Gail Hanna, Edward Earl, and I hiked this peak - one with either a number 24 or 26 ranking on the San Diego County prominence list. Regardless, Margarita Peak has over 1,000 feet of prominence.
This was a fine Sunday morning. We drove in Gail's pickup with myself in the "kiddie's seat" at the extended cab's rear. The roughly two-hour drive brought us to the eastern base of the southeast-northwest ridge containing Margarita Peak; only a few miles south of Orange County and very close to Camp Pendleton immediately west.
The key to this brushy summit is a firebreak that allows access to the ridge without bushwhacking. The following data (NAD27 CONUS datum) will assist in getting to the summit via this route.
Park along the approach road at UTM (464385 E, 3700811 N), elevation 2,469 feet. Walk south along the road until reaching the base of a firebreak; now marked by a cairn built by Edward; at UTM (464440 E, 3700560 N), elevation 2,509 feet.
Hike west-southwest up the firebreak until topping-out quite near the ridge at UTM (463969 E, 3700253 N), elevation 3,090 feet. Turn right (northwest), shortly passing over the ridge and then descending about 100 horizontal yards on its west side.
Margarita Peak is directly north and is brush-choked apart from a path which is marked by a pair of cairns at its lower terminus at UTM (463803 E, 3700318 N), elevation 3,111 feet. Take this crude path to the summit at UTM (463775 E, 3700432 N), elevation 3,191 feet (GPS-derived).
Fine views all-about. Nice for Edward and Gail to bag a summit after their unsuccessful efforts at Kilimanjaro but the previous month. Similarly, it was nice for myself to wear a mere tee-shirt after the cold weather camping in Colorado the previous weekend.
Atop the peak I enjoyed my summit food - gefilte fish with wasabi-mustard-spiked potato salad and a whole grapefruit.
After the peak we descended, returned to the vehicle, and drove to a parking area just north of the Margarita Lookout at the ridge's north end. The lookout is no longer - only a bunch of concrete and rubble remain. However from there is a fine view in many directions: a well-placed lookout indeed.
Gail ate her lunch here, and I shared some of her food. I obtain for the lookout the GPS-derived UTM coordinates (463163 E, 3701817 W) at 3,083 feet.
The drive home was uneventful apart from feeling queezy - a combination effect of arising too early; being on a winding, dirt road; and having no ventilation in the cab's rear-end. I felt better on reaching pavement.