San Diego County High Point Trip Report

Date: November 21, 2001
Authors: Jennifer and Gerry Roach

The official permission requirement on Hot Springs is as stated in Gary Suttle's book. The driving instructions were accurate enough, although the markings on the roads became less obvious as we approached the reservation. From Warner Springs on SR 79, turn east onto Camino San Ignacio, and drive 0.6 mile to Los Tules Road. Turn right onto this road, and drive 5 miles to the Los Coyotes Reservation gate. The check-in building Suttle describes is a little shack, and there are a few dwellings behind it. There are some crudely painted signs posted stating the costs for entering and camping upon the Reservation, but the road directions toward Hot Springs Mountain itself are practically non-existent.

What we didn't realize from Suttle's book is that the route he describes does not make use of the road to the summit. We followed his directions thinking that we were driving on the summit road, and only after some fiddling around did we figure it out, since we had no map. Note that the map in Suttle's book is only of the summit area, and does not give any approach context. Suttle's hiking route starts from a small saddle and heads south on a road that quickly becomes heinous 4WD. This spur road joins the main summit road, which we followed to the top. In other words, if you elect to use Suttle's route, you cannot continue driving to the summit, you must do a 5.6-mile hike. This is a more aesthetic way to do it in any case.

There is a use trail from the summit parking lot to the actual HP, which is a large boulder hidden in the trees north of the summit parking lot. The ascent of the boulder requires a few nifty Class 3 moves on the boulder's north side. The San Diego Hiking Club register is in a can below the boulder, but we only discovered this after leaving a little jar on top of the boulder in a pocket in the summit cement platform. We also ascended the rickety old tower to the south of the summit parking lot, and found this to be the scariest part of the adventure. While the wind howled, we wondered if we were the straws.

Gerry hand leveled from the top of the official HP boulder, and found it to be indeed higher than any of the boulders near the old tower, which is a good thing, since one of the tower-flanking boulders looked very difficult. The top of the HP boulder is about even with the platform on the rickety old tower.

On the descent, we looked for the beginning of main summit road, but were never sure where it turned off, since there are no signs for it. There may be snow or ice near the summit in winter, but you can always hike up either the top part of the summit road if you can find it, or Suttle's route. The reservation is a pretty sleepy place, but it's always best to call ahead, and they can probably tell you where the summit road turnoff is.