Peak 5,444ft P300 PD
Peak 5,060ft P300 PD
Peak 4,660ft PD
Peak 4,945ft PD
Middle Ridge P300

Thu, Apr 21, 2022

With: Tom Grundy

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX


For a second day, Tom and I were in the Laguna Mtns of San Diego County, visiting summits along the Pacific Crest, part of a long-term project of mine to visit all such summits in California. We had spent the night camped at Kwaaymii Point along the Pacific Crest Trail, found inside the Anza-Borego Desert State Park. There is a memorial wall found here, dedicated to fallen motorcyclists. A few PCTers came strolling by on their way north while we were getting our act together. I think this is the first time I actually car-camped right on the PCT.

Peak 5,444ft

This summit is found on the west side of Sunrise Hwy. We parked at the junction with Deer Park Rd, a spur road leading south through Rattlesnake Valley to the Lucky 5 Ranch. The Sunrise Trail starts from the same junction. The trail climbs to a saddle on the east side of Peak 5,444ft before turning north to descend back towards the highway. We left the trail at this point, with the rest of the short 1/3mi distance all cross-country, up slopes laden with brush. Careful route-finding can keep the bushwhacking to a minimum. We angled to the left to take advantage of granite slabs and boulders rather than the denser brush found on the direct line to the summit. Once at the 5,400-foot contour, the steep slope relents and the cross-country becomes much easier, almost trivial. We made the final approach from the SE and reached the highpoint in 35min. The summit boulders offer clear views above the surrounding brush. A register dating to 2016 had ten pages of entries. We returned via the same route, just over an hour total.

Peak 5,060ft

This summit is a few miles further north along Sunrise Hwy. We parked on the south side of the peak where the California Riding and Hiking Trail crosses the highway. The Pedro Fages Monument is located here. The hike is a little over half a mile each way, following the CARHT for most of this. The meadows on either side of the trail were green, with tiny yellow flowers adding some color. Where the trail turns to the east, we left it to follow a (mostly) brush-free drainage up to the northwest. A gopher snake trying to warm itself in the grass startled me until I realized it wasn't a rattlesnake. Near the top of the gully some modest brush is encountered, but once at the ridge the going becomes easy again. Mark Adrian had left a register in 2016. The notepad was damp and suffering mold/mildew, so we took a longer break than usual to allow it dry out in the sun. We returned the same way, taking an hour and ten minutes for the outing.

Peak 4,660ft

This one is found further north, on the eastern edge of the town of Julian. A telecom installation is found at the summit. The direct route from the north at the end of Country Club Dr is blocked by a fence where the last resident is located. His dog jealously guards the property. The better route is from the southeast at the end of Opal Dr. The road ends at a pad clearing for a house that is yet to be built. The view from the site is spectacular. It is an easy hike to the summit from there, taking only a few minutes. There are two cell tower installations. The older one is disguised as a tree, but has suffered wind damage. It may no longer be active. The newer one is housed inside a fake water tower that has no floor, revealing the electronics hiding inside. I suppose this helps Julian maintain its old-town charms.

Peak 4,945ft

This summit is found on private property just outside the northern boundary of William Heise County Park. It is very close to Sunrise Hwy and the folks who live near the summit along Pineoak Ridge Rd get there from the hwy. No such luck for the general public. We did what others had done, making the longish drive through Julian and around to the entrance to the county park and using the trail system. There was a $9 fee to use the park, primarily comprised of oak woodlands and chapparal. There are a surprising number of campsites available and probably popular in the summertime. We parked at the Desert View Trailhead and used that trail in a large loop around the park. The trail leads to a PB-only point called Glen's View. It is here that one can just barely see into Anza-Borrego to the northeast. Peak 4,945ft is found about a quarter mile northwest of this point, with an occupied home between them. Rather than possibly disturb the occupants which would have been both illegal and rude, we continued west on the trail system to a point where it gets close to an old road above. Here, the brush isn't so thick and the cross-country is pretty reasonable. Once at the road, we noted it hasn't been used for vehicles in years. We followed the road to a utility building. The highpoint is just west of this building under some trees. We were happy to find this very reasonable route to the summit without disturbing the neighborhood. After returning to the trail, we continued our loop back to the starting point, about an hour and a quarter all told.

Middle Ridge

After driving back out to SR79, I dropped Tom off at his truck. He had to get back to Orange County to pick up Iris from the airport. I had a bit more time before heading to San Diego, so I headed northwest for Middle Ridge. I first attempted to reach it via SR79 and Mesa Grande from the east, but the Mesa Truck Trail was gated near its junction with Mesa Grande Rd. I then drove back to SR79 and west on SR78 to approach from the south at Ramona. I followed paved Pamo Rd to Carney Canyon, then onto dirt Lusardi Rd (FR11S03). After 5-6mi, I came to the highpoint of the road where it goes over a saddle north of the summit before dropping down to Temescal Valley. I parked here to start the mile and a quarter hike to the summit along the ridgeline. An old road helps navigating through the brush, but it has been many years since last used by vehicles. I managed to lose it several times as it makes its way long the ridge or off to the east side. I would return to the ridge, finding heavy brush, boulders, and no small amount of poison oak to add to the complexity. I had expected this to be an easy one, but it was anything but. I went over a false summit along the way with a few pictureque trees growing from the large granite boulders. After almost a full hour, I finally reached the highpoint marked by a large bumpy rock where I found a register left by Mark Adrian in 2018. His was the only entry. Sandwiched between the higher Black Mtn to the southeast and Pine Mtn to the NNW, the views do not stretch more than about five miles in most directions. Lots and lots of chapparal-covered slopes everywhere. On the return, I did a better job of following the road, but I still lost it in a few places, or deliberately deviated from it when it was too overgrown. Back just after 4:15p, I decided I'd had enough for one day and headed to my Mom-in-law's place in Rancho Bernardo...


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