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Aztec Flats, Mt Laguna

Morris Ranch Rd. · Mount Laguna, ca

How to find us

From I-8, exit S1 Sunrise Hwy, heading North to Mt Laguna. Follow about 8 miles to intersection with Morris Ranch Rd / Wooded Hill Rd. Turn South (Right) into Aztec Flats and park in the SDSU Field Parking Lot.

Location image of event venue


DIFFICULTY: Easy to Moderate 1-3 miles, min. 2 locations w/ driving
PLANT KNOWLEDGE: Any; Experts welcome!

This fall, we're heading up to Mt. Laguna to check out the fall color in the deciduous oaks and other trees and look for late blooming rare species with an emphasis on finding the Laguna Mountain Aster (Dieteria asteriodes var lagunensis), Cliff goldenbush (Ericameria cuneata ssp macrochepala), and the disjunct population of Indian Valley bush mallow (Malacothamnus arboriginum).

First, we'll walk around the SDSU Field Station area at Aztec Flats looking for the Mt Laguna Aster and other mountain meadow and pine forest species. From there, we'll drive up to the main hike from the Trailhead at Penny Pines parking area (5 1/2 miles North) on the S1. Once collected, we're going up to the top of Garnet Peak for a moderately difficult 4 1/2 mile roundtrip hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. Extreme weather conditions such as heat, cold, or strong winds may alter this plan. This portion of the PCT is famed for its flora and views of Eastern San Diego County and the Salton Sea to the east. We'll find a good spot for lunch and then head back down to the cars, perhaps ending before 2 PM.

Be prepared for any weather on the day of the Meetup - winds and clouds can come in quickly in late October in the mountains. There is equally a chance that the day might present heat and fire danger, a beautiful clear but windy day, or cold blustery conditions with fog or light rain. Adverse conditions may cancel this hike, so please check back here in the days before to confirm that we're on. Bring all your basic provisions, including trail snacks and a lunch with plenty of water. Good shoes, good knees, and good balance will be needed for the Garnet Peak hike. Bring your floral keys and cameras, as we'll be doing some technical botanizing and GPS spot data along the way.

This trip is a great opportunity to get acquainted with a very small, easy section of the PCT without having the take off five months to hike the whole thing. Mt Laguna did receive some summer rain this year, so we hope to find more in bloom here than in other areas.

CARPOOL: Available from Fashion Valley Transit Station at the Fashion Valley Mall's west side nearest Fashion Valley Rd, from 7:35AM to 7:50AM. Please PM me if you are coming in on the bus or trolley or if you want to set up another carpool location along the I-8 (there is a good Park N Ride at Los Coches Rd) and I'll update this post. Parking at either location is free, though only Fashion Valley provides any roving security. Park at your own risk. I expect to return to the carpool lot around 2:30 to 3 PM.