Mount Laguna

MOUNT LAGUNA: A PLACE FOR ALL SEASONS

Backcountry hidden pleasures: our guide to unique lodging and adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry and inland areas

By Miriam Raftery

June 24, 2018 (Mount Laguna) – At 6,000 feet in elevation, Mount Laguna is the highest peak in San Diego’s East County.  From meadows filled with spring wildflowers to summer picnics, colorful fall foliage and winter snowfall, it’s a place to find beauty in all seasons in the heart of Cleveland National Forest.

If you go, consider a stay at the historic Laguna Mountain Lodge or the Blue Jay Lodge, both along Sunrise Highway about a 60 to 90 minute drive from downtown San Diego, depending on the season.

LAGUNA MOUNTAIN LIVING HISTORY THIS WEEKEND

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 23, 2018 (Mount Laguna) – The Laguna Mountain Volunteer Association invites you to the 31st annual Living History program this Saturday and Sunday, June 23 and 24.  Learn about the history of Mount Laguna residents and take free tours offered at 9:30, 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. both days.

SNOW BLANKETS MOUNTAIN TOWNS

 

 

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

February 27, 2018 (San Diego's East County) -- The National Weather Service forecasts that up to a foot and a half of snow could fall on Mount Laguna by tonight.  As of noon today, over five inches had been recorded at the peak. In Julian, over six inches have fallen.

"This storm is not like anything I’ve seen up here. Sun and snow are going back and forth…and nobody gets anywhere," says Bobbi Zane, who sent us the photos above.  "It’s been snowing all day, then the sun comes out and everything melts, then the snow stars coming down again. I had someone drive on my driveway so I can get my car out. By the time he finished, it had started snowing again. No using the car today!"

SNOW AT LOW ELEVATIONS FORECAST

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

February 25, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) – A cold front is forecast to bring snow down as low as 2,500 feet in East County on Monday and Tuesday, potentially dropping up to six inches on Mount Laguna as well as two to four inches in Julian.  

Smaller amounts of snow could fall on Ramona and communities east of Alpine along Interstate 8, such as Pine Valley, Japatul and Descanso, so check weather reports and carry chains if driving in the mountains during these winter weather conditions. Mountain areas along State Route 94 in the Potrero/Tecate divide area could also be impacted.

THE STARS HAVE LINED UP FOR PERFECT MOUNTAINTOP CAMPING CLOSE TO HOME IN SAN DIEGO

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Jack Riordan

Photo, left: The Desert View Trail at the Burnt Rancheria Campground is a very easy and dog-friendly one mile scenic loop through the campground to a rewarding view of the desert floor below.  Photo by Jack Riordan.

November 1, 2017 (Mount Laguna) -- Nestled in the pines, beneath a blanket of starlight, you’ll find Burnt Rancheria.  As part of the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area in the Cleveland National Forest, this lush east county campground sits at 6000 feet above sea level, offering dream-like mountain scenery, as well as an easy escape from the day to day life in the city.

WHITE CHRISTMAS: SNOW FORECAST DOWN TO 3,500 FEET

 

Sheriff warns of snow jams

Readers, send us your snow photos! editor@eastcountymagazine.org

East County News Service

December 22, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – A winter storm in the region is dropping heavy rain across our region, with snow forecast to dip down to 3,500 feet by Saturday. That includes Pine Valley, Descanso,  and Julian,  with  six inches or more possible atop Mt Laguna.

Strong winds of 60 miles per hour or more are expected in some mountain areas.

The Sheriff offers this advice if you plan to visit these areas:

STORMS SOAK REGION; HIGH WIND WARNING ISSUED

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  UCSD HP Wren camera on Mt. Laguna

November 27, 2016 (San Diego's East County) --The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning for our mountain and desert regions through tonight,with gusts up to 65 miles an hour possible.  If traveling watch for downed trees and power lines, blowing sand, rain-slicked highways and icy conditions in higher mountain areas.

