Peak 1,184ft P300
Bear Ridge P500

Sun, Apr 17, 2022
Bear Ridge
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profile


I had spent the night camped at the west end of Rancho San Diego in a quiet spot away from town and the highway. I had tried several other spots (finding them a bit too open to discovery) before settling on this one. It is signed for No Trespassing, but its in an industrial area and there wasn't much around the small dirt clearing I camped at.

Peak 1,184ft

There really isn't much to recommend this one. The summit is part of a gated community, located a few miles southeast of El Cajon. A TR on LoJ conveniently pointed out unlocked pedestrian access on two of the access roads. I went in through the gate at the cul-de-sac on Burns Rd. The hike is about 0.8mi each way, on a wide, winding road that takes one through the upscale neighborhood. It was early morning on Easter Sunday, and no one was about, no vehicles, one barking dog. The grounds appear to be meticulously cared for. Not a single car was seen parked on the streets (probably against HOA). The highpoint is within a fenced water tank at the top of the hill next to a home. One can get fairly close by walking the perimeter of the fence to the south side. Views overlook McGinty Mtn and a great amount of suburban sprawl that creeps around most of the hills in the San Diego area. I returned back via the same route, again seeing and hearing no one.

Bear Ridge

I headed off to the San Diego Airport to pick up my wife - we were spending a few days with her mom for Easter. After a few hours of visiting, while the ladies took a noontime nap, I headed out in the afternoon to tag this summit, about 8mi northeast of Escondido. A whole bunch of folks have visited this summit, featuring more than 700ft of prominence. The summit and 2mi trail/road to reach it are just outside the San Pasqual Indian Reservation on land of uncertain ownership. It does not show up as USFS, BLM or state property, but there is no signage indicating private property. In fact, there is no signage at all, just an obvious pedestrian access portal next to the locked gate. There is a wide dirt clearing on the north side of Woods Valley Rd, opposite the trailhead. Another vehicle had pulled in just before me, but I beat them to the trail while they were applying sunscreen and never saw them after the first few minutes. The old road is pretty rough to start as it climbs steeply. It would be a pretty hairy ride in the Jeep if the locked gate didn't discourage me. Most of the ridge is covered in pretty heavy chapparal, making one thankful for the road, rough as it is.

After the first mile on the north side of the ridge, the road reaches a saddle on the ridge proper where it forks. One can go over the saddle and then southeast to reach the high valley between two ridges, or go over an intermediate bump along the ridge before descending to the same valley. I followed the route done by others from their GPX tracks, but the other option might be easier. The route climbs east through the small valley, through oak woodlands and grassy meadows before forking. The obvious well-trodden fork goes northeast to an old stone house in half a mile. I did this unintentionally because I missed the turnoff. The small rock and mortar house uses a large, upright granite slab for one of the four sides. There's not much left of the house, save for the four walls, an outside firepit on the south side, and a rusty bed spring dumped unceremoniously outside. I made an attempt to go directly to the summit from the stone house, but after discovering a good deal of poison oak lurking among the dense brush, I decided this wasn't a wise course of action, no matter how adventurous it might be. After backtracking, I found the continuing trail to the highpoint that I'd missed earlier - helped to have the track to figure out where I was because there are very few visual clues to one's whereabouts among the heavy chaparral. The trail skirts just below the summit on the south side, but luckily the cross-country travel here is not difficult. I found a register left by Terry Flood in 2013. Since then, he made at least four other ascents, and I sensed I was in his home territory. Summit views take in a lot of reservation lands, semi-suburban and rural neighborhoods, and lots of small, rocky peaks covered in typical Southland chapparal. I returned via the same route, finishing up in the warm afternoon sun before 3p. Time to get back to Rancho Bernardo before the ladies miss me...


Brian Browning comments on 05/09/22:
The neighborhood at the base of the mountain in photo 7 is where I live. Glad you made to my local P300!
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