Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Glamping at La Jolla Valley Trail Camp

Sunrise in the La Jolla Valley
Just a quick report out of the Santa Monica Mountains.  A friend and I recently spent the night at the La Jolla Valley walk-in campsites located in Pt. Mugu State Park. To reach the camp, we would typically take the La Jolla Canyon Trail which begins in the parking area near the beach just across PCH from Thornhill-Broome State Beach. But ironically, that trail is currently closed because in these days-of-drought, it was completely washed away during a storm last winter. So instead of taking the direct route through La Jolla Canyon, we were forced to take the alternate route which ascends the Ray Miller Trail to its junction with the Overlook Fire Road coming out of Sycamore Canyon, traverses Overlook to its junction with the Guadalasca Trail at the top of Hell Hill, and then drops you into the La Jolla Valley on the well trod fire road. It's ok. We had nothing but time on our hands, and the views of the azure Pacific from the Ray Miller Trail were more than worth the price of admission. Coming in by way of the Chumash Trail to the west is a shorter and more direct route (and considerably steeper), but I don’t believe you can leave a car overnight at that trailhead.

The La Jolla Valley walk in campsite burned in the Springs Fire in 2013. The area has not fully recovered from that event and won’t for some time, but re-growth of the vegetation has occurred. Additionally, the park service has added brand new food boxes to the picnic tables at each site so you can keep your edibles and other aromatics beyond the eyes and hungry reach of the local varmints during the night. Super deluxe if I don’t say so myself.

One of Many Campsites

Food Box Hanging from the Picnic Table Hidden Behind the Blue Pack
The night we were there, the moon was full and bright, the sky brilliantly clear. We sat at the picnic table solving the world’s problems, enjoying an adult beverage, and listening to our boisterous coyote neighbors who apparently were doing the same thing. Later, as the moon began to make its way across the sky and our eyelids became increasingly heavy, all became incredibly still as we entered our tents for the night. At first light, we jump out of bed, made some cowboy coffee, packed up, and headed out.

First Light at La Jolla Trail Camp

Morning Sun Creeping Across the La Jolla Valley

Sunrise as it Crests the Eastern Ridgeline

Looking West Along the Road Through the Valley
La Jolla Valley is a super nice, easy to reach spot to get some solitude in the midst of the greater Los Angeles concrete jungle. The La Jolla Valley campsites are available on a first-come, first served basis, but I have never had a problem getting a site. In fact, on most of my trips to La Jolla (this one included), I have been the only one camped there, even on warm summer weekends. As an additional, added bonus, there is a fairly clean pit toilet in a concrete enclosure at the site. The night we were there, the facilities were adequately stocked with all the necessities if you catch my drift. There is a $10/night fee to camp at La Jolla Valley which you pay at a self-serve terminal located in the parking lot at the Ray Miller trailhead. 

Now get out there and experience the local mountains.

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