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Visited: June 11, 2015
Description: A short hike to a graffiti-covered narrow canyon with a climbing wall and a small cave
Length: 1 hour
Elevation: ~200 feet
Duration: 1.5 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Terrain: Dusty dirt trail
Parking: Street (33.007166, -117.251805)
Best time to go: Anytime
Bring: Camera, water, longer rope (just in case)
Located in San Elijo Lagoon is an amazing hidden gem – the Mushroom Cave. Once you park in the residential area (Santa Carina x Santa Queta), take the entrance at the dead end of Santa Carina and follow the trail down, staying left at all times. You’ll walk about .75 miles until you hit the entrance. Make sure you keep an eye out for an opening into the trees and a “No Trespassing” sign. It was a bit difficult trying to find it because the “No Trespassing” sign was sort of hidden. The only reason we were able to find the “entrance” was because we saw two other guys entering the shrubbery. We followed their steps and didn’t find a “no trespassing” sign but found some graffiti. Looked like the right way!
We reached the other side and found the guys we saw earlier. They started climbing up this narrow canyon and we followed them thinking they knew what they were doing.
The guys were struggling to get past this one part and once we caught up to them, they asked if the way they were going leads to Mushroom Cave………… Well, looks like it was a bunch of newbies searching for the cave. They continued on and we slowly followed behind.
When the guys made it to the top, it turned out we were going the wrong way… Good thing we took our time climbing up this narrow canyon! Back down we go.
Crawling and squeezing our way back through the canyon, we tried to see what other way could lead us to the dam Mushroom Cave.
We went back to the trail, retraced our footsteps a bit, walked farther down the trail a bit, went back to the opening to see if there was another path we missed, and then wondered where the hell the guys were… Why haven’t we seen them yet? We go back to the beginning of the narrow canyon and then SHHH… We heard voices. The voices were coming from behind these overgrown bushes and fallen trees.
WE FOUND IT! The trail was to the left of the narrow canyon, behind the shrubbery! We felt dumb…… We found the path that led us behind the trees and bushes and finally made it! WHAT. A. RELIEF.
We soon came across a wall with holes in it and there was a rope tied at the top. Without any hesitation, Linda quickly climbs the wall, shaking every now and then from fear.
Finally at the top, you can see Mushroom Cave from here and one of the guys who led us the wrong way.
The view of the other end of the canyon from the top.
Scaling back down was the worst part, especially for those with short legs… There wasn’t a step close enough for Linda to step onto and she was already at the tip of the rope. After a while of trying to figure out how to get down safely, Linda decided to just hang on the rope with one hand and quickly reach a next step down.
That idea caused her pinky to get scraped and a few bruises but she made it down! Next time, she’s bringing more rope to add length to the current rope!
On to the main reason we came… the Mushroom Cave! Going a little farther into the canyon, you’ll find a narrow section with a bunch of graffiti on it.
Follow it up and TA-DA! You’ve made it!
Now have a seat, enjoy your successful adventure and get yourself ready for the hike back up the hill to your car.
- Bring rope! Just in case you need extra to make it back down from climbing the wall.
- Don’t follow men who don’t know where they’re going. They’re lost.
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