Hiking the Santa Rosa Plateau: Vernal Pool Trail, Punta Mesa Trail, Monument Road, Trans Preserve Trail

Participant: Tom Chester
Date: 20 November 1998 (Written up 21 December 1998)
Numbers: 7.3 miles, ~750' elevation gain.

The pools looked "mowed" as I drove to the Vernal Pool Trailhead, but when I got to the main pool it was just the different plants growing in the pool area that caused that appearance. Last year at this time, after the previous year's burn, there was a nearly virgin landscape available for growth. This year, the annuals were still 3' high or so. I wonder if wildflowers such as the low shooting stars can be as good this coming spring, having to battle through the remnants of last year's tall annuals.

The Punta Mesa Trail was great, hiking along the places I can see from my house in Fallbrook. The highlight for me was Monument Hill, named for the USGS marker on it. I wasn't sure whether I was going to find a USGS marker, a graveyard, or the statues in center field of Yankee Stadium!

The view was stupendous - in addition to the usual views of San Gorgonio, San Jacinto, and Palomar Mountain, I could see Mt. Baden-Powell and Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains, Cuyamaca Peak, Mt. Woodson, Sleeping Indian in Fallbrook, and the ocean.

Halfway between Poppy Hill and Monument Hill Road, you can see the 200" dome on Palomar Mountain in the dip between Aqua Tibia and the middle part of Palomar.

Explanation of column headings

Detailed Hiking Log
00.0010:00 1950Vernal Pool Trailhead.
10.5510:13 1800Main Pool.
21.5510:37 1650Jct. Ranch road, went right.
31.6510:4010:571600Adobes. Ate lunch and accumulated 0.10 mile walking around.
42.1011:09 1600Jct. Adobe Loop and Punta Mesa Trail. Sign: "1.9 mi to Monument Hill Road". Continued ahead on Punta Mesa Trail.
53.0511:32 1500Jct. Trail to right. Continued ahead on what is now a "mowed highway", instead of a trail.
63.7511:47 1600Permanent pool on east.
73.8011:49 1600Jct. Monument Rd. Went left on it. Sign: "Monument Hill 0.7; Waterline Road 0.7; Adobes 2.4 mi".
83.9511:55 1700Jct. Vista Grande Trail. Sign: "Ops center 1.7; Monument Hill 0.5".
94.3012:11 1800Jct. Trail to Monument Hill. Went left on it.
104.4012:1312:2518501939' Monument Hill. See text for great views from here.
114.5512:28 1800Back at Monument Road. Went left.
125.0512:42 1800Jct. Lomas Trail north. Continued on Lomas Trail/Monument Road. Sign: "Adobes 0.9 mi; Ranch Road 0.5 mi; Visitor Center 2.2 mi".
135.2012:47 1800Jct. Lomas Trail South. Sign: "0.7 mi Adobe". Continued on Monument Road.
145.4012:52 1800Jct. Ranch Road. Continued west on short connector trail. Sign: "Lomas Trail 0.3 mi; Monument Hill 1.2 mi; Trans-Preserve Trail 0.3 mi".
155.5012:55 1750Jct. Trans-Preserve Trail. Went left.
165.751:01 1750Fork in trail, left fork leads back to Ranch Road, right fork continues Trans-Preserve Trail. Took right fork.
175.801:03 1700Jct. road to Hidden Valley. Sign: "Adobes 0.6 mi; Vernal Pool 1 mi; Los Santos Trail to Vernal Pool Trail 2.4 mi; Hidden Valley Trailhead 1.5 mi". Discovered I lost my kerchief, so turned around and found it 0.25 mile back.
186.351:18 1600Back at #17 after retrieving kerchief.
197.001:37 1950Jct. Vernal Pool Trail. Went right. Sign: "Ranch Road 0.8 mi; Vernal Pool Trailhead 0.4 mi; Adobes 1.3 mi".
207.301:45 2000Vernal Pool Trailhead.

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Copyright © 1998-2000 by Tom Chester.
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Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Updated 21 December 1998.