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Memories of Iron Mountain

Iron Mountain - Scenery
A November sunset view to the east from my Poway home. Poway California in San Diego County.

For me, Iron Mountain is a daily experience. From my property it sits prominently in view when I gaze east from my home. At 2,601 feet elevation, it is not the highest peak in the county. Nearby Mount Woodson, at 2,881 feet stands taller. Yet from the perspective of the valley floor in Poway, it is Iron Mountain that your eye will be drawn to. Even the 6,500+ foot peaks further east are diminished or obscured.

Blue Grosbeak - Passerina caeruleaThere are many miles of hiking trails on the flanks of this mountain. Some wind their way to the summit, while others find loops or out-and-back routes for exploring these chaparral covered slopes. This area has become one of the most popular hiking destinations in San Diego County.

When I visit these slopes, it isn’t the highest elevations I seek. I’ve found subjects to entice me well below the summit. There are two trails that leave the parking area for exploring this location. First is a route traveled by most visitors, called Iron Mountain Trail. It exits south from the parking area and then turns east through a tunnel of planted Coastal Live Oaks before winding its way up-slope. This route begins with a wide grass field to the south of the eastbound trail and chaparral on the north.

The second trail I favor leaves the parking area, leading north then slowly curving east. This is a less travelled route that ascends to a eucalyptus grove at a small summit before descending east to a catchment pond below. The trail then splits, with one path climbing northeast, and another turning south to rejoin the Iron Mountain Trail.

There are choices available for driving routes to this location. From Poway you can follow Poway Road east, and drive up the grade towards Ramona to where it meets Highway 67, then cross the highway at the traffic signal and park in the large parking and staging area.

My favorite memories have been from springtime visits, when male Blue Grosbeaks and Lazuli Buntings are setting up territories. I would council you to follow any trail that intrigues you, and linger often to listen for clues about who might skulk nearby. The gallery below shows some of the images I’ve enjoyed capturing here.

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