"It is the experiences, the memories, the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found" - Christopher McCandles
Doane Valley Campground
Palomar Mountain, CA 92060
Distance from downtown San Diego: About 87 miles. Allow 2 hours driving time. From I-5N, then SR-76E, take slight left on S Grade Rd/CR-S6 to Palomar Mountain. Turn left at State Park Rd/CR-S7 (just before the store and restaurant) to Palomar Mountain State Park. Follow the signs to Doane Pond and park in the lot. Parking is $8. There are no gas stations on Palomar Mountain. Restrooms available. Note: I-15N is 65 miles, per navigation aids.
Hiking length: 3 miles round trip.
Difficulty: Easy/moderate with elevation gain/loss of 200 feet. The hike toward lower French Creek has elevation loss with some ups and downs. The trail from the lower Doane Valley parking lot crosses the creek via stepping stones and then has a short steep and narrow section down stone steps.
Check out this amazing list of all the plants that grow on this hike! http://tchester.org/sd/plants/guides/palomar/weir_loop.html
Weir Trail to French Valley Trail is a three-mile trail that starts at the Doane Pond parking lot at the same trailhead as doane valley nature trail. The trail is fairly level, with only a 100 ft elevation gain/loss, and follows along doane creek underneath forest growth before it opens out into views of the lower doane meadow and continues to the Weir historic site.
Personal Experience: Until recently I had done very little exploring of Palomar Mountain, and even the exploring I had done was over a decade ago! With newfound eyes, I got to appreciate this area all over again and fall deeper in love. I was amazed with how similar Palomar Mtn. is to my favorite area, Big Sur! You can learn more about Big Sur under our Hidden CA section. The only main difference between the two is the lack of an ocean in Palomar.
This specific trail takes you to the old, historical weir. Visiting the weir is only a minor part of the whole hike. I believe you will enjoy every step you take out here. You are surrounded by a lush forest with a multitude of plant species, fresh air, wild animals and oh so many interesting things to see! The weir is a small, stone hut and really not much to explore, although very interesting-looking and makes for some good photos. Depending on how much rainfall we've had will determine how large the river will be which is right below it.
The weir was built to measure the water flow. They were hoping a hydroelectric dam could be built there to provide electricity for the mountain but I believe there was never enough water to fulfill their dream. The meadow would've been partially filled if a dam was built.
These photos were taken during 4 different trips to the weir. You will get an idea of what the area looks like throughout the year!
The inside of this tree forms the shape of a star where the branches grow out of:
There have been mountain lion sightings on this trail so please do not hike alone! We found our own mountain lion evidence during one of our trips. Scary!
We found it!
This fungus is black Witch's Butter:
I was told these are huckleberries. How cool! These were fruiting in July. We also found wild raspberries which were the most delicious thing ever. I don't know why I don't have a photo of them!
Stinging nettle! I grabbed it to get a closer look and next thing I know I'm feeling excruciating pain. It has tiny spines that felt like they were electrocuting me! Then that electric feeling stayed in my finger the rest of the day! This plant is no joke.
Here's a video from our most recent trip in January 2017:
Anza Borrego Desert
LHOOQ/EXREALISM Vintage Bookstore