Manza Benchmark in San Diego’s Laguna Mountains is peak number 67 on the Sierra Club’s 100 Peaks list. We had a cool and partially overcast day, just right to hike it at the end of June. Steel gray clouds hung in the sky and a pleasant wind made for very comfortable conditions.
The starting point for this hike is the “Meadows” trailhead along Sunrise Highway. From there, one follows the Sunset Trail in a northbound direction for about 1 mile (1.6 km), where a use-trail that may not be too easy to pick up at first leads down into ravine (that also is the upper end of Crouch Valley north of Sunrise Highway).
The trail then climbs up on the other side, first west and then north through chaparral, to the summit block of Manza Benchmark – a bunch of huge gray rocks amidst shrubs, with a Corps of Engineers survey mark and a summit register.
Along the trail, I found very nice wildflower displays that are typical for this time of the year: Scarlet Larkspur (Delphinium cardinale), Mountain Bluecurls (Trichostema parishii), and Southern Jewelflower (Strepthanthus campestris). It all was dominated by an incredible bloom of Chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) though, which gave spots, patches small and large or entire hillsides its significant buttery white/yellow or very light green color. Quite a sight!
From the summit, one has nice views into every direction – they’re best to the south, west and north, over more or less sparsely vegetated hills with shrubs, and ravines with the darker green of taller trees. To the east, the views extend across the forested areas of the Laguna Mountains to the Pacific Crest, with Monument Peak and Stevenson Peak in the distance.
Here are some impressions:
This article was added to the site in May 2020 and dated back to the day when I hiked this peak.
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