I Hike San Diego blog is a definitive guide to Hiking in San Diego. Brad Spiess, the author, is a personal trainer and one of his passions is hiking. As he goes on his hikes, he tries to gather information on the trail, the topographic map, photos of the trail and descriptions of the trail, and offer them on his blog for your enjoyment.
I was sad to see this story on another feed today, the roadway to the Palm Springs Tramway was washed out and has been closed indefinitely following Thursday’s storm ( on February 14th 2019) due to severe damage to Tramway Road, officials announced. If you where planning on doing any activities up in that area I’m afraid you are going to have to come up with a different plan.
It has been a while since I have hiked up El Cajon Mountain. It is a great area to hike, but I only enjoy it in the colder months and I tend to be busier with other winter actives or hiking out in the desert at that time of the year. When I was hiking on this trail more often I discovered the face of the mountain and it really added something special to the hike. Hiking up to the top may be an accomplishment for a lot of people but I found putting in that extra 2 miles out and back from the face just really changed the beauty of the hike for me and I started recommending that everyone add that extra little bit in to the hike for the pay off. So it is with a heavy heart that I tell you that this is technically no longer possible, unless you have written permission from the San Diego River Park Foundation before hand. The San Diego River Park Foundation contacted me to let me know of the change and this is what is listed on their web page on the subject.
Beyond Lakeside ceanothus, the Property holds a host of sensitive biological resources including golden eagles and coast horned lizards. Activities on this property focus on the preservation, restoration and enhancement of native species and habitats. Access to this property requires advanced authorization by the San Diego River Park Foundation. A sign is located on the Property informing visitors that this property is not for general public use.
Again as far I know this just pertains to the face of El Cajon Mountain and not the hole trail system as far as I know but I thought I would put this out there so everyone was aware of the changes to the status of the Face of El Cajon Mountain. I’m sorry to see these changes, but I do understand them and will respect them.
The view of Two Harbors and the blue green seas. A lot of boats where in the harbor for the Catalina Classic paddle board race which was happening the next morning.
I recently decided to take a little adventure over to Catalina Island, one of the Channel Islands off of the coast of Southern California. I hade never been there and my buddy was trying to figure out some hike to do to celebrate his upcoming 50th birthday, when he had asked me if I had ever been to Catalina and I said no, we knew where we had to go. There is a lot of good information on the internet about how to do this hike, and we did not do the whole thing, we decided to do 24 miles in 3 days from Avalon to Two Harbors. We had a great time and I think I came away with some unique insights into this hike that I had not read on other reviews. So read on and see if this is an adventure that you may want to take.
Recently a company contacted me about trying out their liquid meals and I thought it would be a good fit for this audience. It can be difficult to figure out what to bring with you for food when your out hiking, Nutberg just gives you another option, especially if your vegan or if you are on a long hard hike or backpacking trip and need light, easy to pack, nutrient dense meals.
This past weekend I decided to take advantage of the cooler weather and head out to the 3 Sisters Waterfalls to check out the new trail I had heard all about. At this time of the year you really are not heading out to see the falls in its full glory as you can see from the picture above, I was just going out to update the information on this hike.
The first thing I noticed when rolling up on the trail head was the change in the parking situation. It used to be that everyone parked along the road and sometimes you would see 50-60 cars parked along the tight corner. Now there is a dirt parking lot with Porta-Pottys, what a welcome change.
Parking at the old trail-head for 3 Sisters Waterfalls
The road where you used to park has a lot of no parking signs
The New Parking Lot for the 3 Sisters Waterfall Hike
The rest of the trail is just like it always was until you get to the area that you used to climb down ropes on. That is now sectioned off and the trail now continues along the side of the canyon until you come out at the middle waterfall and pool.
A view of the new trail vs the old trail system.
Another view of the new trail with a view of the old steep trail down the hill as well
3 Sisters Waterfall at the Middle Falls
I know some people will lament the loss of the rope area of this trail, and I will admit that it added a little something to the adventure of coming out to the falls, but I think what was lost was far outweighed by what was gained. Every time I would come out these falls I would see that the trail had further eroded and had become sketchier then the last time I had been there. With all the people who come out to this trail unprepared I can understand the need to soften up the experience a little. My only warning would be to whom ever decides what to do with this trail in its further upkeep. As I was sitting there talking with some hikers about the changes to the trail I could already hear people talking about heading back up the sketchier trail anyways ( I think it would take an exhaustive amount of work to make this section less alluring to those who want to challenge themselves. I’ve also noticed parts of the new trail that are already being cut through with short cuts and people who get a little lost when you get closer to the water fall ( just follow the pink ribbons) I would suggest a more permanent signage for the trail. All in all I think the changes are a welcome addition to this popular trail and I hope people enjoy the experience without ruining it for everyone else.
Hiking up Stonewall Peak trail in the Cuyamaca’s during sunrise.
We don’t get much of a winter here in San Diego, but when we do its a chance to get out and experience a little bit of winter hiking in the snow. Usually the snow level is not going to get really low here in San Diego, so when it snows the usual areas to grab a little hiking are going to be Mt Laguna, The Cuyamaca Mountians, and Palomar Mountain. Recently I got out to one of my favorite easy hikes for a little hiking in the snow : Stonewall Peak in the Cuyamaca Mountains.
