Rustic Palomar Mountain

By R. Stickney
|  Wednesday, Aug 11, 2010  |  Updated 11:30 AM PDT
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Rustic Palomar Mountain

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Your job: Decide to get out of town and fast. Our job: Help you find where you're headed. This week, Worth the Drive takes us to...

Ride the Grade: For cyclists in Southern California, the climb to the top of Palomar Mountain Road is one of the best climbs in the region. It’s often compared to Alpe d’Huez, probably the most famous climb in cycling. It’s tough enough to handle the best. Lance and his buddies faced the South Grade as part of Stage 8 on the 2009 Amgen Tour of California.

Star Gazing: Three hours from LA, two from San Diego, the 200-inch Hale Telescope is still in use on every clear night of the year. You can see the telescope in person at the Palomar Observatory daily (363 days a year) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Check the events page for nights when they actually let you look through the lens. Also, be sure to ask how they got the telescope up the mountain dirt roads in the first place.

Bailey Mountain Resort:Owned and operated by the same family for 120 years, the Bailey House offers the rustic mountain stay once accessible only by wagon to travelers of the backcountry. There are rooms available in the main house or you can book a guest cabin for a quiet weekend in the woods.

Cabin price: $150/night (760) 742-1859

Sunday Ride: The steep, twisting turns also lure motorcycle clubs and sports bikes for group rides up the mountain. Make a side trip to the Palomar Mountain State Park. The is an entry charge of $2 per bike but it is well worth the price. You can follow a road down to Doane's pond which has numerous hiking trails. Another single lane road will take you high on the mountain, past numerous antennas, for a breath taking view.

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