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Another warm day was forecast in the San Diego area, so once again I was up early to get a hike in before it became uncomfortable. I was returning to the Barona Mesa area which I had first visited two weeks earlier. Today's outing was inspired by a Mark Adrian GPX track from LoJ going to Peak 1,512ft. There were two other nearby points that I could add as well. The starting point is the popular San Diego River Gorge TH in the Cleveland NF. It is also called the Cedar Creek Falls TH because it is most often used to visit the falls of the same name located on the San Diego River. It is so popular that one needs to get a permit to visit the falls (available rec.gov), and the Forest Service has a TH host residing there to check for compliance. My route would not use the popular trail, but instead use the Gower Truck Trail, no longer open to vehicles. The truck trail connects the TH at the end of Thornbush Rd to the east with Barona Mesa to the west. The Borona Mesa highpoint and Peak 2,180ft are both located within the NF. Peak 1,512ft is located within the adjacent Capitan Grande Indian Reservation. There are no fences nor signs indicating the boundary between the two along the route I traveled. Peak 1,512ft is in a remote corner of the reservation, so it seems such measures are unnecessary and though technically trespassing, unlikely that anyone would care. This turned out to be a highly enjoyable outing.
I start up the Gower Truck Trail at 6a. The road is in good shape, paved to start, but quickly turning to gravel/dirt. Vehicles could still drive it, and it appears some Forest Service vehicles do. After only half a mile, I turned left onto a mountain bike trail, a little premature from the old spur Mark had used. The bike trail soon meets up with the expected road at a local highpoint not far from the truck trail. American and ukranian flags were flying from poles at this summit, a popular theme for 2022. I then followed the old road to Peak 2,180ft, about half a mile from the truck trail. This is the highpoint of the day's route. Fog that was still blanketing the valleys below was beginning to burn off early. To reach Peak 1,512ft, one has to descend nearly to the elevation of the San Diego River. I descended close to 1,000ft off the south side of Peak 2,180ft to reach a dry drainage near a saddle with Peak 1,512ft. After a climb of close to 400ft, I reached the summit of Peak 1,512ft about an hour and a quarter after starting out - much better than I had expected, thanks to the light brush that made the cross-country an enjoyable ramble. The summit has some pretty neat views of the San Diego River upstream and downstream as it passes around the base of the peak's east and south sides. Mark Adrian left a register here in 2018 with one other entry in the past four years.
So far, the outing was going quite well and I was feeling stronger than I expected. Of course, I had done only a fraction of the day's elevation gain, having reached a summit lower than my starting point. The real fun would begin after I had descended Peak 1,512ft and started back up to Peak 2,180ft. Even that went pretty well, despite the 1,000ft of gain in the morning sun without any sort of shade. I had originally planned to return to the TH and then drive around for a short approach to the Barona Mesa HP. After returning to the Gower Truck Trail, I noted that I was only about 0.8mi from the highpoint and could easily add it to the current effort. I turned left and followed the truck trail for another 2/3mi, then a quarter mile of easy cross-country to reach the highpoint that involved almost no elevation gain. The point sits just inside the edge of the NF, immediately adjacent to two homes in the rurual development. I'm not sure how LoJ arrived at this point for the highpoint, as it doesn't match a better candidate on the BGN page that LoJ links to. So it goes. After snapping a few photos, I returned back to the truck trail and followed it to the eastern TH I had started at, finishing around 9a. Just over three hours to cover almost 7mi and 2,000ft of gain.
This page last updated: Wed Jun 1 19:48:32 2022
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