Archive for October, 2009
I woke up this morning itching for a short, close-to-home, strenuous hike and so I decided on the trail from Lake Poway to Mt. Woodson. The last time I was there was in June. Nothing had changed much, but I did notice new trail markers. The trail is about 6.2 miles round trip with an elevation gain of over 2,000 ft. It’s mainly an open-to-above trail with huge boulders near the summit and spectacular views. I recommend this hike for anyone interested in giving their legs a good workout.
Nancy and I met at a Park-n-Ride in Lakeside at 8:00am on Saturday morning and we were quickly on our way to the Laguna Mountains for a fall hike. It was overcast when we left the lot, but as we approached Pine Valley the skies had cleared and the sun was out. Amazingly for the first time in my life I saw a fox! It quickly sped across Sunrise Highway. We reached the trailhead a little after 8:40 (past mile marker 19) and we were on the trail by 8:45. My plan was to combine the Big Laguna Trail with the Sunset Trail to cover about 8-10 miles. Nancy had never been here before and I was looking forward to showing her the varied terrain. We hiked through pine forests and open meadows, and admired the changing color of the leaves. Temps were in the high 50s with light winds, ideal hiking conditions.
After about 1.5 miles we reached the Water of the Woods, a small watering hole. From here I wanted to make a right turn, but a herd of cows were on the trail so we decided to cut across the meadow and hike along the south side of Laguna Lake, which was rather dry. We passed the El Prado Group campsites and then connected back to the Big Laguna Trail and went north. Many couples and families were out walking their dogs. Beware of the mountain bikers. Luckily the Sunset Trail is prohibited to two-wheel vehicles. We went south on the Sunset Trail and got awesome views of the mountains and the meadow.
There is more elevation gain on this trail, but nothing strenuous. I liked this trail better than the BLT as it was peaceful, dotted with boulders, oaks and pines. Towards the end of our hike we noticed more fall foliage.
We returned to the trailhead a little after 1:00pm. The sides of the road were packed with cars, mostly mountain bikers. Before heading home we decided to continue north on Sunrise Highway and I’m glad we did! The trees were beautiful! I’ll have to make a return trip next weekend to take more pictures. And fortunately this road was a lot less congested than Highway 78, the route to Julian! Along the road we noticed a viewing area, so we stopped to take a look and this is what we saw:
My Sunday hike intentions were to park at Paso Picacho Campground in Cuyamaca State Park and bag Cuyamaca Peak and Stonewall Peak. But I was $5 short of the entrance fee. So my second plan was to hike in the Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve, but a herd of cows were hogging the trail. My third plan was to hike in the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve. Success. I had hiked here before with my mom last year so I was familiar with the trail. It is a well-maintained trail dotted with oak woodlands and an evergreen forest on the higher ridges. It’s about an 800 foot climb to the summit, 5-mile roundtrip. As you approach the summit you are greeted with great views of the town of Julian and the rolling hills. The weather today made my short hike feel like fall. I knew that there was a 20% chance of rain, but I did not anticipate strong winds, which were about 30-40mph. With temperatures in the high 40s – low 50s, the wind chill made my hike a lot colder! As I was nearing the summit however, the winds were picking up speed and there were a couple of times when I had to crouch low because I felt as if I were getting blown over. I made the wise decision to return to the trailhead rather than risk being blown off the mountain. And I had been to the summit before so it was no disappointment. I had at least gotten away from the city and felt the crisp fall air bite my cheeks. As I descended to the trailhead under sunnier skies, I warned a couple of intrepid hikers of what lay ahead.