Hiking/caching on the PCT near Mt. Laguna

Garnet Peak with the Salton Sea way off in the distance

Choices, choices! Do I go with my friends and bounce around in a 4×4 south of Ocotillo Wells or find a nice place to hike? I was sure both would be enjoyable, but in the end the attraction of hiking in trees at near 6,000 ft on the Pacific Crest Trail won out.

My trip planning research had revealed a large concentration of caches on the PCT near Mount Laguna in the Cleveland National Forest (south of Julian, if that rings a bell). Then my GBA friends mentioned Phil’s Memorial Cache (the oldest active cache in California) was in the same area. So, I decided I really wanted to spend the day hiking, not driving.

I left the motel in Borrego Springs about 8 am and drove south with a stop in Julian for a coffee and then on to the trailhead at Penney Pines. Now there used to be pines here, but a fire a few years ago took most of them. In no time, I was hiking north on the PCT and finding caches. The trail is an easy hike, but just to the east is a dramatic drop off, so the views east to the desert and the Salton Sea are great. And, from one of the high points, I could see the Pacific Ocean (or a fog bank) to the west. Unfortunately, it was fairly hazy.

After a 4 mile hike that I turned into a loop by hiking back along the road, I drove to another trailhead and began a hike out to Big Laguna Lake. This trail was another fairly level one through pine and oak forest. It was a very enjoyable area, and I found several caches on the way to the lake. This hike was 4.8 miles.

Stats for the day: 8.9 miles, 1100 ft of climbing, and 28 caches.

I drove back to Borrego Springs, thinking that I might meet up with my friends for dinner, but when I got there they were just getting dinner in El Centro. After dinner, I drove back to Palm Springs for the night.

PCT hike, Laguna Mountain photo gallery

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