Heather and I were joined by our friends Rae and Robert on Sunday, May 9th for a drive in the local mountains. We started out from the little community of Pine Valley, located in the backcountry of eastern San Diego County, and drove up a little road called Pine Creek Road. The road starts out from Old US 80 as a narrow 2 lanes, and after a bit it enters the Cleveland National Forest and becomes a barely paved one-lane forest service road as it follows the path of Pine Creek upwards into the Laguna Mountains. There are lots of old oak trees along the way.
You can stay on pavement all way to Sunrise Highway, but we took a detour along Deer Park Road, a sort-of graded dirt track that continues north. After a ways it ends, and you have to turn back the way you came, but not before you come across some interesting old artifacts.
This appears to be the remains of an old arrastra, which was likely used to crush quartz ore in order to extract gold.
After we got back to Pine Creek Road we continued up over a ridge line and into the Laguna Mountains Recreation Area, which still shows the scars of the massive forest fire from 2003. This first shot is looking back towards Pine Creek, which was spared from the fire.
This area used to be heavily covered in pine trees. Not much left now, but the lower vegetation does seem to be coming back.
Once we hit Sunrise Highway we made a few stops to check out the views down towards Anza Borrego. The wind was quite strong, and there was a lot of haze, so no good pictures of the view. We did manage to find the remains of the what appears to be the old Mt. Laguna Air Force Station. This was apparently a defense early warning site that operated from about 1952 to 1981, when the site was taken over by the FAA for use as a radar installation.
They seemed to take the security quite seriously. We didn't go up to the site itself. The views down to the desert from where were parked were pretty spectacular though, but the wind was howling and it was too hazy/dusty down below to get a good picture.
On our way back down we stopped briefly at the Laguna Mountain Lodge for a cold drink, then continued down Sunrise Highway and back to Old US 80 and eventually I-8 and home. It was a perfect day for a Sunday drive in the mountains.
Click here to see more from our Sunday drive.
Photography . . . Travel . . .
- Frank B. Baiamonte
- San Diego, California, United States
- About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.
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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at email@example.com to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage.
Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.