Drought-parched mountain areas in East County have received welcome relief from a pair of storms that swooped into the region over the weekend.

As of 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, the National Weather Service reports over 2.4 inches of rain fell at Lake Cuyamaca, with nearly 1.7 inches at Julian. Snow has fallen on taller mountain peaks, including over an inch on Mount Laguna.

MORE SNOW MAY FALL ON MOUNT LAGUNA

 

East County News Service

Photo: Mt. Laguna on December 29, 2015, courtesy UCSD's HP WRen webcam

December 30, 2015 (Mt. Laguna)--Visitors flocked to Mount Laguna yesterday after a light snowfall left just enough for sledders to enjoy some winter fun.  A frost advisory is in effect for much of our region tonight through Thursday, with clear skies forecast for New Year’s Eve.

Though warmer weather this weekend is expected to melt away those patches of snow remaining, a new storm expected to hit Wednesday and Thursday of next week could bring more snow to the region, including Julian as well as Mt. Laguna—so keep those snow boots and sleds handy.

CONTAMINATED WATER ON MT. LAGUNA

 

 

County News Service

February 9, 2015 (Mount Laguna)--The County of San Diego, Department of Environmental Health (DEH) has issued a Boil Water Order and Public Notification for the Mount Laguna water system located on Sunrise Highway, Mt. Laguna, CA 91948 effective immediately.

PRECRIBED BURNING TO CONTINUE

 

Photo: Ceonothus (wild lilac) on Middle Peak in Cuyamaca

February 7, 2015 (San Diego's East County) - Cleveland National Forest is slated to continue prescribed burning from now through June of 2015, depending upon weather and fuel conditions. But at least one environmental organization has raised questions about impacts of the burns.

SNOW JAM!

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: courtesy 10 News

January 2, 2015 (Julian)--This week’s snowstorm transformed much of East County into a winter wonderland.

Nine inches of snow fell in Julian and a full foot blanketed the top of Mount Laguna, with several inches all the way down to Descanso, KNSJ’s home town.

The road to Julian has been ploughed and cleared for travel – but over this holiday weekend, that’s led to traffic jams as snow-loving San Diegans headed to the mountains.

HEAVENLY VIEWS: MT. LAGUNA OBSERVATORY GETS NEW TELESCOPE

 

November 29, 2014 (Mount Laguna)--There’s a brand new, $1.5 million telescope at the observatory atop Mount Laguna in East County.  Astronomers from San Diego State University, which operates the observatory, will now be able to see farther into the universe than in the past.

LAGUNA MOUNTAIN VOLUNTEER ASSOCIATION PRESENTS 27TH ANNUAL LIVING HISTORY PRESENTATION ON LABOR DAY WEEKEND

 

August 23, 2014 (Mount Laguna)--See the past come alive in this re-enactment of life in the Laguna mountains, going back in time to before the early 1900s. Visit with Native Americans, surveyors, turn-of-the-(last) century mountain men and rugged cowboys of the Campo Cattle Company. Meet the first Cleveland Forest Ranger on the Descanso District, and relive the travels of a 1908 pioneer family from Imperial Valley.

TRAINING TURNS TO REAL-LIFE RESCUE FOR SHERIFF'S VOLUNTEERS

 

August 18, 2014 (San Diego) - San Diego County Sheriff's Search and Rescue, or SAR volunteers got to test their newly acquired skills after a training session turned into a real-life rescue. The crew-in-training hoisted a pilot, who crashed his hang glider near Mount Laguna, back to safety.

BLM JEEP SPARKED THE CHARIOT FIRE, ATTORNEY FOR FIRE VICTIMS CLAIMS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Nadin Abbott

April 26, 2014 (Mount Laguna) – Cal Fire and the federal government have not released reports on the official cause of the Chariot Fire, which scorched over 7,000 acres and destroyed more than 100 buildings including  a historic lodge and the century-old Al Bahr Shrine Camp.  Now attorney John Fiske, who represents  fire victims, says he has filed a claim against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: DRY TIMES AT LAKE CUYAMACA AND MOUNT LAGUNA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery; photos by Tom Lemon

February 23, 2014 (Cuyamaca) – “The meadows should be green, Cuyamaca Lake full. Not so,” Tom Lemon writes after a trip to the mountain area.  “The area is tinder dry and the lake down six or eight feet.” 

