Category Archives: San Diego

Hiking Battle Mountain off the San Diego Beaten Path

During a visit to San Diego I stayed in Rancho Bernardo on the north end of town and looked for ways to spend some time outdoors, while also venturing off the beaten path.

The Battle Mountain hike I went on checked off both those boxes. You’ll find Battle Mountain just off I-15 with its entrance oddly enough between two houses in a highly residential area. I initially discovered and captured this hill on another walk.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

I wound up doing this climb just after dawn on an overcast morning.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

The short 15-20 minute hike was peaceful. It was a little steep and rocky at times but all-in-all not too bad. I noticed a lot of erosion along the way. My legs definitely got a workout. The climb is roughly 800 feet.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

Once at the top, you will see up-close the 20 foot white cross that has stood since 1966. Battle Mountain got its name from a battle that was held nearby in San Pasqual Valley in the 1800’s. This spot was originally called Mule Hill as soldiers from those battles had to kill mules in order to have food to eat.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

Expansive panoramic views awaited me at the top. I saw all the residential housing of northern San Diego County, along with Starvation and Iron Mountains, Lake Hodges and more.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego California hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

Lake Hodges, San Diego, California

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

The hike, well almost run, down the hill took only a matter of minutes. It was a great morning in the Rancho Bernardo part of San Diego walking/hiking up Battle Mountain and taking in the views. For anyone looking for a quick hike and something off the radar in northern San Diego County, this is your spot.

Tip: For a longer hiking adventure I highly recommend the San Dieguito River Park Trail, in which there is an entrance literally right across the street from Battle Mountain.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

What other off the radar outdoor spots would you recommend checking out in San Diego?

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Back to sharing skylines I go which leads me back to the A Million Skyline Looks series.

The latest edition comes from Southern California and a city known for its mild climate all year long, beautiful San Diego.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Downtown scene from the San Diego–Coronado Bridge.

I was excited to get a first taste of what San Diego has to offer. Most of my shots are from Coronado Island and along San Diego Bay as well as from random spots on the interstate. Always have that camera ready in the car, especially if you are a passenger! Palm trees make me happy so a lot of the skyline views made me smile even more. Well without further ado.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Beautiful Downtown San Diego from northbound I-5.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks from across San Diego Bay

Skyline straight ahead, opposite San Diego Bay.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Heading onto I-5 northbound. San Diego, California front-and-center.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks from Tidelands Park on Coronado Island

Palms trees guarding the skyline in Tidelands Park on Coronado Island.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks from Coronado Island

San Diego, California cityscape straight ahead!

Sailboats guarding the San Diego skyline

Who is ready to set sail in Downtown San Diego, California?!

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

What a harbor and city view these palm trees get to experience every day. Looking southward.

Beautiful Downtown San Diego, California amongst the palm trees

Capturing the San Diego skyline and palm trees every chance I get.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks, California

Heading off California State Route 75 and the San Diego-Coronado Bridge into town.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks, from the San Diego-Coronado Bridge

Looking straight down Harbor Drive from up-top the San Diego–Coronado Bridge.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Always have that camera ready as a passenger. You never know when a skyline will present itself.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks, from the friendly skies

Skyline peaking through the window upon descent into San Diego International Airport.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Coronado Island greenery amongst the San Diego, California cityscape.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Out on the open Tidelands Park trail.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Just a typical clear, warm day in San Diego from Coronado Island.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Out on the open road capturing the San Diego skyline amongst palm trees.

What other spots would you recommend capturing the San Diego skyline from?

The Africa Tram at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

When in San Diego a lot of people visit the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, which sits right in the heart of the city. While in town you should head thirty-five miles northeast and take in their other gem, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

While the main zoo has more animals, it’s limited in terms of space. That is certainly not the case at this expansive park just outside Escondido, California. The animals here roam outdoors within expansive enclosures and the parks 1,800 acres. They want the animals to experience a setting that resembles their natural habitat.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Escondido, California

You can enjoy this up close on the Africa Tram. We went on the 40-plus minute tour with many others siting in a colorful train car. The tour guide explained to everyone what we were seeing all along the way.

