally summit Peak 1755, aka Clevenger Canyon South. I had read that portions of the trail had a nice display of wildflowers, and I was curious to see how it was recovering from the fire last summer.

Ted Markus and I headed up the trail. The fire scars were there. The burnt bushes dotted the hillside. The fire break could also be seen. However, we were surrounded by flowers as we worked our way up.

The stream was still trickling as we enjoyed the small section of shade. After a while, the flowers lessened as we kept climbing.

At the junction, we followed the use trail for a short jaunt to the summit of peak 1755. There is no benchmark nor register was located.

After rejoining the main trail we continued on to the chairs. The fire has destroyed the stairs to the chairs, so a little scramble is now required to reach them. The views did not disappoint.

We pushed on to the end of the trail before turning back. Coming back down we meet quite a few folks making their way up. Nice to have this peak formally done.

Clevenger Canyon-San Pasqual South Trail

Peak Name: Clevenger Canyon South
Distance: 5.0 miles
Date: August 6, 2017
Summit: 1,670 feet

Just past the San Diego Safari Park, are the trailheads to San Pasqual North and South. These trails are also referred to as Clevenger Canyon North and South. The south trail is the more visited trail of the two, in part for its views of the San Pasqual Valley and the famous chairs near the summit.

The day started off with a slight mishap, went I went to grab my water bladder, it had leaked! I apparently did not close it fully, so I headed back into Escondido and bought some water at the nearest store and high-tailed it back to the trailhead. It was August and it was going to get hot.

The trail works it way up the south side of the canyon, making a series of switchback until it starts to turn eastward. I crossed over a dry stream before working my way up another section of minor switchbacks. Finally, the chairs came into view!

Initially, you might wonder how much effort it would have taken to haul these two chairs up here, the material for the foundation and the stairs. Then you look to the east and see the house and private road…

The view from the chairs gives you a commanding view of the San Pasqual Valley. After soaking in the vista, I decided to follow the trail onto the north point.

I thought that the end of the trail was the destination for the 100 Peak Challenge. As I learned to use CalTopo and PeakBagger.com, I discovered the peak that I was supposed to have summited was a bump off to the south before the chairs.

Clevenger Canyon-San Pasqual North Trail

Peak Name: San Pasqual North Viewpoint
Distance: 4.1 miles
Date: July 22, 2017
Summit: 1,740 feet

Just past the San Diego Safari Park, are the trailheads to San Pasqual North and South. These trails are also referred to as Clevenger Canyon North and South. This trail descends down from the road past some granite boulders to Santa Ysabel Creek, which can either be a dry, sandy creek bed, a series of puddles, or a raging torrent depending on recent precipitation or lack thereof.

From the trailhead to the creek, you will see a fair amount of trash and graffiti. But once you begin the actual climb to the summit, these will fade away. The trail is not heavily trafficked so it can be slightly overgrown as you make your way up the switchbacks to the summit. Once there, you are rewarded with a nice view of the valley.

Bernardo Mountain

Peak Name: Bernardo Mountain
Distance: 6.63 miles
Date: April 30, 2017
Summit: 1,150 feet

Standing over Lake Hodges is Bernardo Mountain. This became another of my new trails once I moved to Rancho Penasquitos. This is a great hike without the crowds that swarm to Iron Mountain or Mt. Woodson. Starting from the parking lot on West Bernardo Drive, you soon cross the beautiful bridge over the lake.

With any luck, there will be water at this end of the lake. Many years ago, I was kayaking on Mother’s Day (with the wife’s OK) and stopped under the I-15 to call my mother, just because.

The trail wraps around toward the west, crossing a small stream along the way.

On this portion of the trail, you will encounter mountain bikers and other folks using the trail. But once the trail to summit breaks off from the main path and turns north again and away from the lake, the number of folks you will encounter will drop off.

The trail begins its climb up the mountain from the northside. After a few steeper sections, you reach the summit.

As a bonus, this summit is one of the five portions of the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy’s 2017 Coast to Crest Trail Challenge.