Peak 2,260ft P300
Silverdome P300

Sun, May 15, 2022
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These two summits are located in the El Capitan Open Space Preserve. I had hiked here many years ago, around 1992, long before I was keeping ascent records. At the time, I was using Jerry Chad's guidebook for San Diego County and was following it for El Cajon Mtn. Someday I'd like to recreate that outing, about 14mi with 4,000ft of gain, but today would not do. It was expected to reach above 90F in the area, so I planned a much shorter outing that I could do before it got too warm, about 4mi all told. The peaks I had in mind were on either side of the main trail. There were various reports on PB for both of these, some describing moderate bushwhacking, others more serious. Luckily the cross-country portions are short and not bad at all, by my estimate.

I was up early, and after a 25min drive to the TH, was ready to go at 6:20a, shortly after sunrise. The first part of the route is pretty mundane, following an easement up dirt and cement portions of a road that services various properties. Just past the Blue Sky Ranch, the preserve boundary is reached. There are restrooms and a covered picnic site. It looks like this was the parking lot at one time, but with so little space available and the preserve's growing popularity, a larger lot was built back at Wildcat Canyon Rd. That lot doesn't open until around 7:30a, so anyone wanting an early start needs to park on the street. There were more than a dozen cars already there when I arrived, a little surprising, but they must also have consulted the weather report.

From the preserve boundary, one can follow the road or trail up to a saddle on the north side of Peak 2,260ft. The two routes join back here. Downhill a short distance to the east, a trail junction is reached. I followed the Pala Ranch Trail to the right, following it around to another saddle on the SE side. I went up from here, much as other did. Though much of the brush is over head level, there are semi-clear stretches underneath that make this easier than it first appears. I would give it a moderate rating. It took less than 15min from when I left the trail junction, so not bad at all. The summit has an easy class 3 summit block, accessed from its east side. The block gives nice views above the surrounding brush. If there was a register here, I didn't find it.

I returned back down the same way, then back to the main trail that I followed east. Silverdome is another half mile further along the trail. There are several use trail through the brush from the main trail to get you to the base of the peak. The right side of the Southwest Ridge has brush-free granite slopes leading nearly to the top. The granite slabs are partially covered in cyrptobiotic soils best not tread on since they are easily degraded. A use trail can be found working its way up through this. The brown soil is evident instead of the gray (more greenish in the wet season) cryptobiotic stuff. Others have reported heavy to moderate bushwhacking near the top to reach the summit boulder. There is a use trail through the brush if one looks closely, requiring only modest thrashing. Again, it was less than 15min from the trail to the summit.

Mark Adrian had left a register here in 2017, now with five pages of entries. Most are the expected San Diego suspects, but I was surprised to see that my Bay Area compadre, Karl Fieberling, had made an appearance. There is a nice view looking north to Barona Valley. Views east would be better at times other than early morning. After returning to the trail, I headed back to the TH, passing by half a dozen other parties getting a later start. It was already 75F when I finished around 8:20a, two hours after starting out. I suspect few of the late starters will make it all the way to El Cajon Mtn, but props for trying. I would call it a day and head back to Rancho Bernardo.


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