Today's hike will be through the boulders and hills of McCain Valley, with a possible overview of Carrizo gorge.
The McCain Valley Resource Conservation Area encompasses 38,692 acres of the In-Ko-Pah Mountains, one of Southern California's coastal mountain ranges. Although the In-Ko-Pah Mountains contain few dramatic peaks, this broad rolling upland area is strewn with numerous large granite rock formations which tower above the chaparral-covered landscape.
The area between County Highway S-2 in the south end of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the BLM's McCain Valley Cooperative Management Area constitutes some of the most wild, beautiful and serene territory in San Diego County. Here, the Tierra Blanca and In-Ko-Pah mountains serve as a bridge between the hot sands of the low desert and a vast stretch of chaparral-dotted tableland southwest of the Laguna Mountains.
To approach the area, there's McCain Valley road, a well-graded dirt road that runs some 14 miles north and west from Old Highway 80 near the town of Boulevard. (To reach it, leave Interstate 8 at the Highway 94/Boulevard exit, go 0.5 mile south, then go 1.9 miles east on Old Highway 80.) This road is the only public access into the McCain Valley area, which is managed for multiple uses by the BLM. The east margins of the McCain Valley Cooperative Management Area are essentially hikers' domain. No parking fee is required on BLM land.
For a general map of the area, refer to Shad's book, "Afoot and Afield in San Diego County", p. 327, Area D-11:Bow Willow/In-Ko-Pah Mountains.
We'll meet at 9 am today at our Hillcrest rendezvous and carpool out to Boulevard and up the McCain Valley Road to our hike destination. To view photos from our 2005 hike to this area, click HERE.
Directions: Take Interstate 8 east to the Boulevard exit. It is the next exit after you pass the Golden Acorn Casino. From the offramp turn right, go for a short distance and then turn left onto Old Highway 80. Go to the Wisteria Candy Cottage, just down the road on the right (there's plenty of parking along the road). We will meet at the Wisteria Candy Cottage, and caravan from there to the hike location. (By the way, they sell excellent chocolate at the Cottage and ship it worldwide. Check out the truffles!!)