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Bag San Diego County's highest peak-Hot Springs Mountain-on the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation.

Some of the loftiest -- and loneliest -- mountain country in San Diego County lies on the 25,000-acre Los Coyotes Indian Reservation. You won't find any casino here, but you will discover San Diego County's obscure high point, Hot Springs Mountain. At elevation 6533 feet, it beats the better-known 6512-foot Cuyamaca Peak by a whisker. With its network of graded and unmaintained roads (only a few of which are shown on the adjoining map), the reservation draws a steady stream of weekend campers, hikers, mountain bikers, and four-wheel-drive enthusiasts. Trail motorcycles are not allowed; leashed dogs are.

Hot Springs Mountain may be approached by way of three distinct routes. The maintained but dry and dusty 7.6-mile-long Lookout Road leading to a disused fire-lookout tower atop the mountain is perfect for high-clearance vehicles and mountain bikers. A shorter, steeper, more precarious jeep road ascending from the reservation's main campground can be used instead.

Most hikers will enjoy the shorter climb from Nelson's Camp, a small campground accessible by car in the remote northern portion of the reservation. From the camp, hike west and then south up a densely shaded north-facing slope on a primitive road barely negotiable by the most nimble of off-road vehicles. Once you reach the top of the hill, turn right and complete the walk to the summit via the Lookout Road. This hike measures 2.8 miles one-way, with an elevation gain of 1250 feet.

The old lookout tower has become increasingly dilapidated and dangerous -- with rotting and broken wooden steps. A better view awaits you just east, on a small concrete platform topping a large boulder. This is the true summit of Hot Springs Mountain. A bit of hand-and-toe climbing is required to gain the last 20 feet of elevation. As seen from the flat platform, steep canyons yawn to the west and north, and the Salton Sea often shimmers like a mirage on the eastern horizon. On sunny days, soaring enthusiasts riding the thermals quietly buzz the summit using their lean-looking aircraft.

To reach the Los Coyotes reservation, turn east on Camino San Ignacio from Highway 79 at Warner Springs and follow the signs. Entry fees are $10 per car, $12 for overnight camping. Los Coyotes is open year-round on the weekends and holidays, weather and road conditions permitting. Call first if you plan to visit on a weekday: 760-782-0711.

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Some of the loftiest -- and loneliest -- mountain country in San Diego County lies on the 25,000-acre Los Coyotes Indian Reservation. You won't find any casino here, but you will discover San Diego County's obscure high point, Hot Springs Mountain. At elevation 6533 feet, it beats the better-known 6512-foot Cuyamaca Peak by a whisker. With its network of graded and unmaintained roads (only a few of which are shown on the adjoining map), the reservation draws a steady stream of weekend campers, hikers, mountain bikers, and four-wheel-drive enthusiasts. Trail motorcycles are not allowed; leashed dogs are.

Hot Springs Mountain may be approached by way of three distinct routes. The maintained but dry and dusty 7.6-mile-long Lookout Road leading to a disused fire-lookout tower atop the mountain is perfect for high-clearance vehicles and mountain bikers. A shorter, steeper, more precarious jeep road ascending from the reservation's main campground can be used instead.

Most hikers will enjoy the shorter climb from Nelson's Camp, a small campground accessible by car in the remote northern portion of the reservation. From the camp, hike west and then south up a densely shaded north-facing slope on a primitive road barely negotiable by the most nimble of off-road vehicles. Once you reach the top of the hill, turn right and complete the walk to the summit via the Lookout Road. This hike measures 2.8 miles one-way, with an elevation gain of 1250 feet.

The old lookout tower has become increasingly dilapidated and dangerous -- with rotting and broken wooden steps. A better view awaits you just east, on a small concrete platform topping a large boulder. This is the true summit of Hot Springs Mountain. A bit of hand-and-toe climbing is required to gain the last 20 feet of elevation. As seen from the flat platform, steep canyons yawn to the west and north, and the Salton Sea often shimmers like a mirage on the eastern horizon. On sunny days, soaring enthusiasts riding the thermals quietly buzz the summit using their lean-looking aircraft.

To reach the Los Coyotes reservation, turn east on Camino San Ignacio from Highway 79 at Warner Springs and follow the signs. Entry fees are $10 per car, $12 for overnight camping. Los Coyotes is open year-round on the weekends and holidays, weather and road conditions permitting. Call first if you plan to visit on a weekday: 760-782-0711.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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