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Paragliding Blossom Valley, CA

Paragliding Blossom Valley, CA

best Conditions

Wind Dir. : NW WNW W WSW SW
Wind: Mini: 0| Maxi 25 mph Gust Max : 18 mph

Description

H 460 m, HD 314 m
rating 4/6
frequently used, thermalling, xc possible.
no official landing zone.
Direct link to www.xcontest.org flights
Region: California - USASee flights near this point [ 647 ]Site record : 119.6 kmLink to more information : -
Region: - USASee flights near this point [ 3 ]Site record : 33.8 kmLink to more information : -
Region: California - USASee flights near this point [ 1085 ]Site record : 140.2 kmLink to more information : -
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https://www.wilderadventures.com/launch/779/blossom-valley-el-cajon (xc info)
https://holfuy.com/en/weather/1129
https://www.sdhgpa.com/blossom-valley.html
Blossom is NOT an SDHGPA primary recommended site. That doesn't mean many members don't fly it, or that you can't, but there are significant restrictions both legal & skill-related regarding this site. Please read this guide fully!
Blossom Valley (or simply "Blossom") is a paradox. It's one of the most reliable mountain flying sites in San Diego and where many excellent pilots have learned to fly XC, including Nick Greece, former editor of the the USHPA Pilot. Nick talks about his Blossom experience on the Cloudbase Mayhem podcast, here.
Blossom is also place of multiple accidents, ranging from twisted ankles to traumatic brain injuries to broken backs to fatalities.
Finally, Blossom is a site where we don't have explicit permission from the landowners to launch or land. There are also past LZ locations that pilots have been explicitly told not to use.
Keep reading in order to deepen your understanding of this beautiful enigma.
​For experienced pilots, Blossom is flyable most days of the year. From long summer glass-off sessions to punchy spring XC flights to weak winter laps to the Cap, Blossom consistently delivers. It is a frequently flown site by a regular crew of local experienced pilots. However, due to the landing situation (top land only) and the number of accidents that have occurred, it is a site requiring P4 skills to safely fly.
Turbulent at peak heating, it has the highest accident rate of all San Diego mountain sites.​ This is in part due to the number of pilots who fly there (any given day will see 5-15 free flight pilots in the air), and in part because of a few site features that are deceptively dangerous.
The rowdy house thermal Thumper, getting low behind Amen Ridge, committing to the El Cap crossing too low, and many power lines in the valley are a few of these hazards.
Top landing or side hill landing skills are required as there are no LZs where the landowners have granted permission to use down in the valley.
​This launch site has been posted as "NO TRESPASSING" by the landowner. The landowner has not given pilots explicit permission to fly at this site. ​ Flight activities at this site are not specifically permitted by any public or private agency. The Blossom launch is on private property. For many years, launching PG and HG as well as RC planes has not been prosecuted. However, this does NOT mean you are not trespassing on private property when you launch here without permission.
With all that said, Blossom is flown by the local crew pretty much every flyable day of the year. If local pilots are not flying, there is probably a reason! ​
If you want to check out this rough nugget of American paragliding, connect with local pilots, read about the local weather stations, and get a full site brief on site from an experienced local pilot.
While it is flyable year round, winter tends to be fairly slow and pilots may have better luck at Horse Canyon, Little Black or Palomar Mountain.
Primarily a site flying area, Blossom has a few XC opportunities, including the famous run to El Cap across the valley. See the XC route options below.
General Information:
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Any and all use / access is considered trespassing by the landowners. This includes both launches, the hairpin and the dirt road leading to it, and the old BMX track at the foot of the hill.
Current USHPA required. SDHGPA membership recommended to support the amount of work club members put in to protect this site to the best of our ability. Please don't bandit this just because you technically can.
​There are currently no sanctioned LZs open in the valley.
Rating: H4 / P4 - M2 Recommended: Top landing required. It is unusual for HGs to top land.
If locals are not flying, there is probably a reason! Visiting and low air time P3 pilots should be supervised. Always fly with other more experienced local pilots present. If local pilots are flying, it does not mean the conditions are suitable for you.
Best conditions: 7-12 mph WNW at this station: Blossom Valley real time data (note: this station underreports to actual conditions on launch)
Best time(s) of day to fly: Early evening in summer; during the afternoon after peak heating during the rest of year
Most flyable season(s): Spring through fall. Summer can be extremely turbulent at peak heating!
Site Representative: Nik Hawks 619-246-3868. Call or text with any questions. I usually don't answer unknown callers, so text first for reliable responses. :)
Upper (Main) launch altitude: 1500 feet
Lower (Bailout) launch altitude: 1300 feet
Valley altitude: 600 feet (NOT a landing zone, just for reference)
Launch access: Hike up or high clearance 4 wheel drive plus driving skills. Hiking record from the curb with a pack to the boulders on launch is 6:54.
Use Google Earth to check out the local air spaces. Wildcat Canyon ridge line starting at the rock piles is under 3.8k Air Space ceiling --> SkyVector Link ​
Site Protocol:
USHPA membership is required to fly and top land.
Top landing or side hill landing is required.
Do not fly Blossom without a full briefing by a knowledgeable local
Visiting pilots should not fly Blossom without a knowledgeable local present
No vehicles allowed below the Bail-out along the south spine toward the Closed LZ.
Be wary of high tension power lines running through Blossom Valley, particularly near the base of El Cap
Be courteous to the RC pilots who also enjoy this launch
