Ascent of Soledad Mountain on 2020-08-04

Climber: Jeffrey Swain

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Soledad Mountain
    Elevation:822 ft / 250 m

Ascent Trip Report

This is another of my urban walks. I completed part of it in my Pottery Canyon hike, but I never got to any of the peaks related to Soledad Mountain. In fact there are four peaks on Soledad, all of which I completed on this hike. There are a few twists and turns to this expedition, which I will elaborate in turn. Note that there are differences in the street names between the toposheet and the road map. Also note that certain parklands have been settled with expensive homes. True peaks, waypoints, and benchmarks have likewise been fenced off. Also worth noting is that there are plenty of parking spaces on the mountain. There is a cul-de-sac that leads to a wilderness that might lead to The Cross.

Parking need not be an issue for this hike. The cul-de-sac for The San Diego Children's School (Scripps School on the map) has room for public parking. Due to COVID-19, the school is not in operation and the south side of the street is dedicated to pick-up and drop-off. I looked at the parking signs and found no prohibition to parking. Indeed, there were a few private cars on the street. I found no parking ticket when it was over. Restrooms are across Torrey Pines Road at the Shell Station. You might enjoy taking the pedestrian bridge across. I'm guessing the altitude is 64 feet above sea level.

First objective on today's trip was marked on the Map and the "Nearby Peaks" as the Easter Cross, 811 feet. Ordinarily, this would be the crown jewel of this hike, but the fog had not lifted when I got there. The cross still stands, having been erected on public land in the 1950s. It has been a source of major controversy for most of my adult life as it represents a Christian symbol on public land. The cross has been deeded over the a private concern by an act of Congress and now stands as a Veterans Memorial. To get to the Cross, walk west into the cul-de-sac in front of the Children's School. There is a sidewalk that connects to Hidden Valley Road. Follow Hidden Valley Road to Via Capri. When you get to the top of Via Capri, you will see the Cross. Turn left toward the Cross. You will see porta-potties in the parking lot. This will be your last chance for the rest of the day. On a bright and sunny day, the views from the Cross are spectacular, including Downtown San Diego, Pacific Beach, Point Loma, Downtown La Jolla, La Jolla Shores, Scripps Pier, UC San Diego, the VA hospital, the Mormon temple, Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, and the suburbs and mountains to the east.

Second objective is Soledad Mountain at 822 feet and the highest point on the hike. You will recognize it as an antenna farm for local radio, TV, and emergency services. A gate keeps the public out, although it was open when I got there. Stealth is recommended. Keep the fences on your left and creep through the bushes. Indeed, Benchmark 822 rests behind a fence. If it exists at all it will be at the bottom of a radio tower among the rubble or broken concrete. I exited through the same gate and engaged in some pointless wandering before I found the right way to the next destination.

The third objective is the La Jolla Natural Park, 647 feet, marked as La Jolla Heights Park on the toposheet. On one hand, this is a bleak little outpost of native chaparral, used and abused by bikers, vandals, and party animals. There is evidence of campfires past and litter. There is a trash barrel near the top, filled with cans and bottles of alcoholic beverages and cartsons of fast food. On the other hand, there is a bench for quiet contemplation, spectacular views of Downtown La Jolla, the Shores, and points north and east. At this point, the fog had lifted and the views were better. There is a benchmark of sorts, and it is not on the brown dot, nor on the X that marks the spot. If you sit on the bench and look to the right, you will see a little pipe coming out of the ground that looks like a sprinkler head. That's the benchmark.

Fourth and last objective is La Jolla Mesa at 582 feet. From the Natural Park, you want to find your way back to La Jolla Scenic drive without taking too many detours. What was once La Jolla Mesa Park is now cut off by expensive home, so don't count on restrooms when you get there. What was Benito Drive is now Camino del Teatro, a residential street of expensive homes. The nearest thing to a marker is the mailbox at 1705 Camino del Teatro. Some well-meaning person has placed some stones and a metal object on top of the mailbox.

Having reached my four destinations, I took an Uber back to my car.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
At 822 feet, Soledad Mountain is the highest of the four destinations. The alleged benchmark is fenced off and buried at the base of the KOGO radio transmitter tower (2020-08-04). Photo by Jeffrey Swain.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:738 ft / 224 m
    Total Elevation Loss:242 ft / 73 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.9 mi / 12.7 km
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:738 ft / 224 m
    Distance:7.8 mi / 12.6 km
    Route:La Jolla Scenic Drive and Via Casa Alta
    Start Trailhead:The Children's School  84 ft / 25 m
    Time:6 Hours 47 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:242 ft / 73 m
    Distance:0.1 mi / 0.2 km
    End Trailhead:811 Camino del Teatro  580 ft / 176 m
    Time:1 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Soledad Mountain

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Easter Cross2020-08-04747 ft / 228 m
2Soledad Mountain2020-08-04738 ft / 225 m
3Peak 647-La Jolla2020-08-04583 ft / 178 m
4La Jolla Mesa2020-08-04516 ft / 157 m
Total Trip Gain: 2584 ft / 788 m    Total Trip Loss: 475 ft / 144 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Jeffrey Swain
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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