San Diego Trails: Observatory Trail

San Diego Trails: Observatory Trail

Observatory Trail, hmmm, is it a trip to the stars? Well, almost. The wonderful Observatory Trail is on Palomar Mountain and rises above 5,000 feet, so you can certainly reach for the stars, but realistically you need to go in the day time, and in the summer time because it gets pretty chilly up there in the winter, in fact, take a jacket even on a hot summers days, the temperature drops by around 10 degrees when you get to the top.

So what can you expect to observe on the Observatory Trail? Trees for starters, the trail winds its way through some of the densest old forests bursting with old pine trees, cedar, fir and oak. There was a big fire in the area a few years back which destroyed around 1000 acres of woodland but that was mostly next door.

Observatory Trail

Now here’s the real reason it’s called the Observatory Trail, the “piece de resistance” if you like, is that at the end of the trail there really is an observatory, the Palomar Observatory, once home of the biggest telescope in the world, until they went and built a bigger one in Spain’s Canary Islands, there’s always some spoil sport isn’t there? Anyway, you can enjoy a wonderful hike (no bikes or horses please) of around 2.2 miles each way, then marvel at the telescope, and then hike back again. It’ll only take around 2 – 2.5 hours and it truly is a fantastic way to spend the afternoon.  During the summer time you can have an hour tour of the observatory (it’ll cost you about $8) so time your trip to arrive just in time if you can. The walk up there is a little uphill, but don’t worry, that just means it’s easier on the way back down doesn’t it?

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