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2015 Trip Report - Palomar Divide Trail

Palomar Divide Trail

November 21, 2015

by Bob Jacoby

Our group hit the jackpot as we met on Saturday morning November 21. The weather was already in the 70’s and the skies were crystal clear. We couldn’t have asked for a better day to drive the Palomar Divide Trail and enjoy the tremendous views it had to offer on a clear day. Our outstanding group consisted of myself, new member Chris Parker, Alan Wicker and friend Bob, Mal Roode, Ted Kalil, Terry and Ellen Ogden, and Bob and Sue Jaussaud.

Our journey began at the entrance to an RV Park off of State Highway 79 just east of beautiful downtown Aguanda. Soon after entering the RV Park the road turned to dirt and we started to climb. Within about a half mile or so we found ourselves on a scenic shelf road that offered endless views of the valleys below us. This part of northern San Diego County is absolutely amazing and offers remarkable scenery.

Midway along the trail we made a right turn and followed a very steep spur road through a grove of large oak trees up to the High Point Lookout where a fire tower stood. Interestingly, the tower was apparently occupied by Cleveland National Forest personnel. The base of the tower was at an elevation of 6,140 feet and the view was 360 degrees in scope. Yes, we could see in every direction as we consumed lunch. To the west was anoutstanding view of the Palomar Observatory. It is no longer true, but at one time this was the home of the largest telescope in the world. Unfortunately, the dirt road from the tower area that accesses the Observatory was gated. It would have been very interesting to take that road.

After lunch it was time to proceed downhill as we completed the Divide Trail Loop back to Highway 79. On our way down we passed evidence of both the Ware Mine and Maple Load mine. The Ware mine looked like a particularly large operation, but was inaccessible.

When we reached Highway 79 the trip was far from over as we caravanned about 25 miles to visit the Vail Ranch site in Temecula. The site consists of historic ranch buildings that sit right on the old immigrant trail routes, including the Butterfield Stage Trail. Our docent, Darrell, was very gracious as he led us on a thorough tour of the ranch site as well as the adjacent museum. We strongly recommend a trip to this site if you are in the Temecula area.

The only downside of the day was the fact that yours truly got sicker and sicker as the day went by. I usually don’t get colds and flu, but this came on very quickly to the point where I could not finish the museum tour. Among other symptoms my voice was completely gone. (There are some who might say that was a good thing!)

Overall, everyone had an interesting day in an area, most of us don’t normally explore.