Laguna Mountains Loop Hike

Our friend Hans introduced Shuwen and me to a nice loop hike in San Diego’s Laguna Mountains. It combines forest, meadows, mountain chaparral and desert views. We hiked in the late afternoon and did the loop counterclockwise so that we’d be out in the open of the Laguna Crest for those desert views, when the sun would be lower.

The hike starts at Horse Heaven campground and includes the part of Laguna Meadows near Little Laguna, follows the Big Laguna Trail to Agua Dulce Ravine. There, the Big Laguna Trail gently climbs towards the Laguna Crest and the Pacific Crest Trail (one has to cross Sunrise Highway to get to the PCT), and follows the Pacific Crest Trail north, from where a small connector trail leads back to the starting point. For personal historic reasons, this is called the “Rainer Hike” as we learned from Hans. :-)

After the very winter of 2010/2011, the wildflowers that blanketed the meadows in May were mostly gone, but Little Laguna still had water and an astonishing amount of lupins was growing in the open shade of the Jeffrey Pine forest. Out in the open at the Laguna Crest, the views into the desert were magnificent, and the late afternoon light together with some haze in the valleys created some painterly and serene impressions of the vast landscape stretching out below.

Note: this archive post was added to the site in January 2018 and dated back to when the photos were actually made. It was the best wildflower bloom I’ve ever seen in the Laguna Mountains and back then, I didn’t realize how special it was.

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