Palm Springs to San Diego on the Pines to Palms Highway (150 Miles)




We’ve been having pretty unseasonably cold weather this time so it was another slow morning getting on the road. Breakfast was a short trip over to Elmer’s. Elmer’s could be described as “not bad in a pinch”. The food was ok, and definitely a few steps below Rick’s in both quality and presentation. I did like that they had lighter fare options. Often in breakfast restaurants you get so much food: a 3 egg omelette, hash browns, toast and a biscuit. That’s about 1500 calories there. I just couldn’t spend 75% of my calorie budget before 10am. Elmer’s had a two egg omelette with a side of fruit that was right about my usual with a splurge on the hash browns.

In the desert things heat up quickly so the 35 degree morning was nearing 60 as I took off just before noon. Today was the only day to really ride some good twisties so I wasn’t going to take the freeway. Tony had suggested CA-74 which is known as the Pines to Palms highway. It was the logical choice looking at the map so I took him up on his advice. The main road out of town had a zillion lights on it but they were all timed on the speed limit so you hit very few of them if you obeyed the law. Why more localities don’t do this I don’t know. Good job Palm Springs.

The climb up to the top of the hill was awesome. There were tons of twisties that were well packed in and easy to navigate. The tar snake factor was a bit high though. I could see that it would be a more challenging ride in the summer as they do get slick. About halfway to the top, you have a great view of the city and road below.


There is a nice pull out to take a break and soak in the view. My chain had been neglected so it also was a nice place whip out the chain lube and WD40. Once the chain was happy again it was time to finish the twisties and start the decent. Once at the top what seemed like 30 or more cars were stuck behind one driver who would not pull over. As fate would have it he was going the same way I was. There were too many cars to make passing really all that effective so it was a slow plod down to Anza. Anza sits at about 4,000 feet so what heat there was in the valley was now gone. I met up with a local rider who had some good ideas about how to extend the twisty parts so I was excited.

Once CA-371 t-boned into CA-79 most of the traffic headed for the freeway. I went the other way. YAY! CA-79 was mostly gentle sweepers and fun riding. I didn’t know if I should stay on 79 or turn right at 76. There were so many places on the signs that I had read over and over about (Palomar Mountain, Julian, Anza-Borrego). Oh where to go?! I came upon a group of bikes heading the same way I was so I figured I’d follow them. They took the right onto CA-76 so I followed. It was a fun ride and the pavement was great. The turnoff to Mount Palomar was cloaked in fog and clouds so I decided to pass given that time was somewhat of the essence and I figured the view would not be that great.

After passing Palomar, the road turned into a suburban artery with lights and much uninterestingness until hitting I-15. It appears that Caltrans had totally redone this stretch of freeway as the pavement was as smooth as glass. The traffic was flying on the highway. It was fun.

I got into town near 4 pm and called it a day on the bike.

I’d not really seen much of San Diego so David offered to play tour guide for a bit. I was grateful as I don’t get down this way all that much. Downtown was destination for the evening so we started at the harbor. San Diego is further east than San Francisco so I was surprised how early the sun was down here. We caught the last bit of sun for the day:


Much like San Francisco, many of the street vendors had interesting exhibits. The silver man was there. One of the vendors had these rocks that were supposedly balancing on each other. How he did that I don’t really know, but I couldn’t see any rods running in between the joints of the rocks.

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San Diego skyline from Coronado Island:


A big fish I thought was cool:

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The Star of India:

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The cruise ship that got stuck out in the ocean and needed to get towed back in. It was so peaceful in the harbor at night.

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