Still, he found some interesting sights, as thees photos reveal.

DESCANSO RANGER DISTRICT BEGINS PRESCRIBED FIRE ACTIVITY IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY

 

November 9, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – The Descanso Ranger District of the Cleveland National Forest will conduct prescribed burning from November 2013 to May 2014, if weather and fuel moisture conditions permit.  The project will cover approximately 500-700 acres and will take place near the communities of Mount Laguna, Alpine, and Pine Valley.

The prescribed burns are for the purpose of assisting in providing community protection by slowing the spread of wildfires that occur under normal summer conditions as well as forest health.  Some drifting smoke may be visible during the period of burning along Sunrise Highway, Japatul Road, and Interstate 8.

TRAFFIC ADVISORIES: OTAY AND MOUNT LAGUNA

 

October 27, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – A Sig-Alert has been issued for a head-on crash at Highway 94 and Otay Lakes Road.  Incident Page Network reports a fatality.  CHP’s website indicates the head-on collision involved a white truck and a black sedan, with a third vehicle also involved.

A serious accident is also reported on Sunrise Highway at State Route 79.  According to the CHP website, one vehicle swerved to avoid another and rolled over. The vehicle is on its roof against support lines for a power pole.  At least one serious injury is reported and emergency responders are en route.

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: EXTREME STORM SHOTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 7, 2013 (Mount Laguna) -- Retired Fire Captain Greg Bishop sent us these photos taken during yesterday's extreme storms by the National Science Foundation’s HPWREN camera atop Mt. Laguna, a project of the University of California, San Diego. (http://hpwren.ucsd.edu)

DISASTER RELIEF FOR CHARIOT FIRE VICTIMS

 

July 24, 2013 (Mount Laguna) – County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk Ernest Dronenburg is advising all property owners whose property was damaged or destroyed during the recent Chariot Fire that property tax relief is available.

This tax relief program requires the reassessment of the property to reflect its damaged condition. The reduced value will remain in effect until such time as the property is rebuilt or repaired. More importantly, after the property is rebuilt or repaired, the owners can retain their previous taxable value if the property is rebuilt in a like or similar manner. This means that the property tax assessment will not increase beyond what it was prior to the fire.

CHARIOT FIRE RECOVERY RESOURCES AVAILABLE

 

 

The Chariot Fire perimeter, in red, and the evacuation area shown in purple

July 12, 2013 (San Diego’s East County)--Damage assessment teams are combing through the charred remains today of the Al Bahr Shrine Campground area off Sunrise Highway in Mt. Laguna.  CAL FIRE estimates 149 structures were damaged or destroyed when the Chariot Fire suddenly surged forward on Monday.  The fire is now 98% contained, after charring 7,055 acres.

The County encourages any residents who sustained losses in the Chariot Fire to visit www.sdcountyemergency.com for general recovery information. A Chariot Fire resources link is available here.

An important tip for residents returning to fire-damaged properties is to contact your insurance carrier before beginning clean-up efforts and consider using a professional contractor to avoid any potential hazards.

INTO THE ASHES: RESIDENTS RETURN TO MOUNT LAGUNA

 

By Nadin Abbott

July 11, 2013 (Mount Laguna) –Amid the devastation on Mount Laguna, one ironic symbol stands out: a flag flying at half-mast.  Flown to honor the Prescott Arizona Hot Shot crew that perished at the Yarnell fire, the flag at the Al Bahr Shrine Camp survived the Chariot blaze, while much of the camp was reduced to ashes.

