After enjoying the astonishing views of the Carrizo Badlands from the “Domelands” area in the Coyote Mountains Wilderness in January, I returned to the area to hike Mine Peak, which lies a little further north in the Coyote Mountains.
The Domelands are higher up and provide the superior views of the badlands as I found out when I reached the peak – but on the other hand, Mine Peak has open views to both the Carrizo Badlands and the Superstition Mountains in the east, and to the Jacumba Mountains in the west.
This was particularly nice during my hike since it was raining west of the mountains in San Diego, and some of the stormclouds crept over the mountains. These clouds and the rain rain created a wonderful play of light and shadow with the desert sun. It also meant that it was extremely windy. The strong gusts and blowing dust easily convinced me that I should spend the second part of the day without any more hiking – getting sandblasted at Mine Peak was good enough, so after returning to my car, I drove north on Highway S2 and just stopped here and there to make more photos.
On the way back west via Banner Grade Road I hit the snow, and some extremely careful pickup truck drivers with 4WD actually made way and let me pass them with my lightweight 2WD SUV – yep, this German guy still hasn’t lost his snow driving mojo it seems! ;-)
The hike starts at or near the old Quartz Mine site (the dirt road began to look somewhat sketchy for 2WD, so I walked the last half mile or so). The mine itself is not visible from Highway S2 since it’s hidden behind a lesser ridge. It’s easy enough to find though: at this turnoff (Google Map, dot marked “Sweeny Pass Road”) make a sharp right onto the dirt road and follow it. Make a left at the junction with another dirt road, which leads directly to the mine (easily visible on the map).
Past the mine (the ugly ruins of an old concrete structure) an old trail leads a little further up, but it soon peters out and you’ll have to find your own way to Mine Peak. This isn’t very difficult – continue mostly north, and just remember the approximate route that you came from. :) It’s much, much easier with an app like GaiaGPS on your phone that has an offline topographical map. It takes all the guesswork out of looking at a map and trying to determine “where the heck am I?!” – I can wholeheartedly recommend it.
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