Peak 1,220ft P300
Peak 1,492ft P300
Peak 1,953ft P300
Peak 2,066ft P300
Donohoe Mountain P300
Sycuan Peak P750
McGinty Mountain P300
Peak 1,358ft P300

May 20, 2022
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX


I headed down to Camp Rd (SR94) for another collection of peaks not far from the US/MX border. The weather today was cooler and overcast the entire day, allowing me to get to more summits than I had expected. It helped that all of the hikes were on the short side. As the peaks are further inland, the chaparral is not as thick as that found closer to the coast, but it can still be challenging. Border Patrol can be found on the highways and backroads, and there was often a helicopter overhead somewhere prowling around. Tattered daypacks, empty plastic bottles and food wrappers are common sights in the brush.

Peak 1,220ft

Located near the junction of SR94/Otay Lakes Rd/Honey Spring Rd, the summit is part of the Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve managed by the CADFW. The website says the reserve is open for special events only. I figured an early morning visit shrouded in fog might qualify as a special event. I parked off SR94 at a turnout about 0.4mi northeast of the summit. From the road, I dropped down to a small ravine and over a fenceline that parallels the roadway. I waded uphill through tall grass some 5ft high to gain the north ridge, then followed that up to the summit in 15min. There's more brush towards the summit, but no real bushwhacking required. There were some lovely yellow flowers carpeting the small summit plateau. It wasn't clear just where the highpoint was, but I didn't find the Mark Adrian register I was expecting in the likely places.

Peak 1,492ft

I drove about half an hour, further southeast on SR94, then south on the annoyingly washboarded Marron Valley Rd. The latter is primarily used to access the South Bay Rod & Gun Club, but there are various roads that can be explored, including the popular Otay Mtn Truck Trail. Overlooking Marron Valley and the Tijuna River, Peak 1,492ft is less than two miles from Mexico. I used Michael Sullivan's track starting from Marron Valley Rd about a mile past the gun club, following a use trail up to a saddle on the north side of the summit. Brushier use trails from the saddle lead to the summit. Views were hazy and the hills were all brown now, but I can imagine in early spring on a clear day it would be quite nice. To the northeast rises Little Tecate Peak, a summit I visited in 2014. It took less than 25min to reach the top. I left a register here before heading back the same way.

Peak 1,953ft

This is the next summit to the north of Peak 1,492ft. I had been on another Peak 1,953ft not 10mi from this one the previous day. This one is accessed from the gun club's large overflow lot on the east side of Marron Valley Rd. There are no use trails to be found. The brush is heavier than found on some of the other summits, but not bad, really. 30min was sufficient to see me to the summit. There is a good view of Otay Mtn to the west, but hazy today. Mark's small pad of register paper from 2018 had four pages of entries, all folks listing ascents on PB. I made some adjustments on the way back looking for a better route, but it turned out no better or worse.

Peak 2,066ft

These next two summits are accessed via the Otay Mountain Truck Trail. There is another access road called the Donohoe Spur Rd coming up from the northeast off Marron Valley Rd, but that was gated and locked when I checked it. This peak is not currently on PB, so I used a GPX track from John Kirk off LoJ, but I found it only mildly helpful. He visited a subsidiary Pt. 2,000ft+ to the west for reasons that were unclear. The satellite view suggests that point is brushier than Peak 2,066ft, so I doubt he found easier going. I found this a bit brushy in places, but there seemed to be enough open spaces to keep it reasonable. A trail of sorts that I followed east to start was really just for setting up hillside targets. Weaving around brush commenced soon after. The flowers that I waded through in some open sections stained my boots a yellow hue. Just over 20min to get to the summit where some moderately sized granite boulders hold the high ground. Mark had left another register here in 2018. John Strauch and the Monday Maniacs paid a visit in 2020. Like the previous summit, I tried variations on the way back with much the same results.

Donohoe Mountain

Less than a mile northwest of the previous summit, Donohoe was the easiest summit so far. A dirt road leads partway up the Southwest Slope, another target practice area. The hike is steep but took only 11min to reach the top. I did not find a register here and didn't leave one. I suspected it is too acccessible and a register wouldn't last long.

Sycuan Peak

I spent the next 40min driving back down to SR94, back to Jamul, and then northeast, eventually ending up on Lawson Valley Rd. The road goes over a saddle southeast of Sycuan's summit. Sycuan Peak is part of another state wildlife preserve. An old road, gated and locked, climbs from Lawson Valley Rd to the summit in about a mile. It is badly rutted but easy enough to hike on foot. I took 25min to make my way to the summit. There is a telephone pole just west of the summit (seems the road was built to reach it), marked as an airway beacon on the topo map. It does not appear to be operational, save as a perch for the feathered locals. No register on this one that I could find.

McGinty Mountain

McGinty Mtn is about 3mi west of Sycuan Peak, accessed from the south via paved Skyline Truck Trail. There is another old road running up to the summit, chained but unsigned at the pavement. It is in better shape than the Sycuan one, and has seen recent use. Ownership is unclear, but it doesn't seem like the public is unwelcome. 20min sufficed to see me to the top. No register here, either.

Peak 1,538ft

This was the easiest of the day, a drive-up. A home sits atop the highpoint of this developed hill on the north side of Jamul. The Vista Diego community of a dozen homes has a gate off Campo Rd, but it appears to be semi-permanently open. I drove up, turned around in the driveway, and headed back down. That was enough for one day...

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