Had heard about Laguna Mountain Recreation Area earlier but didn't know what to expect. Less than hour's drive east from San Diego it was pretty close after all. After a short study of map revealed place to be on a mile high with full of trails. What's more, the Pacific Crest Trail went near by, too.
Went there for hiking for the very first time. Parking on Scenic Highway required a parking permit. Had earlier bought an annual permission, called Adventure Pass. The weather was a bit chilly but sunny. Was pretty sure the sun would warm air during afternoon.
Started hiking from Meadows Information Center. There was a trailhead which headed towards Laguna Meadow. All trails were single track trails. Left most trail was for hikers only, Sunset Trail. Other trails were used by mountain bikers as well.
The whole region was high in altitude, on about 1600m above sea level. You felt that while keeping up a good pace. The trail went up and down, pretty smooth like hills. Noticed almost immediately that fall foliage had arrived there. It was mostly a forest there. Old pine trees were companied by even older oak trees. Oak trees had bright yellow leaves. Spectacular view.
Soon the Sunset Trail came near a small Water-On-The-Woods pond. From there one saw a meadow for the first time. Continued the Sunset Trail more north to the end of the meadow on the north. Now the trail went near the edge on the west side, giving panorama views towards Pacific. Hazy weather didn't give clear view to the sea. Now there was a little bit more up and downs but in general the trail was conservative.
Landing from the forest to the northern part of the meadow changed terrain to quite flat. There were horse riding groups, mountain bikers, hikers and few trail runners.
Decided to turn back via east side of the meadow. The name of the single track trail changed to Big Laguna Trail. Those massive old oak trees looked awesome.
The trail continued near but off the meadow. Big Laguna Lake had some water on it. Ducks were playing there. Continued then towards Little Laguna Lake, still staying on Big Laguna Trail. That tiny lake was empty of water.
Couple of energy bars filled a short lunch time. Sweared to bring proper food next time.
Crossing the meadow brought back to a mixed pine and oak forest. After about 20km hiking returned back to the car. Mount Laguna had impressed me. Promised to return ASAP, but with a mountain bike.
Left the car to the same place and headed to the trailhead. This time the one that was allowed for bikers. Hard sand single track trails, no major rocks or roots on trails. Just perfect for riding. Followed Big Laguna Trail on the west side of the meadow. After meadow continued more north to Penny Pines trailhead.
From Penny Pines took a sneak test ride on one of the most popular mountain bike trails on earth, Noble Canyon Trail. Lots of small rocks on trail, quite technical. Wasn't too comfortable and soon took another trail back to the meadow. One day will finish the famous trail for sure, let it rest for a while.
Back on Big Laguna Trail and then circled via several camping sites. Might be a good idea to come camping there, for hiking and maybe for snowshoeing at winter time?
Now a more proper lunch under a massive pine tree; some fresh rye bread from Finland and a pot of French Roast coffee.
After break headed towards pine forest on east side of the meadow. The trail started to ascend. Heavy breathing a while. Circled on few different trails coming down and soon back. Fantastic place for riding, especially Chico Gatos Ravine trail.
After few hours and some 50km of riding headed back to the car. Must return was in mind.
(all photos here)
|Laguna Mountain Recreation Area|
|Fresh acorns ...|
|... Escaped ...|
|Red, Yellow, Geeen|
|A scenery towards west|
|Action on meadow|
|Arriving at the Laguna Meadow|
|In a shadow|
|Big Laguna Trail|
|Crossing Laguna Meadow|
|Single track trail on meadow|
|Mountain bike trail on pine forest|
|A ride in action|
|Old oak trees|