Friday, January 23, 2015

Black Mountain #1 (San Diego)

Hiked: 1/23/2015
Distance: 4.9 miles on road and use trail
Summit Elevation: 4051'
Prominence: Unknown
Elevation Gain: 1190'
Elevation Gain (in Sears Towers): 0.95
Round trip time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Recommended water: 48 oz.
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass on Black Mountain Road
Difficulty: Easy

My plan was to make another attempt at Tanriverdi Falls in the Santa Anas, but Long Canyon Road was closed for construction. The forest service doesn't track the status of it on their web site and I was surprised to find it closed when I got there. I didn't have a backup plan, but tried to think something up on the way down. I pulled over and verified on my phone that Black Mountain road was open in San Diego county, then headed down I-5 with 90 minutes of my day already burned up.

Black Mountain #1 is #49 on the San Diego Sierra Club list. If you park on Pamo Road and start from the bottom of the dirt road, it is a 14 mile round trip. If you have a high clearance vehicle and all three gates are open, you can drive almost to the top, only having to navigate the roughly 1/4 mile use trail. I didn't have time to start from the bottom so I drove up to a turnout at 2872' and hiked the rest of the way. You start on Santa Ysabel, then at the second gate, Black Mountain road continues left. The road was in pretty good shape and required high clearance but not 4WD. Turns out all the gates were open and I could have driven all the way up, but I wanted to get a feel for the mountain. It would probably be a better mountain bike ride than hike.


Upper Santa Ysabel Road, the way to Black Mountain #1


First view of the Black Mountain summit


Start of the summit use trail

At the summit is a solar powered forest service radio tower that looks like it was built on the ruins of a fire lookout. From other trip reports, I was not expecting to find a benchmark or register, but I did find the triangulation benchmark on the other side of the tower. It was missing the face plate, but the triangle was still there. I didn't find a register. The views from 4000' were pretty good, with the outline of Woodson Mountain rising to the southwest. There were plenty of great lunch spots, but I wanted to get down in time to try to pick up another fast food peak or two on the way home. After a few photos, I was on my way, jogging most of the way down.


The radio tower at the high point


Looking back at the pine grove near the top


Sun reflecting off Sutherland Lake


Benchmark missing the face place, behind the tower


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