My wife and I headed to Pismo Beach for a short vacation during
Easter break from school. We stayed a night in Paso Robles and
several more in Pismo Beach. Between the two, I took her on a
Jeep ride into the Santa Lucia Range above Santa Margarita and
Pozo. Once in Pismo Beach, I went on a bike ride to tag a third
summit in Nipomo while she went outlet shopping.
This small hill with little prominence is found on the northwest
side of Paso Robles, on private property. Julie Ann Gregg had
pioneered a route from the east starting at the end of 21st St.
here blocks vehicle traffic, the road continuing up a short
distance before it ends short of Norn Hill. Not shown in the
satellite view, and probably not there when Julie visited in 2017,
is a trailer parked up at a clearing. The fence is now more
formidable, designed to keep deer and people out. Rather than go
over the fence, I discovered an alternate in the drainage just
left of the gate. Careful to avoid poison oak lurking in the
oak forest understory, I hiked up the grassy drainage
the property boundary. I reached the point where the property
fence turns a corner and hiked directly up
to the highpoint of
Norn Hill - no need to cross any fences, no signs of any kind. The
top is terribly uninteresting, weak views
and mostly surrounded by rural homesteads.
This was the unnamed summit on the miles-long ridgeline that is
Garcia Mountain in the Santa Lucia Range. The wife and I drove
Pozo Rd through Santa Margarita and then another 12mi to the
Forest Service's Hi Mtn Lookout Rd. The road is in good shape all
the way to Hi Mtn. We turned off before this, at a junction with
the Garcia Mtn Trail. This is a pretty rough
Jeep trail (though brush is well-groomed) that made
for some great fun, with great views. It was the first time my
wife had been in the Jeep off the pavement and made for an
exciting introduction. The road is quite steep in places, rocky
in a few, and definitely required 4WD and all the high-clearance
I could muster (I bottomed out lightly a few times). We drove the
first three miles of this road to the top
of unnamed Peak 3,065ft
where we parked and claimed the summit. The views were somewhat
hazy, typical for the area. One can see the Pacific Ocean to the
southwest along with the Pismo Dunes. Most of the views take in
the chaparral-covered hills
of the surrounding Santa Lucia Range,
some of the densest such terrain found in the state.
The road continues for
another couple of miles before ending at the Wilderness boundary,
but we didn't drive this extra distance. My wife said she enjoyed
the adventure, but her stomach would be ready for a break by the
time we got back to the junction with Hi Mtn Road. Once there,
we turned left and drove the road across the range into Arroyo
Grande and then Pismo Beach.
This is a minor summit near the small town of Nipomo along US101.
The summit is part of a large avocado orchard.
Due to the high value
of the crop, the orchard is mostly surrounded by high fences. My
first effort to reach the highpoint some years back was stopped
when I reached the locked gates along Chesapeake Pl to the
northwest. More study of the satellite view found that the summit
is close to the edge of the property, so a second effort a few
years later approached from the west via Pomeroy Rd. I had hoped
the old homestead found on this side of the farm was abandoned,
but that wasn't the case and I retreated, foiled a second time.
More study was needed. This third effort approached from the
south through the Blacklake Golf Resort, though probably not
necessary. I rode the bike from Augusta Dr along the golf path,
about a quarter mile until I was at the border with the adjacent
homestead property to the north. Where the path comes close to an
old ranch road, I walked the bike onto the ranch road and followed
it west down a drainage to a locked gate, long abandoned.
the bike here and continued walking down the old road another
quarter mile. It appears this is part of the farm property not
under cultivation. When I reached the beginning of the orchards,
I turned north and followed the edge of the trees along another
old road, also abandoned. The large trees were heavy with
each holding many hundreds. Many others were lying
about the ground. The route led nicely
to the highpoint found near the intersection of the old road with
a newer one. Here there were signs of recent and continuing work
and I wouldn't have been surprised to see someone working nearby
or driving through on an ATV. I paused only briefly to take a
picture of the highpoint
under the trees, then beat a retreat.
On the way back I discovered I didn't need to go through the golf
course at all. I followed the old abandoned road back out to
Pomeroy Rd where it shares the same
entrance as the adjacent
homestead (currently being sold). Even though it was hardly a
memorable summit, I rather enjoyed the effort it took me to
finally reach it...