Monument Hill LPC
Mesa de Burro
Peak 1,070ft P300

Sat, Dec 23, 2017

With: Jackie Burd

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2

A year ago, the Sierra Club's LPC section decided to add another summit to their peak list, an exceedingly modest summit in the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve. I was down in the San Diego area for the Christmas holiday, about an hour's drive from the reserve, so headed up there to pay it a visit. My daughter joined me for the morning hike in the reserve but declined for the afternoon one.

Monument Hill / Mesa de Burro

We drove up I-15 to Wildomar where we turned southwest onto Clinton Keith Rd, driving to the Visitor Center just past the junction with Avenida La Cresta. There's a $4 per person charge to visit the reserve that no one actually checks to see if you've paid. I found this arrangement so refreshingly trusting that I happily went inside and paid the fee to the cashier. We then set off on the trail system, Jackie our designated navigator with map in hand. This was her first time in this role and she did quite well, not missing a turn at the numerous junctions. We found a couple of benches atop Monument Hill, overlooking the ecological reserve. The area is brown and dormant as it waits for the seasonal rains to return, not looking very pretty at this time of year. A mile to the east was bonus peak, Mesa de Burro, that we visited as well. There's no trail going to the top, but we found a game trail that worked well enough. The summit is flat, much as one would expect from the name, no more special than Monument Hill. We spent over two hours covering the 6mi around the trail system (almost no elevation gain), an easy enough way to spend the morning.

Peak 1,070ft

After driving back to Rancho Bernardo (with a stop at the Honey Baked store to pick up a ham), I dropped Jackie off and went east to the Poway area to tackle an unnamed summit in there. This turned out to be slightly trickier than I had expected. There is a road leading to the water tank at the summit, but access is a bit tough since the Heritage community is gated and not exactly welcoming. I drove next door to the Madera Golf Course to hike from there. This involved hiking a good distance along the various golf cart paths. I was doing a good job keeping out of the way of those playing the course, but managed to draw the attention of the course marshall who drove up in his cart to ask if he could help me. About 10yrs my senior, he was a kindly man and we got on well. He was surprised to find out I was just there to hike and incredulous when I told him where I was trying to get to. "You can't climb up there!" he exclaimed, and it took a bit of effort to convince him I was not only serious, but capable as well. I was only 15min from the summit at this point and found it very amusing that he thought it so difficult. "You're in better shape than me!" He ended up giving me a ride in his car through the rest of the property for my own safety. I assured him I would return via another route to keep him from having to rescue me a second time. He dropped me off at the highest point and after crossing a brushy dry gully, I landed on a dirt road. This turned out to be the Old Coach Trail which can be accessed from a TH about a mile down the road from the golf course. So it appears that one can legally access the area and the summit with proper planning. I took the trail to the adjacent neighborhood (very nice homes here) and followed the service road to the water tank at the top. The north side of the tank has a class 5 rock that I thought was the highpoint. The granite was a bit friable, making it a bit sketchy, but I found a way up without hurting myself. Only after descending and walking around the tank did I discover that the highpoint is on the south side, an easy walk-up. I took a few pictures overlooking the developing landscape (they always seem to have new housing developments going up around every peak I visit in the San Diego area) before heading back down through the gated community. Silliness over, I returned to the family in Rancho Bernardo...

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