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.
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!
Here is the first spot I camped:
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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!
This really doesn’t do the view justice, but here you go