Palomar Guide

The Site

Colin Jemmott owns a beautiful 26 acre site near the top of Palomar mountain. The land is steep, relatively undisturbed, and covered in fir, oak, pine and cedar trees and wildflowers. Almost exactly a mile in elevation, with deer, foxes, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes and squirrels. On a clear night you can see the lights on the Coronado Bridge, almost fifty miles to the south.

You are probably reading this page because you are planning a visit. Yay! Please read through the first half of this page to assure a pleasant and safe visit.

Getting There

Palomar Mountain is about 90 minutes from downtown San Diego.

Click here for a Google Map to the gate. Coordinates 33.31329, -116.87112

The dirt access road is easy to miss. It is on the left, immediately before mile marker 47.4 and shortly after the 5000 foot elevation marker. If you reach the intersection with S7 / East Grade Road (stop sign) then you have gone approximately one half mile too far.

The entrance to the access road from South Grade Road is shown to the left. This picture is facing down the mountain (south southwest) so you will be approaching facing the opposite direction.

The first third of the access road is well graded and is passable by all vehicles unless there is snow. The second half is much more steep and the condition varies. Two wheel drive may make it depending on driver and vehicle, but ground clearance (SUV or truck) is highly recommended.

If your vehicle won't make it, there is limited parking for low-clearance vehicles. You and your stuff can get transferred to a truck, and shuttled in and out.

For group events it is best to caravan or carpool up, but you can also call from the gate and someone will come let you in.


There is a very small cabin, an outhouse, a picnic table, and a fire pit, but no power and no water. There are basic supplies like plates, a bed, desk, couches, etc. It is best to bring everything you need!

Some suggestions for things to bring include water, food, warm clothes, sunscreen, bug spray. Things not to bring include shitty people, and firewood (there is loads up there). Please ask before bringing dogs, firearms, or children.

Some cell phones do work at the camping site (Verizon and AT&T seem ok, Virgin is iffy and Sprint is a no), but reception can be spotty elsewhere on the mountain. The one trouble spot to be aware of is at the gate - you may need to drive up South Grade about 1/2 mile to get service.

Never leave food, food scraps or water in or around the cabin, as it attracts rodents. Please lock all doors and windows when leaving. If anything is needs repair, please let me (Colin) know.


The property is at one mile elevation, and weather on the mountain is often very different than it in San Diego. It snows. Especially in the spring and fall the weather can be highly variable. This site seems to have the most accurate predictions:

Bugs can be intense in the summer.

Other Notes

  • Palomar mountain loves to burn. In 1988 wildfires claimed the original cabin. The trailer that replaced it burnt in the 2007 fires (pictured wreckage). There is a fire pit, but please be extremely careful with fires! Much of the year having a wood fire is illegal.

  • There is lots of poison oak. Quite a bit on the rocks to the east of the cabin (2012). Learn to recognize it and don't touch it.

  • Most of the neighbors are great! Give a friendly wave and tell them you are with the Jemmott family.

  • Coming in to the cabin you will cross Burt's property. He lives on the mountain full time and is retired from the San Diego Police Department.

  • Downshift going down the mountain to avoid overheating your brakes.

  • Do not move firewood on or off the mountain. There is an invasive oak beetle that is killing all the big trees.

You have finished the mandatory reading!

Property Layout

You can view a map of the property here: and on the left.

The red line is the dirt access road, and the gate off of South Grade Road is shown as a purple line. The green tent is the camping area and the blue lines are the approximate boundaries of the property.

The yellow square marks the best parking area for cars that can’t make the last part of the trip in. The red square used to be used for parking, but is not recommended anymore.

The access road forks a few times - generally stay to the right, but sometimes straight.

Nearby Attractions

The Palomar observatory is five miles from the cabin, and is home to the 200 inch Hale telescope, the world's largest from 1949 to 1992. It is still operational and tour information is here:

Mother’s Kitchen is at the intersection of South Grade Road / County Highway S6 and East Grade Road / County Highway S7 (under a mile from the property), and is a pretty ok vegetarian restaurant. There is also a general store there. I am told that there is a new restaurant on East Grade Road, but I haven't been.

Nate Harrison Grade (alternative way down the mountain) is a fun alternative way up the mountain if you want some mild off-roading. That route takes you through the state park, which is also worth a visit. You don't need to purchase a pass to the park if you are just driving through, but it is worth it to visit Boucher Hill Lookout.

Lots of links about Palomar here:

What Can You See From Up There?

Cabin Build Photos