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|
|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|
|Chimney Flats Trail|
|A burnt pine tree near Scott's Cabin|
|Slopes near Silvercrest Trail and a view to Pauma Valley|