Description: Lawson Peak
Date: Mar. 11, 2012
Time: 3 hrs and 34 minutes
Distance: 8.4 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 2000 ft.
Maximum Elevation: 3606 ft.
Trail Map: Unavailable
Google Earth: Download the KMZ file
Additional Resources: 100peaks.com; San Diego Union-Tribune.com; Peakbagging.com; www.sdctc.com
Lawson Peak – A Walk, A Scramble, and A Climb.
Even though I’ve been hiking around San Diego a lot (350 miles and over three days, so far), this gem escaped me until a couple of week ago. No one told me how awesome this hike is. It has immediately muscled its way into my top five hikes in the county which are, in no particular order, (1) Lawson Peak, (2) Oakzanita Peak, (3) Penasquitos Canyon, (4) Torrey Pines, and (5) Stonewall Peak. Although my hiking partner and I had meant to tackle nearby Gaskill Peak on the same trip, after summitting Lawson and whacking through some bush after a missed turn, we called it a day.
What makes this 5 mile hike so amazing is the variety of slopes to reach the top, resulting in three stages of three very different exercises. The hike includes a ‘leisurely’ two-mile walk to the base, followed by a half-mile of steep scrambling, capped by bouldering to the top. The first two miles are rather mundane, but a not insignificant slope (~13%) to get the heart pumping (great cardio workout). The next half-mile requires the use of your hands (mostly for balance) and some big steps (decent lower body workout). Finally, to actually make it all the up requires just enough actual rock climbing (a short but sweet upper body workout).
If it were simply a workout, it would still be fun, but the area (due south of Cuyamaca) is also beautiful. The views are above average, and after the exertion to reach the top, quite rewarding. This is a hike I’m looking forward to sharing with friends, as it’s mild enough for a beginner, but offers exposure to much of what hiking has to offer.
Walk – Looking back down part of first two miles of the ‘walk’ stage.
Scramble – Looking up the next half-mile of the ‘scramble’ stage.
Climb – Lookout over the boulders after the ‘climb’ stage.
Exiting the Cave – The climbing starts with two big leaps that put you in a cave. This is the view out.
Enjoying the Cave – Once you’re in the cave, you crawl out a tight (but not too tight) hole in the back which is glowing behind me.
Entering the Cave – That’s the hole I was talking about.
Cuyamaca – Also visible in San Diego, this view from the south puts Cuyamaca Peak in another wonderful perspective.
I Love Hiking
This is not the studio version of Hold On Tightly, which I thought appropriate because of the rock climbing aspect of this hike. Even as a John Denver fan, I didn’t hear this version until a couple of weeks ago. I must admit that I haven’t always been a fan of the studio version, but this version made me fall in love with the song. Although the studio version shows its date (off the 1983 album, It’s About Time), this version sounds timeless.