Saturday, April 11, 2015

Margarita Lookout

Hiked: 4/11/2015
Distance: Drive up
Summit Elevation: 3080'
Elevation Gain: 0'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.0
Round trip time: N/A
Recommended water: 0 oz.
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass
Difficulty: Easy

After Tenaja Falls, I wanted to drive up to Margarita Lookout while we were in the area. I had hiked to Margarita Peak in 2013, but didn't have time to go over to the old abandoned lookout. Margarita Road climbs all the way to the summit of the lookout and I didn't think it would take that long to get there. I underestimated the quality of the road and had to drive slower than expected. I recommend a high clearance vehicle with 4WD on this road. Technically, it wasn't a drive up because we had to park about a half mile below the peak when the road turned really nasty. I saw tire tracks on the last half mile, but I didn't want to risk my 4Runner on those ruts and boulders. We made it to the top quickly where we found a tattered American flag, the base of the lookout tower, and the foundation of some other structure. There was no benchmark or register that we found. We had great views into Camp Pendleton and hazy views in the Santa Anas to the north, other ranges to the east and south, and the ocean. There was a hole in the concrete where the tower once stood that had been used as a trash bin. We played a game trying to land rocks in it from various distances before heading back, a game Parker won fair and square. I recorded a GPX track from the intersection of Tenaja Road and Cleveland Forest Road to help future hikers find their way through the winding dirt roads. You can grab it at under the Margarita Peak entry.

Margarita Lookout from Margarita Road (8S01)

Hiking the last half mile

Tower remains below the summit

Parker at the summit

Base of the old lookout tower

Hole in the concrete that has been turned into a trash bin

Looking down into Camp Pendleton, Pacific Ocean in the distance

Another day in the dirt

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