Spy distant mountains and look down on the desert floor from Foster Point in the Laguna Mountains.

Hike out to Foster Point in the Laguna Mountains for a great view of the desert floor from a mile-high elevation, and also for a chance to enjoy peace and solitude. Until fairly recently (due to vandalism), a direction finder constructed by the Sierra Club stood here, pointing the way to most of the notable peaks of Southern California. Nevertheless, the view is excellent -- especially an hour or two after sunrise or before sunset, when the low-angle sun casts sensual shadows across the rumpled near and far landscape.

Park opposite the entrance to Horse Heaven Group Camp at mile 25.7 on Sunrise Highway (2.5 miles north of the "village" of Mount Laguna). You'll need to post a National Forest Adventure Pass, available back in the village, on your car for the privilege of roadside parking.

Walk up the vague remnants of an old jeep road going east into a gently sloping forested area known as Flathead Flats. After about 0.2 mile, curve left (north) and you'll soon come upon the narrow but well-defined tread of the Pacific Crest Trail (remember this spot -- you'll be returning the same way). Continue north on the Pacific Crest Trail through oaks and pines another 0.2 mile.

At this point the forest cover abruptly ends, and dense chaparral begins. Walk 50 yards past the last of the small Jeffrey pine trees, and you'll find a little trail to the right, marked by a "Foster Point" sign. The narrow path goes about 100 yards through waist-high manzanita, ceanothus, and chamise to a rounded knob.

Monument Peak and its supporting ridgeline cuts off the distant view to the east and the south, but the panorama from north to northeast is excellent. The most distant and highest peak in view, San Gorgonio Mountain (11,500 feet elevation) in the San Bernardino Mountains, lies 85 miles north. If you know the way to Foster Point well, try coming up here on a moonlit night, when the desert below glows ghostly white. This weekend's waxing, three-quarters-lit moon high in the evening sky is perfect for this.

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