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Monserate Mountain

Join us for a great workout hike after work on Thursday night. To get the full effect we will be going on the longer loop. Taking a right at the halfway up point, to drop down again and wrap around the back side where a very steep road ascends and passes the water tank, and finally up "the stairs" and along the knife edge ridge line trail to the summit. Then down the short but steep way. The trail is pretty steep so it's not really suitable for those who are looking for something a little less strenuous, but if you’re up to the job then the hike is truly great. Please bring your headlights/flashlights although we should complete most of the hike before dark. Dogs must be leashed and in good shape for this hike but keep in mind the trail is very rocky in spots.

Rating              Mikey's GPS Track

Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous

Time Required: 2+ hours

Distance:  4.1 miles

Gain/Loss: 1600 ft/1600 ft  elevation change

Recommendations for this hike: 1+ liters of water, hiking shoes or boots, headlights.

This is an intermediate hike and is not suitable for beginners. We will be hiking at a fairly fast pace to get a good cardio effect. This hike is cross posted.











Getting There

To get to the starting point for the hike, exit Interstate 15 at Highway 76 (Pala Road). Turn west and proceed a short distance to Old Highway 395 (the west-side frontage road of I-15). Turn right and continue 2.6 miles north on Old Highway 395 to Stewart Canyon Road, on the right. Drive under I-15 on this road and on the other side you will meet Pankey Road, which offers abundant space for parking. The Monserate Mountain trailhead, marked with a small signpost, is immediately to the right (south) of the intersection.

Trail Description courtesy jerry schad

The dark west flank of Monserate Mountain rises abruptly alongside Interstate 15, its chaparral-coated surface relatively uncut by roads and graded residential lots. The Fallbrook Land Conservancy has established its largest preserve here, the 340-acre Monserate Mountain Preserve. The hike to the 1567-foot high point on the mountain could be considered a chore, but optimistically (it's easy to be optimistic if you hike on a clear, cool day) the experience combines some heart-pounding exercise with a spacious and panoramic view at the top.

From the trailhead, the rough and sometimes severely eroded trail wastes little distance -- except for a couple of zigzags -- in ascending the mountain's steep west slope. The white noise of traffic on the freeway fades as you climb, perhaps becoming no louder than your own heavy breathing. At 0.8 mile and 650 feet higher you reach a disused, one-lane paved road. Turn left and swing north on the deteriorating remnants of this road. After another 0.1 mile, pavement ends; just veer right on the dirt trail ahead. Lettered signposts clearly lead the way north and then east. Ignore two side paths on the left, and climb around a switchback to a saddle just below the Monserate Mountain summit. There, a ridge-running trail contours south toward a large water tank on the ridge, while the trail to the summit heads upward and east for about 100 yards to the high point, which is about 1200 feet above where you started your hike.

On the summit itself, an eastern view is revealed for the first time: Agua Tibia Mountain (an arm of the Palomar Mountains) rises boldly from lesser hills and valleys -- the latter often draped in a vaporous haze. To the north spreads the typical Fallbrook mosaic of scattered houses and avocado-draped hillsides. In the west a couple of miles away, the reflective surface of a reservoir atop a ridge mirrors the color of the sky behind it (an aqueduct serving San Diego County passes nearby, so the reality of a ridgetop lake is not so peculiar). Visible beyond the lake on clearer days is the arc of the ocean, blue here or silvery there, depending on the sun angle.

Disclaimer: The Organizer and Assistant Organizers in this group are not professional guides. The function of the organizer is only to organize the trip. Each person who signs up for a trip/meetup/or outing is responsible for his or her own safety. By signing up for a hike, or any other event organized by this group, you are acknowledging that you are aware of the risks, dangers and hazards associated with any outdoor activity and freely accept and fully assume all such risks, dangers and hazards, and further agree to release and discharge the Organizer and Assistant Organizers of the Adventurers Unlimited Meetup Group from and against any and all liability arising from your participation in the group activities.


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  • Mikey

    excellent cardio hike as always. great to meet some friendly new hikers and take them on their first trip up Monserate. good job!

    May 24, 2013

  • Mikey

    looks like its gonna be a windy one tonight, bring a layer just in case.

    May 23, 2013

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