Nielson BM P1K
Mt. Olympus P300
Angel South P1K

Mon, Nov 24, 2014
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 Profiles: 1 2 3 4


Nielson BM

This P1K is located just south of Temecula and east of the Interstate 15 corridor. The summit is located within the Pechanga Indian Reservation but they don't seem to pay much attention to this part of the reservation (if you haven't seen it, the Pechanga Indian Casino on the south side of Temecula is more like a Vegas-style casino than an Indian one. They happen to have a very nice location located next to large population center and must take in a great deal of money to keep all those lights on). I've been informed via email (see below) that this area is NOT open to the public. Just south of the summit and outside the reservation boundary is the Rainbow Conservation Camp, a low-security, all-female correctional facility run jointly by the CA Dept of Corrections and CalFire. When not fighting fires, the 100 inmates are kept busy with a variety hobbies, sports, and, according to their website, a sign-making shop. It appears that the inmates have also been trained in making trails, miles of them. The entire area between the camp and the summit, both inside the reservation and out, has a web of trails. The wood shop has provided a host of colorful trail signs, many involving "God", that mark the trails. Without a map however, it's a bit of a maze trying to find one's way through them to a particular objective (in my case, Nielson BM). I parked on the NE side of the camp just before a high wooden fence with construction traffic going in or out. A No Trespassing sign was torn and lying on the ground when I walked in. I asked the first person who drove by if it was ok to hike there and he didn't seem to see a problem with it. Later I found a shorter route follows the northern border of the camp to one of several trails starting up the hill through the reservation property, bypassing the area of construction to the northeast.

The trails in this area of brush and rock were quite nice and it appears a good deal of thought was taken in choosing the routes. Some pass through natural rock tunnels and steps which are quite interesting. The number of routes is far more than an area this size really needs, but I suppose it keeps the inmates busy. Though I had no map, it wasn't too hard to make my way north and west towards the highpoint. I eventually came across a sign with two trails, "Neilson" and "God" and though I felt like I should really favor the God Trail, I chose the Nielson one since it matched the name of the benchmark I was endeavoring to reach. It took just under an hour to find my way to the top where I found a very large summit block, perhaps 15ft high. The ammo box register and benchmark were both found on the south side of the massive block. The register was crammed full and I didn't bother to sign anything. I was more interested in seeing if I could find a way up the summit block. I circumnavigated it in a clockwise direction, finally coming to the north side which had the only reasonable route up without climbing gear or at least a top rope (there is an interesting corner fist crack on the north side). Here there are two thin cracks running up an angle of perhaps 45 degrees. I could just manage to get my finger tips in a few places on the right crack to help haul myself to the top. I'd rate it at class 3-4. The views atop were pretty much the same as those below the block, which were actually quite nice on a particularly clear morning. Interstate 15 stretched out to the south nearly to the ocean which could be seen as a dark blue line on the horizon. To the north stretches the Temecula metropolitan area which has grown significantly over the past 20yrs. I scurried back down via the same finger crack before starting my way back, returning to the Nielson/God junction and taking the God Trail on the return. This featured additional trail branches including "Face of God" and "Stairway to God". I looked for a "Stairway to Heaven" Trail, but it appears that one has not yet been constructed. Back at the north boundary of the camp, I was just in time to see several teams of orange jumpsuited inmates being led out onto the trail system. I considered briefly making my Stairway to Heaven request before thinking better of the idea. I think most of those girls could have beat me senseless.

Received via email regarding Nielson BM:

I recently finished reading your entry about climbing Mt Nielson in late November of 2014. I'm taking the time to write you to clarify some of the property boundaries.

First, I represent the property owner of the construction site that you happened upon. The areas prior to that fence are all owned by private residents, as is the fenced area. As you'd correctly mentioned in your entry, everything else is part of the Pechanga reservation. There is no public land in this area of Temecula.

While I understand you were told you could hike there, the area is indeed closed off to hikers. Not only do you have to cross private property to access the Pechanga reservation, but Pechanga has clearly stated that ABSOLUTELY NOBODY is to access their land, as they consider the area of Pueska peak and Mt Nielson to be the sacred birthplace of their nation.

Within the next few months, the area will formally be gated and fenced off. The only ones with prescribed access to the land are the inmates of the conservation camp and a few select neighbors who keep an eye out for riff-raff up there. I can't tell you how many times I've chased off stoners who want to go bouldering up there. The hikers who hike on this land have vandalized and littered in my property enough to make me shut it down indefinitely, regardless of the closing of Pechangas land.

We as the property owners have collaborated extensively with both Pechanga and the rainbow conservation camp to fight off all hiking rights assertions, and I just want to clarify to you so that you may change your writing entry.