We saw some of the three-thousand animals and three-hundred species that the San Diego Safari Park has to offer including giraffes, antelopes, buffalo, zebra, birds and rhinos. With the open dry land, greenery, mountains and desert off in the distance it kinda felt we were out in the wild. Below are some of the pictures I took during this safari tour experience.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram - giraffe

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

Some other information:

  • Tours start at 10 a.m. running until 45 minutes before the park closes. We took one of the first tours out because the lines and wait will build fast leading into lunchtime.
  • You can purchase tickets at the tram entrance gate, but we got the 1-Day passes online to the Safari Park which includes the African Tram tour.
  • Bring plenty of fluids, especially in the summer. The park sits inland in the San Pasqual Valley, which has a desert like climate.
  • Have your cameras ready of course! The train will stop at various points for picture-taking opportunities.

Check the San Diego Zoo Safari Park out as they are active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

What other zoos would you recommend visiting in the US and the world?

Out on the Open San Dieguito River Park Trail

Amongst the hustle and bustle of Southern California, near San Diego, sits the 92,000-acre open San Dieguito River Park. The park and all its natural space stretches from the Pacific coastline in Del Mar to Volcan Mountain some 50+ miles inland. You will find over 65 miles of trails of all shapes and sizes to enjoy the outdoors and some hiking adventure.

I spent separate mornings early this year checking out two trails in the northern part of San Diego in Rancho Bernardo. Both sat amongst suburbia, yet gave off the feeling of being in a deserted land far, far away.

The 2.1 Highland Valley Trail sits along the south side of the San Dieguito River Valley.

I entered the trail along Highland Valley Road and immediately could see the vast valley views looking north. The single path took me through and around small hills with times in the woods, passing by countless rock formations. It was a good early morning hike.

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

The Bernardo Bay Trails sit opposite I-15 along W. Bernardo Dr. Leaving the Natural Area parking area, I walked amongst coastal sage scrub on the 2.1 miles of hillside trails.

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

After a little bit out on the open dirt paths, Lake Hodges and Bernardo Bay was front-and-center. I didn’t happen to see any, but it is a good spot to check various species of birds. I did set up shop on a big rock to soak in the picturesque views in front of me.

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

Additional Information:
– There are no facilities on either trail.
– Both are bike friendly.
– In general you can’t venture off any of the trails in the park to help preserve all its nature, nor enter onto them at night.

For more visit the San Dieguito River Park website.

What are some other trails you would recommend checking out within the San Dieguito River Park and/or in Southern California?

A San Diego Area Beach To Get Away From It All.

In the San Diego area and looking to get away from the hustle-and-bustle of Southern California? Make the trek over to Coronado Island and then down California State Route 75 to Silver Strand State Beach.

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

The beach sits on the narrow strip of land that connects Coronado proper with Imperial Beach. You’ll find beaches on each side of the highway, along both San Diego Bay to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. All of the photos below are from the ocean side.

As you head onto the beach from the main parking area, look to the right down the coast and you’ll see the heart of Coronado and Point Loma off in the distance. The beach is away from town, so you will find it not nearly as busy as nearby Coronado Beach. No hustle-and-bustle here!

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

Turn to the left, now heading southward on the white and black sanded beach, and you will see the mountains and hills of Tijuana and Mexico which sits only ten or so miles away.

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

Starring out into the blue waters of the Pacific, your bound to see a military ship or two off in the distance.

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

As you walk the beach who knows what you’ll encounter. Amongst the many bits of seashells, I had my first ever encounter with a sand dollar. They are a frequent sight here. If you look down you might spot some moon snail, cockle and silver oyster shells as well, the last of which is how the beach got its name.

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

Seaweed, common on a lot of beaches, is on the light side here. This was one of the cleanest and biggest, non-decaying pieces of seaweed I have ever seen.

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

Tip: To access the San Diego Bay side of the state park and beaches, just park on the Pacific side and take one of the walking tunnels underneath the road. There is no parking available on that side.

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

What other beaches around San Diego and in Southern California would you recommend to get away from it all?