Ascent of San Mateo Peak on 2017-04-29

Climber: David Comerzan

Date:Saturday, April 29, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:San Mateo Peak
    Elevation:3591 ft / 1094 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was a scheduled hike to this Lower Peak in the Santa Ana Mountains. The leaders were John Kaiser and Rich Maxey. There were eight participants. One of the advantages of joining a hike with experienced local hikers is that they can take you places you never have been. I had been to San Mateo four times before but it was always out and back. John and Rich were taking us on a loop hike that went through some beautiful countryside.
We started at the Morgan Trail Head. To get there, I took 74 west from Elsinore about 5 miles to the South Main Truck Divide Road, turned left and went about 2 ½ miles to the Morgan Trail Head. It was a little windy at the trail head, but this helped keep us cool on what would have been a very warm hike to this Lower Peak. From the trail head, we followed the Morgan Trail about a ¼ mile to a point just before a wooden register box. Here a trail takes a sharp left. Shortly after starting on this trail, we saw a sign that said we were starting the loop trail. And we saw our first dinosaur. This trail is known as the Dinosaur Trail. Someone has placed toy dinosaurs at various points along the trail. We are not sure why dinosaurs were used. My theory is that someone had a child who had toy dinosaurs as a child. They grew up and the parents didn’t know what to do with them, so they placed them on this trail. They were cute.
After about 20 minutes and 5 creek crossing, we came to a junction for the San Mateo trail. At first the trail is indistinct. However, it is marked with a wooden sign, a pile of rocks with a basketball on the pile. I don’t know how that got there. And there is a post with our 2nd dinosaur. Altogether we saw 5 dinosaurs on this loop. After the first few steps the trail is more visible, leads uphill and is easy to follow.
After about 15 minutes, we saw a bump with a white flag on it. This was Peak 3064. I wanted to do it because it is on Peakbagger. This peak use to be used by hang gliders hence the flag. They have since found better spots off of the Main Truck Divide road. I and two other went up to this bump while the others took a short break and waited for us. Unfortunately, I started towards the peak too soon and had to push my way through a bunch of brush. Fortunately, it was a short distance to the summit. On the summit, we found the flag pole and a good use trail that leads up to the summit. If we had went a few feet further on the San Mateo trail, we would have found this use trail and saved ourselves some scratches. We took the good use trail back to the San Mateo Trail.
Back on the San Mateo trail we continued on towards the peak. It is an easy trail to follow. The summit of San Mateo has a number of large boulders. We did find a rather wet register. After signing the register and taking our summit photos, John pointed out a number of the local peaks and ranches in the area. He also gave us some history of the area.
From the summit, we continued on. This is where the route became new for me. In a short distance we came to a spot where we had an excellent view of the Potrero De La Cienega and various ranches in the area. From this viewpoint we continue on, walking through a grassy meadow and coming to a junction. Going straight at this junction would take you to the Tenaja Falls according to a very old, rickety sign. But we were doing the loop hike so we turn left at this junction and continued on to the community of Rancho Capistrano. Rancho Capistrano is a development of 5 acres lots with some very lovely homes. We took several roads through the community to a point where an old road with an open gate starts. Here we stopped for lunch. After lunch, we followed this old road which soon became the loop trail that took us back to the Morgan Trail and our cars.
It was an excellent day. The weather was not as hot as we feared, it was a good group and John and Rich were excellent leaders. I was glad I was able to make it.
After the hike, I had a little time so I decided to pick up another Peakbagger bump in Elsinore called Rome Hill. To get to it, I went back 74 to Grand, turned right, went about 3 ½ miles to a stop light with a school on the corner. This was Gregory St. I took it to the end, parked and started up towards Rome. It was just a short distance of pushing my way up through waist high brush. Once on the top, I discovered an old road that was brush free all the way to the summit. It just wasn’t my day for route finding. If I were to do this again, I would go one street pass Gregory to Rome Hill Road. This road takes you to a saddle where the road to the summit begins. A good 4WD could actually drive to the summit. On the summit I did not find any register or benchmark, but there were some excellent views of Lake Elsinore.
9:00 am Depart. 2870’
9:20 am Junction with San Mateo Trail
9:35 am Peak 3064
10:25 am San Mateo Summit. 3591’
11:45 am Community of Rancho Capistranco
1:15 pm Car. 6 ¾ miles round trip, 943’ gain, 4 hours, 15 minutes.
2:00 pm Depart. 1300’
2:10 pm Rome Hill Summit. 1446’
2:25 pm Car. 6/10th mile round trip, 120’ gain, 25 minutes.
Total for the day: 7.35 miles round trip, 1063’ gain, 4 hours, 40 minutes

Summary Total Data
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by David Comerzan
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