Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Getting Up Close Palomar Mountain

Palomar mountain is one of the quiet, rustic, scenic, nature escapes within the San Diego County. 

View from Palomar Mountain State Park
With an elevation of about 5500 ft, and having roads with stomach-churning turns along high cliffs, it was this year's final leg or Stage 8 of the Amgen Tour of California. 

Lance Armstrong in an interview before the start of the final Leg of Amgen Tour
It is located off Highway 76 East from I-5 or I-15.
The windy road that climbs up this mountain is very popular to bikers and racing motorcyclists. 

Road Winding @ Palomar Mountain
Palomar Mountain is also home to the world famous Palomar Observatory, which is a world class center of astronomical research owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology. " The observatory is home to 5 telescopes, and is still home to the world famous 200 inch Hale telescope, though may no longer be the biggest in today's date, but it remained at the leading edge of research in astronomy and astrophysics and stands as a monument to George Ellery Hale and his efforts to produce finest instruments in the world in finding answers to fundamental questions concerning the origin and nature of universe." - source: http:www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/butowsky5/astroe.htm
Though most of Palomar Mountain is private land, but there are enough maintained trails by the Palomar Mountain State Park and Cleveland National Forest, that would make campers, backpackers and hikers busy. 
The uplands of Palomar Mountain is covered with thick forests of pine, oak, cedar, and fir which provides foliage during autumn. 

Ferns and Oaks, Palomar Mountain State Park

Palomar Mountain State Park has several campgrounds and hiking trails. A $6.00 day use fee is required to enter the park, however, there are also free parking spaces at the shoulder less than a mile before the entrance of the park. Entering the park by foot is free. To the right of this free parking space is a fire road that will lead to two trailheads, the Scott's Cabin and Chimney Flats.

Brown Ferns @ Chimney Flats
You can take any of these two trails as they are both part of the loop trail system that goes down to Doane Valley/Pond, which is home to trout fishing in the park. 

Doane Pond, Palomar Mountain State Park
If you take Chimney Flats first, then, you get to Thunder Springs trail next, to Doanne Valley Nature Trail where you pass the Doane Pond, to Cedar Doane Trail, to Scott's Cabin Trail to Silvercrest trail and back to the parking lot. Total distance of this hike is approximately 6 miles with 1050 ft elevation loss/gain. The first half of the loop is easy since it is going down, but what comes down also goes up, so the last half of the loop is on an uphill walk, but considering the distance spread out in that elevation gain, it still is not a tough hike. 

Warning Sign on Mountain Lion
The trailheads show warning signs about mountain lion, but considering how reclusive are the mountain lions, it is least likely you will encounter one in your hike. But it is always great idea to pay attention to the precaution notice and follow the instructions like: 1. making noise as you hike 2. do not bend down when you see a mountain lions as they are not prone to attack someone taller than they are. 
It is easier to make noise when you have company in your hike since you can talk. But if you find yourself alone, you can create noise from the ruffling of the leaves against the soles of your hiking shoes and the raking of the dried leavesby the trekking pole. If you do not have a hiking pole or trekking pole, it is always good to have a stick, as you can add that to your height (raise your hand with the stick) if in case you encounter one. 

Chimney Flats- Scott Cabin's Loop Trail, Palomar Mountain State Park
Though I have not seen any mountain lions in my hikes (thankfully), however, a lot of instances, I see their tracks. But I am not that very good either in identifying animal track, they can be that of a deer as well :)
Palomar Mountain is an all year mountain retreat within San Diego. 

Winter @ Palomar Mountain
It is one of San Diego's responses to those who complain about the lack of seasons in Southern California. For me, I do not have to complain, I love the ocean free of snow, where I can enjoy the sea year round, yet not too far from it is the winter wonderland up the slopes of Palomar Mountain. Sadly though, some residents in the city do not even know this country escape exist nearby their place.
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  1. Palomar Mountain is certainly gorgeous! I'm sure it will be a great adventure for the whole family to get there. I love the photos Betchai, thanks for sharing!

    Hope you have a great day!!

    Debbie :)

  2. Never been there but it looks so inviting. I love the detail and colors on the fern and oak shots. Just beautiful.

  3. A beautiful place that more people should know about. I've heard about the observatory before. It's the kind of place I really like. I like the precautions about the mountain lions. If you're in a safer place, you can do the opposite to make animals like deer come closer.

  4. I didn't know you can enjoy snow in San Diego...What a perfect place to live since you can have snow, sun, and beach all in one place..

    I'm with you, I preferred to be by the beach, and listen to the waves!

  5. This place sounds very interesting with the Mother Nature and high technology come together.

    You must be a great fan of Lance Armstrong.

  6. Beautiful hiking trails! How great to live in San Diego and be close to both beach and snow in the mountains.

  7. Hi Betchai! Visiting here again to enjoy the magnificent views here!

    Enjoy Wednesday!

    Debbie :)

  8. Ummm, where were you when you took a shot of that racing cars? You must be in very high place looking at it.

    I love the reflection of the pond,another beautiful place from you. Good thing no mountain lion encounter.

  9. Wow! I love that lake with the beautiful ferns! Who knew it was so amazing!

  10. Wow bro. Love the pictures of PALOMA MOUNTAIN. Wow.. you really had fun. I wished to be there someday.. someday.. :)

  11. I love the pictures of fall, and winter it always reminds of what will come back in Spring.

  12. That is absolutely gorgeous. How nice to be able to experience the seasons when you choose, but be able to avoid all the disadvantages of snow.

  13. I'm a fan of Lance Armstrong! Great photos as always Betchai, especially the photo of Doane Pond. The colors are beautiful.

  14. Beautiful Images, you are so lucky to be living there, I would love to visit the observatory one day.

    ps big fan of Lance.

  15. Beautiful photos, as always. Did you actually photograph Lance Armstrong??

  16. thanks a lot everyone.

    @ Tellie- yes, I took that picture of Lance, had to join the crowd in having that chance of getting near him :)

    @ Rainfield - Yes, I am a fan of Lance

    @ Bob- I am glad, I am a fan of Lance, and I admire his courage to fight through and triumph over cancer.

  17. One thing I know,that is I know nothing.


  18. I am planning on embarking on an adventure-not just a vacation. I hope to do something daring. I've already traveled abroad alone, been to boot camp, and frequently go camping with family, so I need something that really tops it all.

  19. I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style of blogging

  20. Wow, Lance. Somehow I feel like I know him. Ha, just from working on some of his campaigns so much.