I know a lot of southern California guys shy away from hammocks because they donít know many places to hang. So, I thought Iíd share any information I came across to help others out. A spot I just tried last night: Palomar Mountain Observatory campgrounds in the Cleveland National Forest. I saw several sites that were hammock friendly. I stayed at #15, which is away from tucked away from the parking area, over a bridge and quite private. This site could easily accommodate 3 hangers. I recommend it.
This is car camping, so not a backpackerís dream. But it was great for me to practice as Iím just starting out. Each site has fire pit, BBQ, there are pit toilets and water available.
Take Hwy 15 to 76, head east. Take S6 toward Palomar Mountain. Stay on S6 and keep following the signs to Palomar Mountain. The Observatory campground is on the right and just up the road is the Fry Creek campgrounds on the left. Cost: $15/night for a single campground (by comparison, the CA state campgrounds in the area are $30/night).
Other information: These campgrounds are about 5500 ft in elevation, so might be a good place to practice a winter set up with cold weather, but without heavy snow. If youíre miserable, just pack up and take off. Itís only about 30-45 minutes off of Hwy 15 and 76 junction, so easily accessible for SD, OC and Riverside people. There are some small trails in the area and the ones I saw looked pretty kid friendly if you go with the family.
Lots of stargazingóthereís a reason the Palomar Observatory is out there, after all. I saw at least two groups out there with heavy duty telescopes to enjoy the night. It was clear and beautiful out there, so if you are into stargazing, this is a great place.
And, if you gamble or like casino buffets, the Pala Indian Casino is on the 76 and you can take advantage of that on the way up or back (or both!).