GOSD Palomar Mountain Day Hike
Saturday October 8, 2022
You're invited to join us for the Great Outdoors San Diego (GOSD) Palomar Mountain Day Hike. It’s located in the Palomar Mountain State Park, a gem of a small State Park here in San Diego County. With an average elevation of 5000 feet, this three square mile park has some of the best mountain scenery in the county. White fir and incense cedar trees, normally found much farther north in the Sierras, are abundant here. The California Black and Valley Oaks should be in their full autumn colors. The weather may require a jacket in the morning but should warm up into the 70’s in the afternoon. Rain is highly unlikely in October. Dogs are not permitted on this hike.
Doane Pond Palomar Mountain
Expect a 1.5 to 2 hour drive time from San Diego. You will first need to reach Highway CA-76 E north of San Diego by driving north of San Diego on the I-15 and taking Exit 46 to CA-76 E. At Pala Mesa head east towards Palomar Mountain turning a slight left S. Grade Road/Palomar Mountain Road.
For a slightly shorter route, drive north on the I-15 and take exit 27 for Via Rancho Parkway. Follow signs to SD Wild Animal/Safari Park. Stay in the two right lanes and turn right onto E. Via Rancho Parkway. Continue onto Bear Valley Parkway for 5.8 miles. Use the right two lanes to turn right onto E. Valley Parkway. Continue onto Valley Center Road and drive 13.8 miles to a traffic circle. Take the first exit to CA-76 E.
From CA-76 E, take a slight left onto S Grade Rd/Palomar Mountain Rd. After 6.7 winding miles, turn left onto S Grade Road then another quick left onto State Park Road. Drive about 2.6 miles to the State Park entrance. There is an entrance fee of $10.00 per vehicle, so carpooling is highly encouraged. A California States Park Annual Pass will also get you in. If you're using Google Maps or MapQuest, the park's physical address is: 19952 State Park Rd. Palomar CA 92060.
Once inside the park, follow the signs to our meeting spot at the Doane Pond Parking lot. Please plan to arrive before 10:00 am, as we will leave for our hike at 10:00.
Autumn Leaves Palomar Mountain
Hike Description (total distance 7.8 miles)
We will be hiking two loop trails both starting at Doane Pond. In the morning we will hike the Lower Doane Valley and Lower French Valley Trails. This loop is rated moderate, 3.8 miles in distance, and should take about two hours. Highlights will include the Historic Weir Site on the Pauma Creek and a beautiful alpine meadow. The loop ends in the Doane Valley Campground, a short distance from the pond. We will have lunch at one of the picnic tables beside the pond.
In the afternoon we will hike the Thunder Spring and Chimney Flat loop. This is rated moderate, about four miles, and should take another two hours. On this loop we will pass a historic apple orchard and large incense cedar grove. We should be done with the hike and back to the parking lot by 4:00 pm.
As with all hikes, please be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, snacks, and your 10 essentials. For this hike, you’ll also want to bring lunch and warm clothes for the morning. Mobile phone reception is very limited in the Palomar Mountain State Park. Maps are available at the Park entrance.
This should be a great fall hike. Registration will soon be open on the GOSD website. For any questions about this hike, please contact the hike leader, Mark McCabe.