Distance: 3.2 miles, loop
Hiking Time: 2 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss: 800′
History: The Volcan Mountain was once inhabited by Native Americans for at least 6,000 years. The most recent tribe was the Lipay tribe, which translated means “the people”. The Lipay are closely related to the Yuman Indian people who are said to have inhabited the desert for the past 11,000 years.
There was always an abundance of food out here as the high mountains provide a variety of plant-life and animals. Some of the food sources included acorns, berries, roots, grass seeds, deer and rabbit.
Heartbreakingly, as early as 1775 the Native’s lives were changed dramatically due to the Spanish and Mexican colonizers arriving. The Iipay were forced to adapt to white man’s lifestyle, adopt Christianity and were eventually relocated from their homes. Shortly after the miners, loggers and ranchers came in due to the gold rush and took over the land.
The Volcan Mountain was off-limits to the public for most of the 20th century, so we are quite fortunate to get to explore it today!
Artwork: In 1989, famed artist and architect, James Hubbell was asked to design an entrance to the Volcan Mtn. trail that would celebrate the passageway to the high summit and cause people to pause and appreciate that they were entering a special place. In 1990 Mr. Hubbell built a beautiful gateway of native rock and cedar beams collected from and milled on Palomar Mountain. James’ son, Brennan, built the tall iron sculptures that we see in front of the gateway.
Personal Experience: We did this hike in December when the weather was perfect for an uphill climb. It was an almost completely secluded hike with views that only got more beautiful the higher we climbed. We got lucky and found several metates/mortars although I am going to keep their whereabouts top-secret to help preserve history. This is a great hike for families and is dog-friendly. There are lookout points with benches to appreciate the views and have small breaks during your hike.
We came across several metates during our hike! This metate was really cool because it had a thick layer of frozen ice in it!
Sage had to drink from every metate we found:As we were leaving I came across an interesting sun dial that I didn’t notice on our way up:When we were driving away three chickens crossed the road in front of us. Turns out they really DO just want to get to the other side! 😛And the evening ended with a glorious sunset:What a difference a few minutes can make!