Variety awaits hikers at Palomar State Park
July 23, 2014Mt. Palomar with its magnificent scenery, open meadows and dense vegetation gives visitors the feeling of being in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Large pine, oak, fir and cedar trees cover all 1,862 acres of the park. Towering 5,000 ft above sea level the park offers camping, picnicking, hiking and trout fishing at Doane Pond. Cool summer evenings and daytime panoramic views from Boucher Hill Summit are breathtaking.
Wide varieties of hiking trails are available and range from one to four miles and length with elevation gains from 100 feet to 700 feet.
The Doane Valley Nature Trail begins at the Doane Pond parking lot and ends in the campground. With an elevation gain/loss of 100 ft. and a distance of 1 mile in length the trail is surrounded by some of the biggest trees on the mountain and crosses, by way of rock and wooden bridges, Doane Creek in many places.
The Silvercrest Trail to Scott's Cabin Trail, is a 1.5 mile loop with the trail beginning and ending at the Silvercrest Picnic Area. This trail is mostly a level trek with a gain – loss elevation of 150 feet. It affords hikers a view of the rugged land of San Diego County and takes you through areas of fern, oaks, wild lilac and 100 year old apple trees.
Beginning at the Doane Pond parking lot is the Weir Trail to French Valley. The trail is a three mile trek with a gain/loss elevation of 100 feet that follows Doane Creek that opens up to Doane Meadow and progresses on to the Weir Historic area. Hikers will come to a small dam called the Weir. The small stone building was built in the 1920's the Weir was used to measure water flow. The trail continues by backtracking to the Lower Doane trail junction and by turning left you will connect to the French Valley trail. The French Valley trail with its large Canyon Live Oaks and many grinding rocks that were once used by Native American inhabitants makes this particular hike not only beautiful but very interesting.
With an elevation gain – loss of 600 feet and a length of 3.5 miles the Boucher Trail to Adams Trail to Scott's Cabin Trail proves to be a bit more difficult for the novice hiker. It's a gradual climb but if you are accustomed to hiking and remembering that Mt. Palomar is at 5000 ft above sea level. You need to be a little cautious. The trail begins at the Boucher Trailhead. Walking towards the fire lookout tower you will eventually cross over the Nate Harrison Grade Road and the trail becomes the Adams Trail. The Adams Trail passes through forest that was burned in the Poomacha Fire of 2007 but still stands and is thriving. The trail continues to the Cedar Grove Camp Ground and on to the Cedar Trail and will have you arriving to a junction where you make a right to the Scott's Trail Cabin Trail and will end when you reach the trail post marked Ranger Station and return to the Silvercrest Picnic Area.
Last of all is the Thunder Springs Trail to Chimney Flats Trail to Scott's Cabin Trail this is a 4 mile hike with an elevation gain – loss of 700 feet. It begins at the far side of Doane Pond on the south side of the Upper Doane Valley. Lined by white alder trees this trail follows Doane Creek. The hike continues on by way of the Chimney Flats Trail and utilizes a switchback route along Chimney Creek near a small waterfall. Blooming Dogwood trees can be seen in early May and aromatic Western Azaleas abound with their beautiful blooms in June and July. Passing through a level meadow known as the Chimney Flats and then on to a dirt road that steadily climbs through the forest and eventually ends up at Scott's Cabin Trail. On the downward grade that meets the Cedar Trail and with a slight right turn you will return to Doane Pond.
Residents of Valley Center are truly fortunate to live so close to such a beautiful and historically beautiful area. Mt. Palomar is truly an oasis from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.