Archive for February, 2010


Last week I saw a picture on flickr of Mission Trails Regional Park post-rain.  Inspired by the vibrant green on the hillsides I knew that I would want to hit the (muddy) trails after yesterday’s storm.  Sure enough, when I reached the trailhead off of Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, the hills were covered with green vegetation.  And sure enough, the trails were muddy, but they didn’t thwart my plans to enjoy the parks’ trails and views.  I started out at 8:30am underneath patchy skies and warm temperatures.  I passed one mountain biker and only a few hikers as I made my way to the South Fortuna saddle.  The valley and the hills were gorgeous and I thanked the rain gods for painting the hills with such beautiful colors which we seldom see here in San Diego. 

Mission Trails Regional Park

After sweating my way up to South Fortuna Mountain I paused and marveled at the views of east San Diego. 

South Fortuna Mountain on the left

East San Diego

I continued on to North Fortuna Mountain and then back to the trailhead.  I highly recommend enjoying the lush vegetation before it turns to the typical southern California brown.  And as many outdoor blogs have already posted, this wet winter should make for a spectacular spring!

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Bishop Peak and downtown San Luis Obispo

As a Valentine’s/Chinese New Year’s Day hike, I decided on a local trail near the city of San Luis Obispo before my long return drive to San Diego.  The trailhead is right off the freeway and can be easily missed so beware.  It was really windy when I parked my car around 7:00am and I was glad I had my windbreaker with me.  There are two routes to the peak and I took the route that wraps around the west side of the mountain.  When reaching the fork near the red bridge, bear left and continue past the gate.  From there you’ll ascend up the west face and you’ll come around in view of Bishop Peak, another popular hike, but I didn’t do because it was too crowded.  I loved how the fog hugged the mountain ranges and was really glad I concluded my trip with views of the city.  As I returned to the parking lot, a mountain biker asked whether I had bricks in my backpack.  I said I didn’t know how long the hike was going to be and I later realized that all one needs is a water bottle and a camera, but since I was from out of town I had my 10 hiking essentials just in case.  Thank you San Luis Obispo for a great weekend!

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After a few hours on the rugged coastline, I decided on an afternoon hike with views of the inland valleys and morros.  The Day Hikes Around San Luis Obispo book mentioned a peak with 360-degree views of San Luis Obispo County, so I ventured to the Cerro Alto campground in Atascadero.  Atascadero is about 30 minutes north of San Luis Obispo and the campground is off highway 41, the highway which leads to Morro Bay.  I parked in the parking lot, paid the $5 fee, and displayed my Adventure Pass, (the campground is in the Los Padres National Forest) which I was fortunate to bring along.  The beginning of the trail is near campsite 19.  The first mile ascends up through live oaks, ferns, and a flowing river.  A very shady trail compared to the hikes in Montana de Oro.  I reached the junction with the At&T cable trail and headed west.  For a good portion of the hike I had to consult the guidebook because I kept wondering if I was on the right trail.  (I would recommend xeroxing a copy of the maps rather than bringing along a hefty book).  The trails are well marked, though.  I caught myself stopping every 20 minutes to take in the views of the rolling green hills.  About 1 mile before reaching the summit, the winds picked up and I put on my windbreaker.  At the last junction, I met a couple of hikers with their dog.  One hiker was wearing a Sierra Nevada T-shirt and I was hoping he had some cold brews on hand!  We chatted for a while and then I pushed on.  Wow!  The views from the summit are spectacular!  I ate my mini Green and Black’s dark chocolate bar to warm up and get a caffeine kick, took plenty of pictures and thanked the mountain gods for the views of Morro Bay, Cambria, Chorro Valley and the Santa Lucia range.  I highly recommend this hike.

From Cerro Alto Peak, 2,624'

Morro Bay

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After my morning cup of Joe and cranberry scone from the downtown cafe, Black Horse Uptown Bakery/Cafe, I was ready to explore some more of Montana de Oro SP.  I decided on the Valencia Peak trail, hoping for some spectacular views of the coastline again.  I arrived to the parking lot (near the visitor’s center) around 8:00am, strapped on my boots, got my gear ready and breathed in the morning beach air.  The Valencia Peak trail is quite a hike, gaining some 1,150 ft. in elevation in about 2 miles.  The hike along the ridgelines with views of the canyons below was breathtaking.  Again, the views of the park, Morro Bay, and Los Osos Valley were spectacular!  One can continue to Oats Peak, the second highest peak in the park, but I decided to return to the trailhead and hook onto the Bluff Trail.  I noticed more cars in the parking lot and realized that people start turning up around 10:00am.  Glad I got here early!  The Bluff Trail is relatively flat and I had to stop every 10 minutes to take photo shots of the jagged coastline, sandstone cliffs and splashing waves.  In fact the waves were really high!  The trail is about 2 miles round trip with many coves, reefs, and tidepools to explore.  I highly recommend hiking to the peaks first and then concluding with the Bluff Trail.  Great way to bring closure to this gem!

View from Valencia Peak

Rugged coastline

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