A beautiful walk along Big Laguna Trail.

Stepping from the Penny Pines parking area on Sunrise Highway to the Nobel Canyon trailhead.
Stepping from the Penny Pines parking area on Sunrise Highway to the Nobel Canyon trailhead.

This morning I went on a walk in the Laguna Mountains. The pine-covered Lagunas, about an hour’s drive east of downtown San Diego, reach just over 6000 feet in elevation.

After parking at the Penny Pines area on Sunrise Highway, I began west down the Noble Canyon Trail, then turned south onto Big Laguna Trail.

A morning walk in the mountains is so quiet and beautiful.

Come along with me! In these photos we’ll be heading a couple miles or so to Big Laguna Lake, a temporary body of water that appears in the winter and lingers until summer.

During my walk I saw many broken trees and stumps, victims over the years of bark beetles and periodic wildfires. At first the air was very chilly, but as the sun slowly rose its warmth felt good on my face. I heard plenty of birdsong, knocking woodpeckers, and the soft mountain breeze in branches. I smelled new green grass and the towering pine trees.

My eyes noted many signs of early spring.

Part of a posted Map of Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. Big Laguna Lake forms during rainy season in Laguna Meadow.
Part of a posted Map of Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. Big Laguna Lake forms during rainy season in Laguna Meadow.
Horses share the path with hikers and mountain bikers.
Horses sometimes share the trail with hikers and mountain bikers.
Many fallen tree limbs and trunks were along the trail. Victims of wildfires, beetles, and violent mountain storms.
Many fallen tree limbs and trunks were along the trail. Victims of wildfires, beetles, and violent mountain storms.
We've turned left onto Big Laguna Trail. Many of the hiking trails on Mount Laguna connect to the famous Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches from Mexico to Canada.
We’ve turned left onto Big Laguna Trail. Many of the hiking trails on Mount Laguna connect to the famous Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches from Mexico to Canada.
A swinging gate on the trail. Sometimes cattle are herded up in these mountains.
A swinging gate on the trail. Sometimes cattle are herded up in these mountains.
A beautiful early morning. The sun is still low and obscured by clouds and hills.
A beautiful early morning. The sun is still low and obscured by clouds and hills.
I saw a few small flowers along the trail scattered by spring's fingers.
I saw a few small flowers along the trail scattered by spring’s fingers.
Jumbled sawn trunks often appear like abstract works of art.
The jumbled broken trunks often appeared like abstract works of art.
Inner beauty exposed.
Inner beauty exposed.
Wild, delicate beauty.
Wild and delicate.

Moving forward.
Moving forward.
A tale of many seasons.
A tale of many seasons.
Winter's remnant.
Winter’s remnant.
Many elements.
Many elements.
About to enter the edge of Laguna Meadow.
I’m about to enter the edge of Laguna Meadow. Around here a small group of┬áRed-winged Blackbirds were jumping about tree branches and cheerfully talking to each other.

Some collected rain and snowmelt have formed a small green pond.
Some collected rain and snowmelt have formed a small green pond in the meadow.

I spy Big Laguna Lake ahead.
I spy Big Laguna Lake ahead.
Turning my camera to the right, looking backward a bit.
Turning my camera to the right, looking backward a bit.

A friendly mountain biker approaches.
A friendly mountain biker approaches.
Like a silver dream on the mountain.
Like a silver dream on the mountain.

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Beautiful photos of sunrise on Mount Laguna.

The sky turns red and yellow just before sunrise on Mount Laguna. Photo taken at the Storm Canyon Overlook on the Sunrise Highway.
The sky turns red and yellow just before sunrise on Mount Laguna. Photo taken at the Storm Canyon Overlook on the Sunrise Highway.

This morning I left downtown San Diego very early and drove an hour east to Mount Laguna. I wanted to see sunrise from a mountaintop.

I began taking photos from the Storm Canyon Overlook a bit north of the Laguna Mountain Lodge and Store. Breathtaking views of the desert below can be enjoyed at various points along the Sunrise Highway.

I then drove a short distance farther north to the Penny Pines Trailhead, parked, and hiked about a mile and a half northward along the Pacific Crest Trail. I didn’t go all the way to Garnet Peak, because the sun came to me!

