Hike Cowles Mountain by late afternoon sunlight, and return by moonlight or flashlight. Trek past Smugglers Cave into the Valley of the Moon. Bike around Mission Bay. Watch birds at San Elijo Lagoon. Circumnavigate Middle Peak in the Cuyamacas amid tall sugar pines and white firs. Scramble through a slot ravine and touch four-million-year-old marine fossils in the high and dry Domelands. Or set your sight on one of a hundred publicly accessible San Diego County high points just published in a new "County Peaks List."
As it has for five decades now, the Sierra Club's San Diego chapter offers this year a full plate of activities for anyone wishing to get some exercise and explore San Diego County's natural environment at the same time. The 11,000-member local chapter (which serves San Diego and Imperial Counties) boasts some 1000 outings per year, led by a well-trained cadre of 240 chapter outing leaders, or "COLs." Of the more than 200 trip ideas published in this "Roam-O-Rama" column over the past several years, the majority have been led by local COLs at one time or another.
Some outings are sponsored by special-interest sections within the Sierra Club San Diego chapter: bicycling, conservation, focus on youth, inner-city outings, photography, cross-country skiing, mountaineering, singles, 20s and 30s singles, gay and lesbian Sierrans, and more. The club's official newsletter, The Hi Sierran, lists all outings of interest to the general membership, including some trips organized by the special-interest sections. Each outing notice published in The Hi Sierran includes a three-part code describing the difficulty, mileage, and elevation gain associated with the outing.
All outings are open to the general public, though it is usually necessary to contact the listed COL or assistant leader for reservations. The leaders of any physically challenging outing will "screen" participants, trying to ensure that each participant has the necessary skills and stamina to complete the trip safely.
To learn more about the Sierra Club and its outings program, drop by the San Diego chapter office at 3820 Ray Street in North Park or call 619-299-1743. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.