As a north county native, I decided to hike a local favorite this past Saturday in my area, Monserate Mountain in Fallbrook. Monserate Mountain is a 340-acre preserve that is located right along the 15 freeway in Fallbrook. This hike features a 1567-foot high destination that offers 360 degree views of the beautiful surrounding area as well as the Pacific Ocean on a clear day.
The best way to get here from south San Diego is to take the 15 North and exit at Highway 76. Take a left onto the 76 and take your next right onto Old Highway 395. Continue for about 2.5 miles and take a right onto Stewart Canyon Road which will take you underneath the 15. The next cross street will be Pankey Road where there is plenty of space to park on the right (see above picture). The trailhead is located directly behind the parking space.
The trail wastes no time as it quickly climbs up the mountain’s steep slopes. Make sure to bring plenty of water as you will be huffing and puffing sooner rather than later. After about a mile you will reach a paved/gravel road where you will make a left and continue up the mountain. There are a few side paths along the way which you can ignore as the trails are well-marked and make it easy for you to find your way.
Just below the mountain’s summit you will reach a fork in the trail. Follow the trail to the right to do the loop which will take you back down to the road. Follow the trail to the left for a short distance to reach the summit of Monserate Mountain. The summit offers amazing views of the avocado filled landscapes of Fallbrook and a view of the ocean on a nice day. Sleeping Indian is a popular landmark of Fallbrook which you can easily spot from the top of Monserate Mountain (see above picture). At the top you can find a summit register to sign your name and you may possibly find a cache to exchange items if you keep your eyes peeled!
This is not the easiest hike in the world as it is almost all up hill with very few flat sections. You are rewarded along your way though with botanical highlights and great smells of many of our native plants. The payoff is at the top and it is definitely a sight to see for all outdoors people. Keep your eye out for snakes on a hot day as they have been spotted on this trail. I encourage anybody exploring the north San Diego county area to experience this hike for themselves! Have fun!