Van Dam Peak P300
Carmel Mountain

Apr 10, 2015

With: Jackie Burd

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2

Van Dam Peak

My daughter, now 16yrs of age, decided she wanted to join me for a hike while we were visiting grandma in San Diego - so as long as it wasn't too hard. I have no trouble finding silly little summits in most parts of the state and picked out a few she could enjoy without breaking a sweat. The first of these was Van Dam Peak, found near where Interstate 15 goes over Los Penasquitos Canyon. Located only a few miles from Grandma's house in Rancho Bernardo (just within the vast San Diego City boundary), the area has seen significant development over the past 20yrs, leaving only a small patch of Open Space around Van Dam Peak. There are various access points to reach the trail network, ours was from the north off Ted Williams Pkwy on Shoal Creek Dr. The hike was barely a mile in length, climbing an easy 350ft along the way. The summit is marked by a concrete pad that used to hold a communications tower. A couple of lawn chairs have been left in its place, a nice place to sit and have a beer with a couple of buddies while taking in the city lights on a warm summer night. Along with some creative graffiti, there was a Texas license plate planted near the top to amuse visitors. We spent just under an hour on this first hike.

Carmel Mountain

West of I-15, Ted Williams Pkwy becomes the SR56 freeway leading to I-5 and the Pacific Coast as it makes its way gently down Carmel Valley. Most of the valley on two sides has been developed, some of it quite recent, leaving only a small section of Open Space about half a mile on a side. The highpoint of this is Carmel Mountain which would more accurately be described as Carmel Mesa. On the south side is the brand-new Ocean Air elementary school and recreation center. There are several access points to the Open Space, though I was unaware this was even publicly accessible until we had made our way up the brushy concrete drainage system to discover the trails. Jackie wasn't particularly happy with me at this point since she had worn some pretty light clothing with intentions of working on her tan. Silly girl. She relaxed when we came upon the trail but declined to join me in the brushy hunt to find the highpoint, for which I could hardly blame her. There is no real highpoint, just a brush-covered mesa with few views of note due to the brush over head level. I found my way to the spot elevation indicated on the map and saved on my GPS, but found nothing of interest. Carmel Mountain turned out to be nearly a complete bust.

After returning to the car, we got lunch at a nearby sushi place. That part wasn't a bust, but to the contrary, one we both enjoyed a great deal...


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