I am going to ask that you revise your article to disclose that this property is indeed closed to the public, as well as take down the pictures of the construction site that you took while trespassing on my property. Please also disclose that all trespassers are on camera and WILL indeed be prosecuted.

We will not prosecute you, nor do we wish to at this time. I am completely understanding that a misinformed individual told you that you could hike; that's totally fine, I will be sure to speak with everyone about it. No harm, no foul. Just be sure to change your article enough the disclose the nature of the property.

Thank you for your tact and understanding. I wish you the best in your adventures.

Mt. Olympus

As I was driving out from the work camp I noticed this nearby summit on my GPS. It seemed I was rather close and thought I might see if I couldn't add it as a bonus. Mt. Olympus Valley Rd forks east off the main Rainbow Heights Rd, leading to a large homesite at its end. The site features its own go-cart track, a lake, and citrus groves, among other ammenities. At the south end where I parked is a dirt road that climbs higher towards Mt. Olympus, primarily to service the transmission towers that run across the ridgeline. I followed the easy roads up to one of the two highest towers, still several hundred feet below the summit. My first effort at diving into the brush to find a way through quickly became a dust-choked affair, crawling through dry, brittle underbrush before giving up. My second attempt made use of what looked like a cut trail through the initial bank of brush to reach easier rock slabs not far above. This proved to be a much easier route (I even came across an old fire ring on my way up this side) and I was on the summit about 50min after starting out. I found a few reference marks (but couldn't find the benchmark they pointed to), but no register. A few class 3 rocks sticking out of the brush provided a platform from which to get views - Palomar Mtn to the east, northwest back to Nielson BM. On the return I tried to take several other forks in the road for variety, but both of these dead-ended and I had to backtrack to the original route.

Pine Mountain/Angel Mountain

My next objective was only 20 air miles to the southeast but it took me nearly 2hrs of driving. Half of this was spent trying to take some backroads back out of the Rainbow area where they go through some large avocado ranches on very steep hillsides, but none of the roads I tried would lead me down to SR79. I ended up finding Rice Canyon Rd, the very road I had found in the dark to sleep along two night ago, which would lead me down to SR76. Pine Mountain is located less than three miles south of SR76, but according to Mark McCormick, a difficult and much coveted summit. Comprising private ranchlands, it is bordered by reservation to the north and national forest to the east. I had hoped to make use of an access road off SR76 inside the La Jolla Indian Reservation but I found this gated and heavily signed for No Trespassing. I had not come prepared for other options and quickly gave up the effort. Angel Mtn is about 5mi SSE of Pine Mtn, just west of Lake Henshaw and also in private hands. Paved Mesa Grande Rd leads up from SR76, with the dirt Angel Mtn Rd forking off from it. So far so good. I was doing pretty good getting the van up this sometimes steep road until I ran into a locked gate where it runs through a private ranch. I parked a short distance back from the gate and started on foot up the initially grass and oak hillsides, but only made it about 1/2 of the mile and a quarter distance to the summit. The grazing lands gave way to brush that was just too troublesome for me to continue. Maybe if I had someone to whack through with me I'd have found it more tolerable, but I decided to turn back.

Angel South

Back on Mesa Grande Rd, I continued on the loop road into the Indian San Ysidro Reservation, finding dirt Quail Springs Rd that leads up and around the north side of officially unnamed Peak 4,481ft. Mark had referred to this as Angel South the day before, so I kept the name to use here. Like Angel Mtn, it is also a P1K, only this one is entirely inside Indian lands. There are a few scattered homesites along the road, but no gates or other barriers to public entry. On the north side of the summit I parked at a spur road that leads higher, one I didn't think the van could negotiate. The distance was only 2/3mi to the summit from this point. The road led up to the east side of the summit, with some 300ft of elevation remaining that would have to be done cross-country. Luckily this was a much better affair than that on Angel Mtn with some grassy sections that could be linked together to make it fairly easy. The summit itself was a bit of a brushy mess and I wandered around over fallen logs and underbrush looking for the highest point which I think I found where a rock had been placed atop a fallen tree. Yay. Not much in the way of views, this one, but easy enough. I was done by 3:15p, having spent all of 40min in the effort.


Mark comments on 12/04/14:
You need to plan your next San Diego visit for a full moon. Next time you are in the area, let me know, I would like to get Pine and Angel.
Mark comments on 05/30/15:
Hmmm, now I wonder what is Pueska peak? Peak 2256? Or maybe Rainbow Peak?
It's west of I-15 near Rainbow.
theronmoon comments on 02/06/18:
Pine BM has tremendous views. Pretty tough to get access.
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