Summits: 1340

2012: September 8 » Lyons Peak

Lyons Peak, a remarkable peak from all sides, was removed from the San Diego peaks list some time ago due to a land dispute. The mountain is located in Jamul, and the most inviting way to hike Lyons Peak would be an impressive road that zigzags its way to the summit from the north, but the road crosses private property part way up the mountain and the landowner is rumored to be hostile to would-be hikers. In fact, I know someone who had rocks thrown at him as he descended from the summit, having made his way up without being noticed.

Recently, while a friend of mine was hiking nearby Mt. Lawson, he encountered some hikers that mentioned that they had asked the landowner for permission, and had hiked Lyons Peak without incident. With that information, I decided it was time to get up Lyons, one way or another…

Upon arriving to the base of Lyons Peak with friends Matt and Jose, I spoke to a friendly neighbor who reinforced rumors of a gun-toting man blocking the way. I spoke to a second neighbor who insinuated that if we could find this guy on a good day, permission may be given, though it would be unlikely that we would be able to find him without trespassing first. I was also told that the man in question was much friendlier up until he was arrested for wielding a gun about a decade ago, and that he denies access to SDG+E and rangers for the Cleveland National Forest. You see, the top of Lyons Peak still lies within the Cleveland National Forest, and the summit hosts a fire watch tower (no longer in use) and a few radio towers, now serviced only by helicopter.

While stashing one of our vehicles at the local store just a half mile down, an employee there further advised against confronting the man, and with that we decided to fall upon our backup plan, a brushy cross-country ascent from the south. We drove clockwise around the mountain, eventually ending up on a dirt road south of the peak, just under a mile and 1400 vertical feet from the summit.

The three of us started pushing upwards through light brush between two pieces of private land. The terrain got steeper and rockier as we got higher and some sections of brush were thicker than others, but nothing overly difficult, though our clothes covered in debris may have argued otherwise. We made the summit in a leisurely hour or so, where we basked in views stretching to the Pacific Ocean to the west and well into Mexico to the south, and some of San Diego’s other prominent mountains to the north and east. After we had our fill, a quick descent got us to pizza at lunchtime, a nice short day out to tag one of San Diego’s most striking and elusive peaks.