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Palomar Mountain (High Point)

 

Trail Stats

 

Distance - 13.5 Miles

Elevation Gain/Loss - 3600 ft.

Max Elevation Reached - 6118 ft.

Difficulty Level - Strenuous

Trailhead - Link. See below for details.

 

Track

 

  

Download Google Earth KML - Link

Download GPX - Link

 

Description

   

This hike takes you to the highest peak in the Palomar Mountain range. It starts at the Oak Grove Fire Station's parking lot and ends at a fire lookout tower on the summit. The tower can also be reached using a 4WD vehicle with the right amount of clearance.

 

While getting to the parking lot is not difficult, it can be a bit tricky finding the exact trailhead once there. Park your car in a spot and display your National Forest Adventure Pass (the multi agency America is Beautiful Pass works as well). If you were standing on route 79 and were facing the fire station, the actual trailhead would be to your right and way behind the fire station towards the boundary of the property. Use the GPS tracks linked above to find the exact "trail start".   

 

From the trail start you head out on the Oak Grove Trail that initially starts off fairly flat and quickly reaches the north facing slopes of the Palomar mountain. Here on the trail climbs fairly steeply up several switchbacks on to the top of a ridge line. At about 2 miles from the start it meets Oak Grove Road that must be taken (turn right) further uphill. Proceed on this dirt road till the next intersection (marked "Gate" on the track above) with High Point Road. Stay left and continue uphill. The fire lookout tower on the summit becomes visible soon. The road intersects yet again, this time with Palomar Divide Rd. Turn right an continue west until a fork in the road where you turn left again to reach the tower.

   

At the summit, you can climb two flights of stairs on the tower itself. A metal gate prevents you from climbing any further. The summit offers some interesting 360 degree views. You can spot the giant peaks of San Jacinto and San Gorgonio to the north, the Santa Rosa mountains to the east and the Agua Tibia mountain towards the west. The telescope domes of the Palomar Observatory are clearly visible as well. Don't forget to look for the survey marker some distance north of the tower.

     

Elevation Profile

 

 

Trail Log

 

May 2nd, 2009

    

Started from Trailhead - 8:45 am

Reached the Summit - 12:15 pm

Started back - 1:15 pm

Reached Trailhead - 4:00 pm 

  

Photos - Link 

Panorama - Link

       

Notes -

 

Sachin D and I started this hike a bit later than usual. The day was quite gloomy and chill, so we weren't trying to beat the sun or escape the heat really. Once at the Oak Grove Fire Station parking lot, it took us a bit to find the actual trail start. As soon as we got on the trail, we spotted a deer. This was the first time I had spotted a large mammal on one of my San Diego Co. hikes. 

 

It was pretty cold and windy throughout. By the time we got to the summit, I had worn my extra fleece layer. There was a work crew at the top working on the glass window panes on the fire tower. This allowed us a rare opportunity to actually climb all the way to the top of the tower for a much better view all around. The crew informed us that an organization of volunteers plan on manning the tower fairly frequently. I am not entirely sure what they would be looking out for. Fires I suppose! The crew also mentioned that hikers would be allowed up on the tower as well. If only they were planning on providing cookies and lemonade as well :)

  

We had our lunch by the tower. We spotted several spent shotgun cartridges strewn around. After a few pictures we headed back the same way we came up.

  

    

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