Looking down toward a section of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park northeast of the beautiful Laguna Mountains, which rise to around 6000 feet in San Diego County.
Looking down toward a section of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park northeast of the beautiful Laguna Mountains, which rise to around 6000 feet in San Diego County.
Sign at the overlook explains Trails Through the Ages. Storm Canyon below was used by the Native American Kumeyaay for thousands of years for seasonal migrations.
Sign at the overlook explains Trails Through the Ages. Storm Canyon below was used by the Native American Kumeyaay for thousands of years for seasonal migrations. (Click photo to enlarge for easy reading.)
Trees west of the Storm Canyon Overlook are still a bit dark before sunrise.
Trees west of the Storm Canyon Overlook are still a bit dark before sunrise.
I've started toward the Pacific Crest Trail from the Penny Pines trailhead. The eastern sky is slowly brightening.
I’ve started hiking toward the Pacific Crest Trail from the Penny Pines Trailhead. The eastern sky is slowly brightening.
A chilly early November morning in the Cleveland National Forest near the top of Mount Laguna.
A slightly chilly early November morning in the Cleveland National Forest near the top of Mount Laguna.
I'm now heading north along the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. I'll go about a mile and a half toward Garnet Peak before turning around. Sunrise is imminent.
I’m now heading north along the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. I’ll go about a mile and a half toward Garnet Peak before turning around. Sunrise is imminent.
Many of the trees in the Penny Pines grove have died due to an ongoing bark beetle infestation. The recent drought caused many trees in the Cleveland National Forest to struggle, too.
Many of the trees in the Penny Pines grove have died due to an ongoing bark beetle infestation. The recent drought caused many trees in the Cleveland National Forest to struggle, too.
Looking roughly northeast as color creeps over the desert below.
Looking roughly northeast as color creeps over the desert contours below.
Miles of beauty, to the horizon.
Miles of beauty, to the horizon.
The trail here is still in shadow.
The trail here is still in shadow. Not for long…
Early sunlight touches a rocky rise.
Early sunlight touches a rocky rise.
That shiny strip in the distance is light reflecting from the inland Salton Sea.
That shiny strip in the distance is light reflecting from the inland Salton Sea.
The sun is about to clear a rocky desert mountain.
The sun is about to clear a rocky desert mountain.
The sun appears.
The sun appears.
Sudden morning light brightens vegetation near the trail.
Sudden morning light brightens vegetation beside the rough trail.
The sunshine is warm. I will soon have to remove my light jacket. Even though it is late November, the dry air from the desert is very pleasant.
The sunshine is warm. I will soon have to remove my light jacket. Even though it is late November, the dry air from the desert is very pleasant.
Slanting sunlight on small leaves.
Slanting sunlight on small leaves.
Looking down into a small canyon beneath the trail that descends toward the desert.
Looking down into a small canyon beneath the trail that descends toward the desert.
I'm rounding a corner, approaching a light-splashed peak.
I’m rounding a corner, approaching a light-splashed peak.
Garnet Peak, on the left, rises into the morning sunlight. A short trail leads to its summit from the Pacific Crest Trail.
Garnet Peak, on the left, rises into the morning sunlight. A short trail leads to its summit from the Pacific Crest Trail.
Light on one side of a boulder above me.
Light on one side of a boulder above me.
A beautiful view. I encountered nobody else on the trail this morning. Perhaps because today is Thanksgiving.
A beautiful view. I encountered nobody else on the trail this morning. Perhaps because today is Thanksgiving.
I am thankful that I saw this.
I am thankful that I could pause for a moment and enjoy this.
New light all around.
New light all around.
The smooth, dry contours of one part of Anza-Borrego State Park become more apparent. I believe the bulky mountain on the left is Whale Peak.
The dry contours of one section of Anza-Borrego State Park become more apparent. I believe the bulky mountain on the left is Whale Peak.
Looking east, shadows are retreating from mountain green.
Looking east, shadows are retreating from fresh mountain green.
Looking south, bright light on a broken boulder.
Looking south, bright light on a broken boulder.
Leaves feed on sunshine.
Leaves feed on sunshine.
I'm now headed back south toward the Penny Pines Trailhead. One last look north at Garnet Peak.
I’m now headed back south toward the Penny Pines Trailhead. One last look north at Garnet Peak in full daylight.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! Occasionally, when I get the itch, I travel to more distant parts of San Diego County. You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!