16 April 2013

A Day Hike On Palomar Mountain State Park

April 2013

Southern California seems to offer many places for hiking. For this time picked up a place which name had fascinated me a long time, namely Palomar Mountain. Not really the mountain but the Palomar Observatory. Then noticed there's a State Park near decided to have a look.

The State Park was part of the larger Cleveland National Forest, founded by the President Roosevelt some 100 years ago.

After an hour's drive, through Pauma Indian Reservation and eventually some twisted hill climbing with a car, arrived at the parking lot of the Palomar Mountain State Park. Clouds were hanging on the valley like a carpet. Above the clouds the sun shined and warmed nicely.

The area lied on about 1700m above the sea. Air was fresh but still quite warm at this time of the year, though mid winter can be snowy and frosty there.

There were several hiking trails, all fairly short ones where to choose.  Planned to hike about 15km route.  Started the day near Park Headquarters and headed first via Boucher Trail to Boucher Lookup Point.  Some easy climbing through oak and nut tree forest. Really nice.

A panorama view from the Boucher Point showed you a flat view of clouds covering valleys.  Continued via Boucher and Adams Trails towards Cedar Grove Campground. The oak trees changed to pine trees. Actually to burnt pine trees.  It seemed there's been a large fire, or several of them, some time ago.

Birds sang and kept hiding from a camera. Squirrels and a few hare didn't pay much attention to people.  Saw few small deers at Cedar Grove.  This was a good park for hikers as there were some fresh water points to fill your bottles.

From Cedar Grove continued towards Doane Pond via Cedar Trail.  The pond was quite small but had attracted some people for fishing. While circling near the pond, started to hear very strong and loud sound near by. At first couldn't spot where the sound came from and what was a source of it. It seemed to move around.  Soon noticed that the sound came from the pond. Very strange!  Then noticed a sign which prohibited to feed local frogs. Holy Batman, they were frogs which made such a noisy sound!  Later learnt that they were called Bullfrogs, known from their loud sound like a bull.  Still couldn't spot them as they changed place immediately you came hear them. Clever little noisy b.....s.

From Doane Pond continued hiking towards south east via Thunder Spring Trail. The trail followed Doane Creek, which had only a small stream of water. After departing the Creek the trail started to rise higher and changed its name to Chimney Flats Trail. There was a turning point and soon the direction was towards the starting point. After some time the Trail came more flat land.  Here and there were really massive pine trees, some 50m high.

Last trail was the Silvercrest Trail, which ended near the parking lot.  Followed some time a pair of eagles which circled near above playing with each other. It was so awesome view that forgot to take photos of them.

After a nice day hike headed to see the Observatory. Unfortunately it had just closed it doors for the day. Well, must come there again.

Binoculars and a camera were good partners. Birds were hidden from the camera but couldn't hide from binoculars. They actually revealed when observing them how little I knew and recognized about different species. A lot to learn.

A brochure of the State Park can be found from here.

By the way, Tour of California, the greatest cycling race in America, comes to Palomar Mountain next month (2013). Great!

Some 8 miles route (show a larger map):



A Mountain Chickadee

A leafless forest near Boucher Trail

Snowy mountain tops in far distance

Pale looking trees

A large carpet of clouds covering the valley

Damaged and survived trees

Oh Deer!

Fire kept in control

A Dark-Eyed Junco

Dead trees on Doane Creek

Imagine a sound like bulls rising from the pond, sci-fi stuff!

A young tree


Green plants

Chimney Flats Trail

A burnt pine tree near Scott's Cabin

Slopes near Silvercrest Trail and a view to Pauma Valley

Ghost trees

Palomar Observatory


Copyright Garmin

06 April 2013

A Day On The Beach, La Jolla

April 2013

Spent a lazy Saturday. Walked some 10 miles on the beach at La Jolla, San Diego.  Wind and sunshine was a daily receipt.

Admired surfers and tried to capture their best twists on waves. Surely a discipline on my wanna-try list.

01 April 2013

A Walk On Blue Sky Ecological Reserve, Poway CA

Mar 2013

After morning bicycle ride on northern hills of San Diego, took a drive by car to the city of Poway, to explore one of its Nature Reserve areas there.  The place was called Blue Sky Ecological Reserve.

The area was quite hilly. Back in Finland we would have called these size of hills as mountains or massive fells.

Sunny afternoon, burning sun, as almost every day. Some water and a camera with a kit zoom lens.

Didn't know what to expect. Had passed the place earlier a week ago by bicycle and saw people heading towards a small valley with lots of old oak trees.  The oak trees were the first ones to see there. Some massive trees with bent branches gave good shelter for the burning sun.

Strict rules allowed you to walk only on marked trails. You heard all sort of sounds coming from the bushes near the trail. Obviously some birds and ground squirrels had their daily routines there.

Soon the valley and trees ended and the trail split into two, one towards Lake Ramona, another towards Lake Poway. Decided to walk to the Lake Ramona.

The trail started to be like an Alpine road having left and right twists, going higher and higher. An hour later arrived at the dam of the lake (having a camera with you makes hill walking even slower). There was a good and nice scene to the lake, as well as towards the Lake Poway.

Saw few hawks gliding above surrounding hills. A few ravens flew here and there, too. The trail was full of tiny lizards. Small birds sang loudly staying hide from my camera.

Walked back via the same trail. A few snapshots slowed down the walk. Strange plants and flowers to me. Nice anyway.

After arriving at the shadow of oak trees, saw a couple of big bird nests. A woodpecker did its work. A funny looking bird. A hawk posed a few seconds on a tree near by, wish I'd have a good lens in my camera some day.

All in all a place worth visiting, seeing rare and vulnerable nature, plants and its animals so near, but not disturbing them too much.

A 10km walk, climbing 5km up to Lake Ramona and returning the same route back (show a larger map):

Some photos

5 mph, a limiting factor

Nice and cool in shadows

A single beauty

A becoming palm tree or an agave plant

A twisty road

A daily lizard

Yellow. Are. They.

A tough place to cope with

Towards Lake Ramona

Smooth edges

Lake Ramona

Lake Poway in distance


An ugly looking creature

Swaying grass


Back in the shadows

Can't be more black

A Woodpecker having a short break