Looking up at the top of Stonewall Peak from the bottom of the trail after a recent snowfall
Some things to keep in mind when hiking in the snow are:
If you are just starting out you may want to try hiking on a trail you are familiar with so that you are not trying to find the trail in the snow.
More then likely you will not need micro spikes or gaiters, but depending on where you are hiking it may still be a good idea to bring them if you are hiking in deeper snow or icy conditions.
You don’t want to necessarily put on the most insulated cloths, its better to layer so that you can add a layer if you need more heat and or take a layer off if you get to hot. I generally find that as I am hiking up hill I will produce more heat and therefore don’t need as much insulation, but when I get to the top of a mountain or I am on a exposed area with a lot of wind I will need more insulation, also as you go downhill during the 2nd half of the hike you will generally not be producing as much heat.
A pair of Trekking Poles is a god send while you are hiking in the snow to help keep your balance and let you utilize your upper body as well to help you climb, and to help decelerate as you are going down.
Even though it is cold and you are not sweating as much you can still dehydrate and this can cause fatigue and cramping. I experienced some cramping after this hike even though I knew better and keep telling myself to stop and drink some water my other competitive mind keep telling me to just keep going and we would have some water once I got back to the car. I payed for it later with about 10 min of abdominal cramping as I was trying to get back into my car after enjoying breakfast and coffee in Julian. Keep drinking your water, your body will thank you.
On the Stonewall Peak trail looking across the valley at Cuyamaca Peak lit up by sunrise.
Some areas to experience the snow around San Diego:
Mt Baldy – A great area to hike, but be cautious a few people have lost their lives on this mountain because of icy conditions in the recent years. The Mt Baldy Loop can be taken clockwise from the ski hut trail or counter clockwise from the ski area.
Looking down at Lake Cuyamaca during sunrise from the Stonewall Peak Trail
Getting up to the local mountains after it snows.
After it snows in our local mountains a lot of people can tend to head up there in order to enjoy the experience.
Make sure you have chains for your car, you may not even need them, but “its better to have them and not need them rather then need them and not have them”. Make sure to buy chains when you have some spare time and not at the last minute. Make sure they fit your vehicle. If they are the older type of chains you may need to take them in and get them fitted for your car. A lot of newer vehicles need a different type of tire chains and you don’t want to be running around like a mad man or women looking for them when everyone else that wants to go up as well. Better to just get them and have them sitting in your garage waiting for you to use them.
Bring some snacks for the drive, for yourself and or your kids. Beyond just bringing food for the hike, you may find that drive takes longer because of the snow and its much better to start the hike with energy then being drained when you get there.
Bring extra water ( and a thermos of hot coffee or hot chocolate ) for after the hike, it feels so good to get back to the car and have a hot drink, and along the earlier point you never know how long it may take you to get there.
Most defiantly bring a camera of some kind, your going to want to remember this.
Looking east at the sun rising over Mount Laguna from the top of Stonewall Peak.
Looking north from the top of Stonewall Peak after a recent snowfall. Lake Cuyamaca can be seen on the left while the mountains are lit by the sun rising in the east from the right.
So remember that you can a little taste of winter here in San Diego once in a while, and it can be a lot of fun. Just keep your eye on the weather and be properly equipped so that you may enjoy the experience.
Its amazing how much the landscape can change over the years, especially when there is a lot of human interaction with it. I would swear I had been up this hike 20 years ago and the climb up the back fissure was not as bad, but time and erosion have a way of changing things, I see it every year when I go to 3 Sisters and see how much worse the trail is from the previous year. With all that said, this is a great little adventure, just make sure to wear some long pants and long sleeves, your skin will thank you later. You will have to use your whole body at points in this hike / rock climb, but the view at the top is a great pay off. If you want more of an adventure follow the 2nd part of the Gaskill Loop as you bushwhack your way to the trail, if not so adventurous retrace your steps back down, either way this is a great adventure for your next weekend hike.
I love the idea of escaping the heat and heading up to San Jacinto for some hikes in the summer time. If your hiking plans include going up the Palm Spring Tram for this adventure I’m afraid you will have to wait until October as the Palm Springs Tram is closed for its annual maintenance from September 11th – 30th this year. There are so many other areas to enjoy the adventure, check out the rest of the site for ideas.
Looking towards Mt Langley from the top of New Army Pass
I Hike San Diego was recently added to a list of Top Outdoor Blogs you can read for inspiration in 2017
I’m always looking for inspiration for my next adventure. I use hiking books, websites, blogs, word of mouth, and forums to research and look for another adventure to test my self on all the time. My personal feeling is that you can never have enough information before you head out on your next adventure. I might look on one web site that gives me great information but find a little tid bit on another site later on that opens my eyes a little more or takes me in a different direction. So when you see a list like this of Top Outdoor Blogs from Shawn over at SmartLad its a great chance collect some more resources to use.
Lake #1 in the Cottonwood Lakes area and the first lake you come across as you crest the trail at 11,000 feet.
Another good hiking season is upon us in California. While it may be to hot down in the dessert, the high sierras are a great place to get up into the cooler air with green meadows and melting snow fields. There is plenty of water up there right now and you could not pick a better time to head up. My buddy’s and I went up towards the end of July. Our biggest mistake with this hike was trying to do it in one grueling 15 hour day. I gassed out just a mile or so from the top while my friends were able to make it all the way up, but all of us were completely exhausted after that grueling all day hike. I would suggest splitting the hike up and camping at one of the lakes before going for the top.