Penny Pines to PCT to Pine Mountain Trail to Indian Creek Trail to Noble Canyon Trail to Penny Pines
(11 miles, +1,500/-1,500 feet).
Half Cookie and I are getting ready for an August trip to the Sierra and she has been struggling to find a pair of shoes that work for her on longer hikes. She recently decided to give my shoes a try (Altra Lone Peaks) so we got her a pair at REI and decided to take them for a spin today in our backyard, the Laguna Mountains.
I have done this loop before, but last time my buddies and I could not find the Pine Mountain trail and so we road walked and then bushwacked across Indian Creek. This time we found the trail, and it was much, much nicer!
Half Cookie and I started out at the Penny Pines trailead a little before sunrise and headed north on the PCT.
It was going to be a warm day, so we were happy to be on trail so early.
We were surprised by how many flowers were still in bloom. In an ordinary (dry) year they would be gone by now.
We gradually made our way to Pioneer Mail where we would cross over the Sunrise Highway.
They have put in a new sign at Pioneer Mail for the thru-hikers (yay!).
We took a steep shortcut up to the road and found the Pine Mountain Trail just ten feet from the road where we took a sharp right and followed below for a few hundred feet before traversing up to Pine Mountain.
Along the way we saw tons of spider web funnels and Half Cookie saw her very first tarantula in the wild!
There is a little spur from Champagne Pass at the junction with the Indian Creek Trail that gives a nice view of Cuyamaca State Park.
We returned to the Indian Creek Trail and made our way through more chaparral and meadows.
We crossed the (now dry) creek and headed uphill where we crossed with the Noble Canyon Trail. I was dreading this part of the hike because it was already about 80 degrees, but the sky suddenly filled with clouds and cooled things off for our climb.
The views to the north were very pretty compared to other years, with lots of flowers and green.
After about 5 hours we made it back to Penny Pines. Half Cookie’s shoes did great, but now we’ll have to see how they do in the Sierra!