San Mateo Peak

Here are the remaining photos from my hike to the (only unofficially named) San Mateo Peak in the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness in April (see also: An Answer to Longing and San Mateo Canyon Chaparral).

The photos are sort of in a reverse order because I did not begin to make photos until I had reached the summit, and then continued a little bit further south, past an open meadow with some oak trees and over a little hump from where I had the open views in the first image, below. From there, I went back the way I came and concluded the day with a few aerial photos, made from South Main Divide Road, near where I had started my hike.

More about the hike itself follows below the photos:

The Hike

This is a fairly easy chaparral hike without any real difficulties except for a little bit of navigation at the beginning, and the elevation change. Starting from the Morgan Trailhead at South Main Divide Road the trail goes downhill a little bit first, into the tall growing Ceanothus, and reaches the upper (eastern) end of Morrell Canyon pretty soon. It’s important to turn left here, into a rather narrow and somewhat easy to overlook side trail that continues south. If you reach the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness sign with the check-in box, you’ve already walked too far!

Following the little trail south for a little while through the riparian woodland (which is beautiful with the Ceanothus growing in the shade of the oaks, see fifth photo, above) leads to the junction where the San Mateo Peak trail begins. This trail junction is properly marked with a small sign and after turning right here, the trail immediately begins to climb uphill and out of the riparian woodland.

This first climb out of the canyon is probably the steepest of the hike and leaving the shade of the oaks behind means that the trail is more exposed of course. While the chaparral grows pretty tall in places it doesn’t really provide a lot of shade and a hat is a good idea when it’s sunny. Because of the tall chaparral, I’d also recommend long sleeves and pants for hiking, to avoid getting scratched (but also because you’ll need less sunscreen that way;-).

It is actually possible to turn this into a ~9 mile loop hike by continuing about west from San Mateo Peak, downhill, and then go back on the Morgan Trail that runs in Morrell Canyon. Going back the same way without any extra excursions means a total distance of just about 5 miles, which is easy to do on a morning or an afternoon.

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5 thoughts on “San Mateo Peak”

  1. I did the 9 mile loop in late April. I especially enjoyed the first part from Morgan Trailhead along the woodland canyon. We ended with San Mateo Peak. I like your photos with warm light at the end of the day.

    • Yes, when I went in there (by mistake) it looked quite nice in there. The loop is surely something I’d like to do at some point (together with Sitton Peak when it’s not completely in the clouds! haha).


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