Oak Grove Trail to Palomar High Point Lookout (6140′): #1 of 2020

Peak Summited2020 High Point
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadOak Grove Trail
Road ConditionsRoad suitable for all vehicles
Bug StatusNo bugs
Snow ConditionsIntermittent snow - not hard to cross
Trail ConditionsMinor obstacles posing few problems

Beautiful, clear, and successful day. I parked at the Oak Grove Fire Station (south side of the building) on Highway 79. Adventure Pass is required. Getting to the actual trailhead is a little funky. It requires walking by a few properties behind the fire station/toward the mountain until you reach a blank brown sign on the right…this is the trailhead! I started hiking at 8:30 am.

The first section of the hike, the Oak Grove Trail, is fairly steep. This was the toughest part of the hike for me today. It meanders up through manzanita before intersecting with a truck trail along the ridge. Turn right here to head up to higher elevations. There is a nice Oak Grove Trail sign on the left so you won't miss the turnoff on your way back down. There were a few downed trees and overgrown areas on the trail, but nothing that can't be figured out.

This next section of the hike, the truck trail-summit, was easy to follow. The snow made the going a bit slower than normal, but the views started to open up. At this point, there are nice views to the north of Mt. Baldy, San Gorgonio, and Mt. San Jacinto. Eventually, you'll get your first glimpse of the fire tower atop Palomar Mountain. This is your North Star…just keep cruising on the truck trail until you end up at the summit. This whole time, I had been hiking in a short-sleeve shirt, but the wind and cold on the summit changed that. I summited at 11:30 am, and goofed around taking pictures (the fire tower and old fire tower foundation are awesome!) and eating lunch until 12pm. I had the summit to myself.

Heading back was fine, aside from slogging through some wet sections of snow/mud, and I finished the hike at 2 pm. 13.5 miles with about 3500′ elevation gain. Good times!

During the winter months, I strongly recommend using trekking poles, as the snow on the truck trail-summit section can make things slippery. I didn't take crampons today. Take 3L of water, and be ready for cold weather on the summit.

I only came across two other hikers on the entire hike. With the snow, solitude, and awesome summit, I look forward to going back before winter ends. Also, great training for the big boy mountains to the north.

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