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Hellhole Canyon Preserve is located in the north central part of San Diego County, adjacent to the San Pasqual, Rincon and La Jolla Indian Reservations. The only access (that I know of) is from the south. There is a popular 7.5mi loop hike that takes one down and across Hell Creek, then up to Paradise Mtn, fairly strenuous, but all on trail. In addition to Paradise Mtn, I was interested in unnamed Peak 3,458ft and Rodriguez Mtn, though I knew the later would be a stretch. I was hoping I would find a use trail branching off the preserve trail to make things easier. I did not, however. I had family business in Poway in the morning, so I didn't get started until 11:45a. I would have needed an early morning start to add Rodriguez to allow me to return before the park closed.
I spent an hour and a half making my way down to the creek and then up more than 1,300ft along various trails to the main crest. I turned off the trail before reaching Paradise Mtn - I would do that one on the return. I left the trail heading northeast and east, about 2/3mi along the ridge to Peak 3,458ft. It started off well enough, there were even useless ducks along a portion of it, but things got progressively brushier as I neared the summit, no use trail that I could discern. It took another 45min to cover the distance from the trail to the summit, not great by my reckoning. The additional distance to Rodriguez Mtn is about a mile, with a 400-foot drop followed by a 800-foot climb. The terrain looked rough and it smelled of epic-ness. I would need a much earlier start to do this one. I was resigned to turning back.
I found a Mark Adrian regiser from 2018 while I was taking in the views. After a nice visit atop the summit, I returned back along the ridge to regain the trail, then continued up to Paradise Mtn. There isn't much to the top, no summit block or obvious highpoint, just some rocks among a lot of chaparral. With hardly a pause, I continued west to Ditch BM, a PB-only point with little prominence. I decided to skip the other two PB-only points at the end of short spur trails, and continued down the main trail back to Hell Creek and the TH. I was back by 4:30p, making the total outing something less than 5hrs. Time to head back to Rancho Bernardo...
This page last updated: Thu May 19 15:24:27 2022
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