One of the best views off of the Pacific Crest Trail in San Diego can be found easily by through-hikers and day-hikers alike in the Laguna Mountains at Foster Point. At 5,730 feet above sea level, this viewpoint along the Laguna Crest has sweeping three-hundred and sixty degree views year round of the Anza-Borrego Desert to the East, and the Cleveland National Forest to the North, South, and West. The only thing better than the views at Foster Point is the ability to identify everything that can be seen, thanks to a handy plaque that was installed by the Sierra Club. This plaque identifies seventeen nearby mountains, including the two highest peaks in Southern California, San Jacinto, and San Gorgonio.
Directions: Although Foster Point can be reached from a variety of ways, given that it is just off the Pacific Crest Trail, the easiest way to reach it is from the Horse Heaven Group Camp parking area, or the dirt-parking area that is across the Sunrise Highway from the Group Camp. Horse Heaven Group Camp is located thirteen miles north of the Interstate 8 on the Sunrise Highway. From the dirt parking area, the small foot trail winds slightly uphill for .4 miles, before intersecting with the larger, more well defined Pacific Crest Trail. From the trail junction, it is a .3 mile walk north to the well-signed Foster Point junction. The entire hike to Foster Point from Horse Heaven is 1.5 miles roundtrip over moderate terrain; and is accessible for all skill levels of hiking. Alternatively, hikers can approach Foster Point from the south on the Pacific Crest Trail, or can approach it on the Pacific Crest Trail from the North via the Penny Pines trailhead.
Tips: Although the area was forested prior to 2013, the Chariot fire burned most of the terrain in and around Foster Point in 2013. While much of the chaparral in the area has grown back, the forest has not returned as of 2015. While the area is not as a “raw” as it was immediately after the Chariot fire, remnants of the fire – such as burned portions of the forest remain. While this does not detract from the beauty of the hike – or the view at Foster Point, it does make the hike more exposed than it used to be. Having said that, this is a great hike year-round in San Diego with an excellent view.