Black Mountain 2x P900 SDC
Mt. Israel 2x P300 SDC
Mt. Helix P500
Dictionary Hill P500
Peak 906ft P300
Peak 1,525ft P300

Sat, Apr 16, 2022

With: Tom Becht
Iris Ma
Tom Grundy
Jeff Moffat

Black Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 6 GPXs: 1 2
Black Mountain previously climbed Sun, Dec 24, 2006
Mt. Israel previously climbed Sat, Dec 20, 2008


On an extended roadtrip, I had traveled to San Diego for several reasons. On Sunday I would be picking up my wife at the airport and then spending several days with her mother for the Easter holiday. Suggesting to TomB that this would be a good time to schedule his SDC list finish, he found a way to arrange things just so. TomG and Iris came down from Bishop for just this event, while others traveled even further. Tom had left Black Mtn and Mt. Israel near Rancho Bernardo as the last two summits for the list finish. We would have about seven folks for the first hike and about ten for the second.

Black Mountain

I had climbed this back in 2006 with daughter Jackie, then a 7yr-old. It is located southwest of Rancho Bernardo in the Black Mtn Open Space Park. Accessible via mutiple routes, Tom had chosen the Hilltop Community Park on the south side as our starting point. I was one of the first to arrive for the planned 7a start. Skies were overcast and would threaten rain, though none would fall. A group had collected and readied for the hike at the allotted hour. The chosen route climbs 750ft over the course of about 2mi along dirt roads, taking us about 50min. The summit is crowned with a large telecom complex, fenced to keep out the riff-raff. TomB climbed the highest thing we could find outside the fence to call it good. The summit was just above the bottom of the cloud layer, leaving us no views from the top. The return went the same way, getting us back by 8:45a.

Mt. Israel

Mt. Israel is the highpoint of the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, northwest of Rancho Bernardo. We were supposed to start at 9a, but the Black Mtn hike took longer than expected. Our additional companions were waiting for us when we arrived, showing mock disdain for the non-prompt start. This effort was a bit more involved, 2mi each way with 1,200ft of gain, but well within range of our weakest member. That person might have been TomB, who was tasked with carrying all the beer for his own list finish at the summit. Mt. Israel's summit is more interesting than Black Mtn's, not least of all because there was no telecom towers. There was a summit kiosk, a shaded bench and a memorial pole from which hung dozens of dog collars for the fallen hiking companions. An Eagle Scout project had erected a view scope to the surrounding terrain, and it was here that the beers were unleashed as Tom made it to his last SDC summit. Well done, Tom!

Mt. Helix

There was merriment at the Stone Brewing World Bistro in Escondido after we had all returned safely from Mt. Israel. Caren was there with all three dogs who seemed to enjoy the festivities as much as anyone. Afterwards, we were turned out on the street to continue on our own adventures.

I headed south towards San Diego since I would need to be at the airport in the morning. I found a handful of easy summits to fill the rest of my afternoon. Mt. Helix was the most interesting of these. It lies just east of La Mesa and has been mostly developed for residential use. There is a small park at the summit with a large white cross and an amphitheater used for Easter Sunrise Services going back decades. As it was the day before Easter, the place was busy with preparations and parking was non-existent. I parked illegally and dashed up to get a photo of the scaffolded cross under restoration and a few view shots before returning.

Dictionary Hill

This small hill is an undeveloped parcel sandwiched between the Spring Valley and La Presa communities. I approached from the north at the end of Ivy St. It's not well-signed, but the ones I found as I started up indicated it's part of an Open Space Preserve. There have been no provisions for parking lots and such and it seems to be mostly intended for the surrounding residents. Trails are really just motorcycle tracks that have rutted the slopes from previous use before the preserve was created. It takes less than 10min to reach the flat summit that was bulldozed in a past life. Mt. Helix can be seen to advantage to the north, San Miguel Mtn to the southeast.

Peak 906ft

This is the highpoint of a private residential community. Following suggestions found on PB, I attempted to simply follow one of the resident's through the gate. Suspicious, the guy in front of me stopped just past the lowering gate arm, forcing me to stop and have the wooden arm come down on the Jeep's hood. Clever, that guy. It took me four tries before I was able to make it work and get inside. The highpoint is found at the end of Crystal Clear Dr. Yay.

Peak 1,525ft

This was the most pleasant hike of the day, mostly because it was in the late afternoon's wonderful lighting. The summit is found a few miles northeast of San Miguel Mtn with much of the surrounding land part of an indian reservation. I drove Proctor Valley road to the south side of the mountain where a small, rural community is found at the edge of the reservation. I parked at the end of Echo Valley Rd where signs indicate no motorized vehicles, but does not prohibit pedestrian and equestrian use. I used a combination of unmaintained trails and cross-country to make my way to the open summit in 30min. Views are quite nice around the chapparal-covered countryside. Richard Carey left a register here in 2018 with only a small handful of other entries. It was after 7p by the time I found my way back to the Jeep. I had to drive off to find a suitable place for a jug shower, then off to Rancho San Diego for dinner. Afterwards, I found a very quiet spot near the SR54/SR94 junction to spend the night...


BrianB comments on 05/07/22:
I've been following your site for years, ever since your Rainer Trip Report, from the East Coast and flat lands of Texas. My in-laws live in SD which facilitates some small trips. And I'm happy to see I finally beat you to one. My son was thrilled seeing his signature online. Cheers!
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