Back when they were naming mountains in San Diego, apparently no one bothered with a deconfliction log, because we somehow ended up with two Black Mountains. We’d hiked the smaller Black Mountain near Rancho Penasquitos earlier in the year, and this day I set out with one of my Facebook friends to tackle the more imposing Black Mountain of Ramona.
We met up at the Ramona Denny’s and carpooled to the trailhead together. I knew it was going to be an awesome hike when we saw both a coyote and bobcat as we were driving down scenic Pamo Road. We found our starting point where the Santa Ysabel Truck Trail turned off to the right, and parked our car on the side of Pamo Road.
The Truck Trail is usually open to vehicles, and appears to a be a popular offroading spot (as we would soon discover), but it’s really only suitable for high clearance 4WD vehicles. Of course we were going to do it the awesome way and hike to the top. Since we started pretty early, we had the road mostly to ourselves on the way to the summit, but we were passed by a number of Jeeps and dirt bikes on our descent.
It was a grey and overcast day. We were getting an early start and the cool morning air encouraged us to set a brisk pace to keep warm. It had recently rained so the rocks and soil were dark with moisture.
The incline was gradual at first, but quickly increased. While it wasn’t obscenely steep by any measure, it was enough to cause some protest from my leg muscles which hadn’t had a chance to warm up yet. I ignored the slight burn, knowing it would fade as we progressed, and admired our surroundings.
We started to encounter some rougher road at this point, with large puddles edged with thick, slippery mud. Our pace slowed as we carefully navigated the obstacles, trying to keep upright through the slick mud.
Soon enough, however, we came to a wide point in the road that was a total mess. I’m not sure if some offroaders had been doing donuts here or what, but the road was deeply chewed up, and we sank into the soft, deep soil. There was no dry edge that we could escape to, so we slogged slowly through the doughy soil. The moist earth clung to our shoes, weighing us down and further slowing our progress.
We were passed by a group of mountain bikers, one of which had even more colorful things to say about the mud then we did as he was forced to dismount. They seemed a bit incredulous that we were hiking the entire distance to the summit.
At 5.4 miles we found a nice shady stretch where oak and sycamore trees once again overhung the trail. A large, cement block structure stood at the side of the trail. The structure was actual a cistern of sorts, full of water, apparently fed by a spring. We took advantage of the seating opportunity and idyllic setting to enjoy a short rest break.
At the top of mud hill was… more mud. And actually, more hill too. We came to a large open area with a closed gate at the far end, which we ignored. We turned right as the road made a nearly 180 degree bend, passed through another open gate, and continued ever upward.
Finally, we squeezed around some overgrown brush, scrambled up a couple of rocks, and reached the top. We had to share the summit with some solar panels and other equipment, but found some nice rocks to sit on and enjoy the views.
We ate some snacks and had a nice rest, but before long we started getting cold and headed back.
From downtown Ramona, head north on 7th street. Turn right onto Elm Street and continue for 1.4 miles. Turn right onto W Haverford Road then left onto Pamo Road. Follow Pamo Road for 5.2 miles to the gated Forest Service Road entrance on your right. Park along Pamo Road. map
|Total Distance:||14.5 miles|
|Total Ascent:||3193 feet|
|Dog Friendly?:||Leashed dogs allowed|
|Bike Friendly?:||Bikes allowed|
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