I’ve been traveling down the California coast for the last few months and have spent a few weeks in San Diego. The coast is wonderful. But it’s not very good for (free) camping. Especially right when I passed through, with the entire National Forest area at Big Sur closed due to a fire. So even though I’ve been driving down that coast and seeing wonderful places, I spent every single night in a city. Curtains up. Peeing in a bottle and dumping it out on people’s lawns. Driving multiple times each day. These are slightly annoying details of a way of living that is still very easy. But being in cities so much fed a longing to get the hell out of the city, go camp/hike/bicycle, and stay parked in one place for days at a time. So I found a nice place to go camping near San Diego.

 

Where?

I was in San Diego. There are numerous options. Extremely nice ones if you’re willing to drive a few hours. But I wasn’t. I looked at the big chunk of Cleveland National Forest that is directly east of San Diego. It looks nice, but the places that look good to camp are at a fairly high altitude (~3,500′) and in December would be colder than I like. There is a smaller part of Cleveland National forest to the north of San Diego (and a bit east) – just directly north of Ramona. It’s at lower altitude and looked promising on the maps.

I went just a few miles north of Ramona, and then up a hill. There is a Forest Road, or as they call it here, a “Truck Trail” that follows the top of a ridgeline. This meant I got nice views in at least two direction. WOO HOOOO!

Get the hell out of the city. Camping in Cleveland National Forest near Ramona and San Diego

Driving up:

Get the hell out of the city. Camping near San Diego.

Here is the first spot I camped:

Get the hell out of the city. Camping near San Diego.

 

Get the hell out of the city. Camping near San Diego.

 

Get the hell out of the city. Camping near San Diego.

 

Get the hell out of the city. Camping near San Diego.

 

Get the hell out of the city. Camping near San Diego.

 

What do you do up there? Do you get bored?

Here’s what I did over 6 or 7 days.

  • Hiked a couple times
  • Bicycled on three or four days
  • Took a lot of pictures
  • Recorded video of driving the van along the ridge top, and of bicycling (For my friend to use in a video that he’s making)
  • Watched a football game (Yep, I had internet up there)
  • Wrote a bunch of blog posts (to get caught up on my travels to date)
  • Played a computer game
  • Read a book
  • Read and watched stuff on the internet

Nope, not bored.

Get the hell out of the city. Camping near San Diego.

 

Get the hell out of the city. Camping near San Diego.

 

After a few days, I moved to another spot where I could walk just a little ways to take really nice pictures and fairly good video to give to my friend.

Get the hell out of the city. Camping near San Diego.

 

Get the hell out of the city. Camping near San Diego.

 

Get the hell out of the city. Camping near San Diego.

Get the hell out of the city. Camping near San Diego.

 

If you want to go here:

The coordinates are 33.123648,-116.879194. This was the first places I went in the part of the National Forest, so for all I know, there could be way better places to go.

The good:

  • Great views from the ridge
  • Great Verizon signal (for 3G at least)
  • Good hiking/biking along these truck trails
  • Not very far from San Diego
  • Fairly low elevation (less than 2,000′), so it’s not all that cold

The bad:

  • This area used to be designated for gun shooting. There are casings and shells all over the ground in many places. And a lot of broken glass. There are signs warning about high lead content. Don’t lick the ground here!

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Get the hell out of the city. Camping near San Diego.

 

Get the hell out of the city. Camping near San Diego.

 

This really doesn’t do the view justice, but here you go