Palomar Mountain is one of the highest peaks in San Diego County, rising to 6,140 feet within sight of the Pacific Ocean. Its South Grade Road offers 4,700 feet of spectacular climbing over 13 miles. The upper section contains 21 switchbacks, making it a popular destination for both cyclists and motorcyclists.
According to the California Highway Patrol, there is an average of two motorcycle crashes on the South Grade Road any weekend the weather is nice. Of course, these are just the crashes that require medical assistance.
Did you know that the South Grade Road is listed as the 17th best climb in the U.S. in John Summerson’s The Complete Guide to Climbing (By Bike)?
The Queen Stage of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California has the pro peloton climbing Palomar at mile 43. What do you think it’s going to be like to be on the mountain? My personal record for climbing the South Grade is 1:26:37. I suppose the pros will easily beat an hour to the top.
Although I’ve never tried any, you can get a slice of pie at “Mother’s” near the summit. I hear they make good pie. After pie, you can head north to the Observatory for 3 miles of bonus climbing. Head back to Mothers then decide whether to take the South Grade back down or the longer, but less steep East Grade. Descending the South Grade is a blast, unless it’s cold. Then it’s just a nightmare of switchbacks, shivering, numb hands and muttered prayers.
Mark, Andy and I almost climbed Palomar this weekend. A plan was developed then unfortunately fell apart. We’ll get there soon.
I can’t wait.