Rock Mountain

The Rock Mountain Preserve in Fallbrook is a small preserve just north of the Santa Margarita River hiking trail. Managed by the Fallbrook Land Conservancy, it is a short, rugged hike to a scenic outcropping of rocks overlooking the river valley. Sadly, there is a significant amount of graffiti around the summit area, but the impressive views and enjoyable rock scrambling more than make up for it.

We made the long drive to Fallbrook and found the trailhead without difficulty. As we pulled into the small parking area, a gentleman with a dog and young boy were just finishing up their hike. They let us know that they had seen a rattlesnake on the trail about halfway up. We thanked them for the warning and made a mental note to be extra alert. While rattlesnakes are just about everywhere in San Diego, we figured the chances of running into one were much higher on a rugged, remote trail with little traffic like this one.

A set of wooden steps led uphill from the parking area, and we started to climb.

At the top of the steps, the trail bent to the right, curving along the contour of the hill.

The trail began to climb steeply up the flank of the mountain.

In just a couple of minutes we reached the southern side of the peak and the trail began to wrap around to the northeast. We already had some great views of the river valley below, and we could even hear rushing water.

We quickly returned our attention back to the trail and resumed our ascent. There was tall, dry grass encroaching on the trail and we stayed vigilant for any sign of rattlesnakes.

It didn’t take long to catch our first glimpse of our goal.

The trail continued to get steeper, rockier, and more eroded as we climbed.

At .36 miles we came to a “T” junction, where an odd silver pipe was sticking up out of the ground (closer inspection revealed it to be an air release valve, the purpose of which I could not discern). We took the left fork, which continued up the mountain.

The trail wound up the mountain side through more dry brush. Large clumps of dry, bronze colored buckwheat lined the trail.

Around .46 miles we came to a flat spot. The trail up the mountain climbed steeply uphill on our left. To the right was a use trail that led to a small overlook point, and partially obscured by the brush we found an old, rusted car.

We took a few minutes to check out the views and examine the car, trying to figure out how it ended up here. We had no viable theories and decided the view was a better thing to focus our minds on anyway.

We continued heading up the trail, which at this point was in pretty rough shape.

We managed to get up the heavily eroded and steep section past the car without incident. The next section was pretty rocky, but not overly treacherous.

As we progressed, we were doing more and more rock scrambling.

We reached what turned out to be a false summit and surveyed the final goal ahead of us.

A path on the left led us to a narrow and rocky route up the final climb. We put away our trekking poles at this point so we’d have our hands free for climbing.

At last we reached the rocky high point of Rock Mountain. We were saddened to find that some jerkwads had defaced the beautiful peak with graffiti, but we kicked back to enjoy the views anyway.

Eventually we retraced our route back down to the parking area, and never did see any rattlesnakes.

View the full photo gallery

Take I-15 to the Mission Rd/Fallbrook exit. Turn left onto old Hwy 395, then turn right onto Mission Rd. Follow Mission Rd for approximately 4.9 miles, then turn right onto N Pico Ave. Continue as N Pico Ave turns into De Luz Road. After approximately 1.1 miles, stay to the right to turn onto Sandia Creek Dr. After 1.3 miles, turn left to continue on Sandia Creek Dr. Continue for 1.8 miles to find the small staging area on your right. map

Total Distance: 1.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Total Ascent: 886 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes not allowed
Facilities: None
Fees/Permits: None

For more information, visit:
Fallbrook Land Conservancy – Rock Mountain Preserve
View route or download GPX from CalTopo

Comments are closed.