All flights from SDHGPA Blossom Launches and LZs must be non motorized "Free Flight"​​
Top land or side hill land in green zone
Note 3.8k air space ceiling Starting at Rockpile (Silverdome on Google Earth) and extending almost to valley floor edge.
Not a recommended student site due to hazards & no LZ options.
Getting to Launch:
10954 Quail Canyon Rd, El Cajon, CA 92021 Please check out this Google Map before going, as where you park and hike up will make far more sense with a visual reference.
Park on the south side of Quail Canyon Road, making sure you don't park within 15' of the fire hydrant. Sheesh, you'd think we wouldn't have to include that.
Hike up the obvious trails on the north side of the road. Stay left when the trail splits, descend down into a gully and then make a steep climb up to the bailout on any of the 3 dirt road options. Continue on up to the launch from the bailout by taking the obvious dirt road.
The launches are situated off of a steep, rutted fire-road that lies on private property. A 4 wheel drive vehicle with high clearance can make the drive to launch. The hike up should take you less than 20 minutes (the record with glider is 6:54).
Launching
Launching can be done from either the bailout or the main, upper launch area. The upper area is more reliable and offers the option of landing at the bailout where a short hike will bring you back up. If you miss the cycle after launching from the bailout, it is still possible to side hill but is very tricky and not recommended.
Do NOT get suckered into launching at the bailout just because the locals are doing it. It is very easy to sink out and then you have no legal landing options, putting the site at risk. Hike to the top, watch for a while, and enjoy the view.
Both launches (bailout and main) are only suitable for one glider at a time. However, there is ample space for a few gliders to lay out for line checks to the side.
Soaring
There are two reliable house thermals. The first, and less rowdy, is straight off the main launch and releases from a small knob 200 yard out over the valley. The second is known as Thumper and is to the right (North) of launch. Thumper is a turbulent leeside thermal that is highly unpredictable and not to be taken lightly.
DO NOT scratch below launch height to the north of launch. It can be turbulent and you will enter the lee side of Thumper. Flying low near Thumper has caused several accidents. It is a much better option to land at the bail out and walk back up. Turbulence and rotor hazards off spines in the Thumper Bowl increase with any south component in the wind.
Getting to Launch:
10954 Quail Canyon Rd, El Cajon, CA 92021 Please check out this Google Map before going, as where you park and hike up will make far more sense with a visual reference.
Park on the south side of Quail Canyon Road, making sure you don't park within 15' of the fire hydrant. Sheesh, you'd think we wouldn't have to include that.
Hike up the obvious trails on the north side of the road. Stay left when the trail splits, descend down into a gully and then make a steep climb up to the bailout on any of the 3 dirt road options. Continue on up to the launch from the bailout by taking the obvious dirt road.
The launches are situated off of a steep, rutted fire-road that lies on private property. A 4 wheel drive vehicle with high clearance can make the drive to launch. The hike up should take you less than 20 minutes (the record with glider is 6:54).
Launching can be done from either the bailout or the main, upper launch area. The upper area is more reliable and offers the option of landing at the bailout where a short hike will bring you back up. If you miss the cycle after launching from the bailout, it is still possible to side hill but is very tricky and not recommended.
Do NOT get suckered into launching at the bailout just because the locals are doing it. It is very easy to sink out and then you have no legal landing options, putting the site at risk. Hike to the top, watch for a while, and enjoy the view.
Both launches (bailout and main) are only suitable for one glider at a time. However, there is ample space for a few gliders to lay out for line checks to the side.
Soaring
There are two reliable house thermals. The first, and less rowdy, is straight off the main launch and releases from a small knob 200 yard out over the valley. The second is known as Thumper and is to the right (North) of launch. Thumper is a turbulent leeside thermal that is highly unpredictable and not to be taken lightly.
DO NOT scratch below launch height to the north of launch. It can be turbulent and you will enter the lee side of Thumper. Flying low near Thumper has caused several accidents. It is a much better option to land at the bail out and walk back up. Turbulence and rotor hazards off spines in the Thumper Bowl increase with any south component in the wind.
Landing
Top land at Launch:
Most local pilots top land this site.
Requires solid P3 skills or solid H4 skills .
Hazards: Large rocks between carpeted area and launching area. It can be thermic. Watch for parked cars.
Top land at Bailout
Just south and 200ft below the main launch
No vehicles allowed below the bailout along the south spine toward the LZ. Those sinking out below bail-out must hike back up.
Not used by HG
Hazards: Can be thermic​ and EASILY overflown, forcing a potential landing in the valley which should NOT be your plan. Setting up too deep is extremely hazardous due to rotor and other hazards.
​-DO NOT LAND at the old "Race Track" main LZ property. This includes the hairpin bail-out.
-DO NOT LAND at El Monte PARK (See LZ overview images )
-DO NOT LAND on prior Helix Water Dept property (the old riverbed LZs)
For any landings at the explicitly stated properties above (race track, hairpin, El Monte Park, Helix Water Dept) expect that the sheriff will be called & trespassing violations enforced.
https://www.sdhgpa.com/minutes-news--articles/weather-station-on-el-cap
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Take off : Hike up (10 to 15 minutes) or 4X4 drive up off Quail Canyon Road, east of Tombstone.
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N032° 52' 35.70"   W116° 50' 54.47"© paraglidingspots.com · last update 1/2023Feedback / Correction
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