If you could choose between a few days around 100 degrees and a few days in the low 80’s, which would you choose? We chose the low 80’s and enjoyed 3 nights at the Laguna campground located in the Cleveland National Forest. Just in case you don’t know where that is, it’s one hour east of San Diego, California in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. If you have an Adventure Pass, camping is half-price since it’s a National Forrest campground.
The campground is in the Laguna Mountains at an elevation of 6,000 ft. There are lots of pines and oaks with plenty of shade. There is a meadow adjacent to the campground that is a gateway to some great and easy hiking. The area is home to a wide variety of birds, as well as the endangered Laguna Skipper butterfly. We saw a number of butterflies that may or may not have included the Laguna Skipper but we aren’t sure. There was a placard near the meadow that talked about the butterfly and had a picture on it, but it was so faded by the sun that we couldn’t tell what the butterfly looked like exactly.
This July camping trip was the maiden voyage for two new Airstreams! Our friends, Carol and Phil, sold their 22’ Bambi and got a new, 2018, 25’ International Serenity and we traded in our 2014 28’ Flying Cloud for a new, 2018, 26U Flying Cloud. The main purpose for camping in Laguna, besides getting out of the heat, was a shake-down trip for the new trailers before our long eclipse adventure scheduled in August. We will discuss our new trailer purchase in a future post as there is a lot to talk about on that subject.
None of us had heard of this campground and we found it by just poking around on the Internet looking for a place not too far from home that was cooler and not packed. The reviews were very good and the weather forecast was a lot better than the one at home, so we thought we’d give it a try. At 6,000 feet, it’s much cooler in the summer than our Southern California home. Though one can camp there during the winter, camp showers are closed October through mid-May due to cold temperatures and some snow. The campground has five campsite loops. We stayed in the Meadow Loop, sites 14 and 15. These two sites had the best reviews so we were happy we could book them. Each campsite has a picnic table and campfire ring. There are very clean flush toilet restrooms in some loops and coin-operated (quarters only) showers. Our loop had a disgustingly dirty pit toilet, but since our trailer is self-contained, we didn’t care. The loop we were in looked to be the most heavily used and needed some maintenance. It’s obvious that some segments of the camping public are real pigs and have no respect for public property or other campers. Oh yes, there are no hookups or dump station in this campground so plan accordingly. Don’t let that discourage you though, this is a very nice place to camp and we will definitely return again. The view of the meadow with rows of Jeffrey Pine, Cedar and Oak trees afar was relaxing. Also soothing was the constant sound of a light wind through the tree branches.
Our first full day, we hiked to nearby Little Laguna Lake. It’s a short walk from the campground and a great place for photographs. Part of our hike to the lake took us through a swampy area that was really hopping, pardon the pun, with thousands and thousands of tiny frogs that were about the size of a cricket! They may have been full grown because we saw none that were bigger.
Really, they were all over the place and I’m sure we may have inadvertently sent some off to frog heaven as we walked through the brush. Every time our daughter picked one up for a picture, it would jump off of her hand before we could take the shot. They were so small and delicate that she was afraid to hold one for a picture. The lake itself was very picturesque and one could see herds of cows off in the distance. Cows are allowed to freely graze in the area and there are signs up that advise folks to watch out for them.
On our second full day, we all went to historic Julian, California. Julian is an old mining town that’s mostly a tourist spot now. Julian is now best known for apple pies more than anything else. The pies, with ice cream, are great and there are plenty of arts and craft stores to peruse if you are into that sort of thing. There is also an old gold mine, Eagle Mine, that you can tour. We did that on our last trip in the area, which you can read about it in our Anza Borrego post from April 21, 2017.
During the drive back to the campground, we stopped at a vista viewpoint just outside of the campground. From this spot one can see the Anza Borrego desert far below. We thought we could see the eastern half of Borrego Springs, where we like to camp when it’s not blazing hot, but we weren’t sure. The view, as you can see, is spectacular. This vista viewpoint is located right on a segment of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, which runs from California to the State of Washington. At this location, the trail is very narrow and rocky and way up on the mountainside. One slip and the party is over, if you know what I mean.
Later in the evening, we hiked to the El Prado Group Campground area, which is quite large and spread-out. No one was camping there so the place had a very peaceful feel to it. Along the way we passed the El Prado Cabin, which was the first ranger cabin built in the Cleveland National Forest in 1911.
This was the day Felicia and Alexandra saw a bobcat mix while walking our two dogs. They described it as being the right size for a bobcat (we’ve seen bobcats near our house) and having tufts hair on its ears. But, it had a long tail and dark brown fur like that of a house cat. Bobcats have been known to breed with feral house cats, so this might have been one of those. Unfortunately, they didn’t get a picture.
Great hikes, tasty food, wonderful scenery and good company made this a good camping trip. We will most certainly come back to Laguna Campground again. Oh yes, the night sky was great, so we’ll be bringing a telescope with us next time for viewing.
Here is a random picture slideshow of our trip:
Next stop: Rigby, Idaho for the great solar eclipse of 2017!