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Learn more about Harrison Serenity Ranch.



Mike B. of San Diego, CA


Harrison Serenity Ranch  is a 67 acre working ranch located 55 miles North of San Diego surrounded by the Cleveland National Forrest.


HSR is a self-sustaining facility with a well, solar power and internet access.


It provides a safe and serene environment.


The location of HSR is away from any civilization and amidst the picturesque mountains – 3,000 feet above sea level with “forever” views.

18187 Nate Harrison Grade, Palomar Mountain Road, Palomar, CA 92060


Nate Harrison


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Nate Harrison is one of San Diego County’s legendary pioneers. Fables abound regarding this former enslaved African-American from the South who lived high upon the west slope of Palomar Mountain into the early 1900s. There are numerous quaint tales of his frontier life. For example, this rugged yet compassionate mountain man allegedly added lizards to his coffee grinds for extra flavor, made batches of homemade mountain lion jerky, and met every visitor with a warm smile.


Many historical photos add to his legend. Over two dozen stunning turn-of-the-century black-and-white photographs of Harrison exist. He is shown in various poses; sitting at his cabin, engaging with white traveler-tourists, and walking his dogs. Harrison may be the most frequently photographed 19th-century San Diegan. It was as if he was San Diego’s version of the Eiffel Tower; tourists frequently took his picture to prove that they had visited the precipitous mountain and made it to the top.


Historical archaeology has the potential to evaluate, scrutinize, broaden, and deepen insights into Nate Harrison’s life and legend. This report presents findings from the inaugural 2004 San Diego State University field excavation season at the Nate Harrison site. The three-week field school successfully located the remains of Harrison’s cabin and uncovered over 6,100 artifacts that date to Harrison’s late 19th-century and early 20th-century occupation at Palomar Mountain. Although there had been previous pot-hunting on the site, the 2004 excavations marked the first scientific archaeology on the property.


The property is privately owned, and the owners not only allowed excavations on their property, they went out of their way to make the field school a resounding success. They gave the archaeological team unlimited access to their campsite, latrine, generator, and tractor. In addition, their interest in local history and care for the site over the years has been nothing short of inspirational.


The property is about two-thirds of the way up the west slope of Palomar Mountain. It is off of Nate Harrison Grade, northeast of Pauma Valley. USGS aerial photographs and topographic maps offer an overview of the region. The site location is not specified here for confidentiality and security reasons established by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and maintained by the South Coastal Information Center (SCIC).


The beautiful forest and mountain meadows of Palomar Mountain State Park are in northern San Diego County on the west side of Palomar Mountain. Large pine, fir and cedar trees make the park one of the few areas in southern California with a Sierra Nevada-like atmosphere. The park features camping, picnicking, hiking, and fishing (trout) in Doane Pond. Coniferous forests cover much of the 1,862 acres, in contrast to the dry lowlands surrounding the mountain.


Elevation within the park averages 5,000 feet above sea level, making evenings cool even during the summer. A number of vista points offer spectacular panoramic views both westerly toward the ocean and inland toward the desert, particularly from Boucher Hill Summit. There, you'll also find the historic Boucher Hill Fire Lookout.


The park is open from dawn 'til dusk daily. However, call or check the banner at the top of this page for possible changes due to budget cuts.

From Highway 76, either of two roads can be used to reach the park. The one from Rincon Springs (County Road S6) is scenic but rather steep and winding. County Road S7 from Lake Henshaw is longer, but its gentle grade makes it more suitable for heavily loaded vehicles and those pulling trailers. To the east, beyond the limits of the park, is the world-famous Palomar Observatory and the highest point of the 6,100-foot mountain. Many park visitors make the eight-mile trip up the road to the Palomar Observatory, which is operated by the California Institute of Technology and open to the public.

Palomar Mountain
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A variety of hiking trails is available within the park. Some lend themselves to short, leisurely walks, and others are suitable for vigorous, all-day hikes. The scenery includes open meadows and thick coniferous or oak forests.


Please don't take anything home except memories and photographs. All features are protected, and disturbing or collecting is not allowed... even pine cones. Leave any historical artifacts you might find alone and report the location to park staff. An artifact “out of place” is historical knowledge lost.


Trails are open to foot traffic only. Dogs and mountain bikes are not allowed on trails. Please note that only cash and checks are accepted for the day use entrance fee.

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