Boucher Hill

Boucher Hill, the fire lookout with Palomar Mountain State Park, is perhaps one of the most “ridiculous” peaks that is included in the 100 Peaks list – you can drive right up there! In fact, I have been there a couple of times already in the past: when visiting the park and paying the entrance fee, it would be almost foolish to NOT drive up there to take in the views.

To “bag it” for my 100 peaks list efforts though, I decided to hike it properly. 🙂 I expanded a route that I had done before with both Shuwen and my friend Peter last year (in June: Forest Bathing at Palomar Mountain) to include this silly hill, into a very pleasant 6 mile hike that includes many of the “highlights” of Palomar Mountain:

  • in May, the Mountain Dogwoods in bloom along murmuring Chimney Creek
  • the meadow/forest edge of upper Duane Valley, and Duane Pond
  • aromatic blooms of Ceanothus along the Adams Trail
  • the expansive views from Boucher Hill and along the Silvercrest Trail

While May is the time to go to see the mesmerizing Mountain Dogwood bloom; in June you’ll see Western Azalea and Thimbleberry dotting the understory of the forest with large white flowers. The elevation and tree canopy of Palomar Mountain make it an excellent destination to escape the increasing heat in the lower regions of San Diego County as spring progresses into summer.

I’ve made my entire route public on GaiaGPS: Palomar Loop with Boucher Hill. I started late in the morning and hiked the loop counter-clockwise this time, because I was eager to see the dogwoods down at Chimney Creek first. In the early morning, going clockwise and starting at the Silvercrest Trail will be very rewarding as well.

On my hike, I mainly focused on the flowers and plants, so this is not a very photo-heavy post, but here are two documentary images:

Coming up on the rather secluded Adams/Boucher Trail from the west, I almost abruptly reached the “shock of civilization” at the Boucher Hill lookout tower. Because it was Mother’s Day, it wasn’t too busy, thankfully.

The fire lookout tower at Boucher Hill, Palomar Mountain, California. May 2019.
The fire lookout tower at Boucher Hill, Palomar Mountain, California. May 2019.

The tower is open to the public – only a small amount of people are allowed inside at any time, so it might be necessary to wait and take turns if you want to get the views from up there.

I skipped the tower this time since I’ve been there before with friends, and continued down from Boucher Hill through the “island” of open forest between the paved one-way loop road that leads up to and down from the tower.

High marine clouds began to push in and momentarily obscured the views, otherwise leaving a lot of haze in the air. On days with clear air, the views stretch all the way from Tijuana to Mount Baldy. I didn’t see any of that, but here is a hazy view of Rodriguez Mountain:

A hazy view of Rodriguez Mountain from Boucher Hill, Palomar Mountain, California. May 2019.
A hazy view of Rodriguez Mountain from Boucher Hill, Palomar Mountain, California. May 2019.

This is my personal blog, and I am a professional photographer. Please respect my copyright. If you would like to use any of these photos, for whatever purpose (commercial or personal), you MUST obtain a license and/or written permission from me. More information on my page about image usage. Thanks.

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