As of 6 p.m. last night, Sunrise Highway was reopened at both old Highway 80 and Highway 79, though it remained shut down from Los Huecos Road  (milepost 24.5) in Mt  Laguna, to Kwaaymii Point ( milepost 30).  The fire has burned over 7,000 acres and is 70 percent contained.

First responders assess the damage

“It makes me very sad,” Lieutenant Rose Kurupas with the San Diego Sheriff’s office said of the devastation.  But she resolved, “These are good people, they’ll rebuild. You’ll see, it will be better than ever.”

CHARIOT FIRE 65% CONTAINED, SOME EVACUATIONS LIFTED

 

Photo by Kenneth Douglas

July 11, 2013 (Mount Laguna) -- Mandatory evacuations for all areas south of Los Huecos Road were lifted today as of 6:00 p.m., with the Chariot Fire now 65 percent contained.  Evacuation orders remain in effect on Los Huecos Road and North to Kwaaymii Point.

The wildfire has charred 7,055 acres, Cal Fire estimates, causing seven injuries.  Full containment is projected for  July 14.

CHARIOT FIRE JUMPS SUNRISE HIGHWAY, STRUCTURES AND CAMPS BURNED ON MT LAGUNA

 

 

 

Update July 8, 2013 -- 9 p.m.:  The fire, now 4,850 acres and 15% contained, has jumped across Surnise Highway. ECM has confirmation from multiple sources including an eyewitness report from our reporter Nadin Abbott at the scene that a structure has burned at Sierra Lodge and that Shrine Camp has also burned. 

Mt. Laguna is evacuated along the entire Sunrise Highway and an evacuation center, closed earlier, is now reopen at Joan McQueen Middle School, 2001 Tavern Road in Alpine. Dark smoke is billowing over the mountains at Descanso and Pine Valley; residents across these areas and Cuyamaca are advised to stay alert and informed. 

 

Story and photos by Nadin Abbott

July 7, 2013 (Mt Laguna)—Crews from all over Southern California, including Kern, Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego County are fighting the Chariot fire. This fire is now at 2500 acres and 20% contained.

Many of these hand crews include hot shot crews. According to Rosanne Grier, Cal Fire Public Information Officer trainee and Fire Fighter One, “There are no structure threats at this time. There was an old historical cabin, they had crews in place to try to protect; I don’t believe that it is still at threat at this point.”

SNOW BLANKETS LOCAL MOUNTAINS

 

By Miriam Raftery

February 9, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) ---Heavy snowfall has transformed our local mountains into winter wonderlands.  Mount Laguna received 10 inches of snowfall in the past 24 hours, followed by Palomar Mountain with 7 to 8 inches.  Cuyamaca also received significant snowfall, as this image sent in by reader Grace Schlesier shows. Frost and freezing temperatures are expected through Monday in inland valleys.

Other areas dusted in white include Julian (3-6 inches), Ranchita (5 inches), Santa  Ysabel (2 inches) and Pine Valley (2 inches) .  Snow even dipped down to Descanso and Campo, which received less than a half inch each.

PINE VALLEY SHERIFF'S SUBSTATION OPENS IN TEMPORARY LOCATION

 

January 27, 2013 (Pine Valley)--Beginning Friday, February 1, the Pine Valley Sheriff's Substation can be found at a new location as construction on a new substation gets underway. The temporary address of the substation is 28914 Old Highway 80 Suite 106, Pine Valley, CA 91962 with the same telephone number at (619) 473‐8774.

BOIL WATER ORDER ISSUED FOR MOUNT LAGUNA RECREATION AREA WATER SYSTEM FOUND CONTAMINATED


January 23, 2012 (Mount Laguna)--The County of San Diego, Department of Environmental Health (DEH) has issued a Boil Water Order and Public Notification for the Mount Laguna Recreation Area water system located on Sunrise Highway, Mt. Laguna, CA 91948 effective immediately.

The drinking water system has tested present for total coliform bacteria and absent for E.coli.

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