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Ascent of Presidio Hill on 2020-06-23

Climber: Jeffrey Swain

Date:Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Presidio Hill
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:182 ft / 55 m

Ascent Trip Report

Trailhead is the Metropolitan Transit District parking lot for Old Town State Historic Park to the west of the Trolley Station and Old Town proper. Nearby is BM 7, which I missed completely. Ignore the porta-potties. They are for bus drivers. A pedestrian tunnel will connect you to Old Town. Old Town is a favorite tourist destination and worth spending a day there in addition to peak-bagging the High Point and Presidio Hill. You will find restrooms inside the State Park. Any worthless tourist junk you want from Tijuana is there. There are also great Mexican restaurants.

Old Town State Historic Park High Point is near the intersection of Juan and Twiggs Street. There is a splotch of tar where the benchmark ought to be. You are 66 feet above sea level at this point. You can follow residential streets up to Presidio Hill. You will pass Presidio Park, a photogenic place and a local favorite for weddings and photo shoots, Back in the 1960s kids used to ride blocks of ice down the grassy slopes.

Presidio Hill his marked by a sign commemorating the Mormon Battalion from the Mexican War 1846-48. The brown dot coincides with a nondescript pile of dirt. The site is a rather shabby collection of plaques, interpretive displays, and a heroic statue of a Mormon Pioneer. There is a flagpole, but no flag was flying.

Once you reach the Presidio, take your time in perusing the grounds of the Serra Museum, a modern building ca. 1923. The museum itself is interesting, but the good stuff has been moved to Balboa Park. From the arcade you can see spectacular views of Mission Valley. There is a heroic Indian statue, a Padre statue, a brick cross, and assorted walls to mark the boundaries of the Presidio.There are at least two observation decks. Both are shabby, vandalized, and homeless habitat. There is a a trail that circumnavigates the Museum. It affords excellent views of Mission Valley and one of the urban canyons of San Diego.

From Presidio Hill I ventured up the hill through the neighborhood of Mission Hills, a venerable old-money kind of place with beautiful old houses and immaculate landscaping. BTW, it's an excellent place to view Christmas lights in season. East of Mission Hills is Hillcrest, a festive locale. The local Gay Pride Parade takes place here.

I made the mistake of following Washington Street in search of the Vermont Street Pedestrian Bridge. Just not safe. If you are retracing my steps, follow University Avenue. It is easier to cross the bridge and come back than it is to follow Washington Street. Visiting the Seven Pedestrian Bridges of San Diego is a pilgrimage unto itself. I recommend you start at the Vermont Street Bridge and work your way south and west. You will have to cross either the Upas Street Bridge or the Cabrillo Bridge twice.

Next bridge on my agenda is the Georgia Street Bridge, which is the technical high point of today's urban adventure. I could not find BM316. Crossing Georgia, I headed south on Park Blvd. in search of Hill 303. Hill 303 now lies in the courtyard of an apartment building. Continuing south, came to another of my bridges, the Park Boulevard Pedestrian Bridge. The Bridge is near an exotic cactus garden and rose garden. The bridge will take you into the heart of Balboa Park, known as The Prado. Prado is home to about 30 assorted museums and art galleries. It is famous for its Spanish fantasy architecture and the facades were feature in Citizen Kane. Benchmark 256 should be in front of the San Diego Natural History Museum but, alas, it is not. Continue west on the Prado and you will pass the California Tower, which is part of the Museum of Man. You will also see the plaza for the Old Globe Theatre, which now includes three venues: a main stage, an arena stage, and the festival stage which is the venue for the annual Shakespeare Festival. Beyond the Prado is the Cabrillo, or Laurel Street, Bridge, which leads across Highway 163 (known locally as The Old 395), terminating at BM 256 on one of the original entrance kiosks. Dog Park is to your south.

At this point, I called Uber to take me back to my car.

If you are inclined to complete the Seven Bridges Hike, you will be looking for the Quince Street and Spruce Street bridges which are close to each other. You can round out the experience by taking Maple Canyon out. This neighborhood is called Bankers Hill and the streets are alphabetical by tree names. So, it's Laurel, Maple, Nutmeg, etc. You will have to double back to cross the Upas Street Pedestrian Bridge.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:175 ft / 53 m
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:175 ft / 53 m
    Start Trailhead:7 ft / 2 m
Descent Statistics
Ascent Part of Trip: SD Urban Hike.20200624

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDateGain
1Old Town San Diego State Historic Park High Point2020-06-2359 ft / 18 m
2Presidio Hill2020-06-23175 ft / 53 m
3Balboa Park Hill 3032020-06-23296 ft / 90 m
Total Trip Gain: 530 ft / 161 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Jeffrey Swain
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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