Every Palomar student has seen it, whether while driving to school or walking around campus: the ubiquitous P on the side of Owens Peak, located just east of the college.
With a round trip distance of two miles, the trail leading up to the peak is a great way for students to get some exercise in during a busy academic week.
The round trip is relatively easy, even for non-experienced hikers such as myself. To get to its western entrance from the school, take Comet Circle up to Borden Road where you’ll find the trailhead located right behind the street light. From there, the most straightforward trail will be the one to the left.
I’ve hiked this trail close to 15 times while a student at Palomar. The trail can take as little as 40 minutes if you choose not to stay at the peak for long. For those who like to sit and enjoy the view, however, there is ample seating close to the P itself, as well as further up the hill.
The sights from the mountain are spectacular, even at a relatively low level. You can see out west to the Pacific ocean, and appreciate the cozy suburbia layout of the houses in San Marcos in front of you.
If you have the extra three minutes to hike further up the summit you’ll be rewarded with a wonderful 360-degree view of the surrounding area and the sweet feeling of a cool, unbroken breeze.
As you hike, you’ll notice that there is little to no shade for you to use as a respite from the sun. That’s why it’s important to bring sunblock and plenty of water for your hike.
On a recent hike, I brought a floppy hat to wear, which provided great, encompassing protection from the sun. Wear suitable hiking gear like shorts and decent training shoes. The restricting denim of jeans on a hot day can get infuriating around step 12. The distance is short, albeit steep one at points, so remember that the more stuff you prepare for the hike, the more comfortable a break you’ll have once you reach the P.
When you’re finished and begin the descent, make sure to have secure footing with each step and look for firm rocks that will not give way when you put your weight on them. I’d advise even taking steps at an angle as a precautionary measure if you’d like to avoid what could be a very painful rock surfing session.
With the upcoming finals, it’s important to take time for your body and mind during your studies, and hiking up to the P is a great way to do it. Hiking and exercising should help to get the blood in your brain pumping and give your eyes a break from a laptop screen.