Category Archives: San Diego Hiking

Pala Preserve

Last weekend I wanted to go hiking…I wanted to feel like I was far away but not have to deal with the driving that actually entails far away. I pulled out Google maps for San Diego County and zoomed out looking for green spots on the map. That is when I remembered the Wilderness Garden Preserve in Pala. It is just off of the 76 East and I feel, little known unless you live near. This time of year is one of the best times of the year to come–they close for the month of August, partially due to the heat in that time of year.

The park is the oldest county park in San Diego County and trails are very well-maintained and of an easy-moderate level. It is a great place to bring your family and you can also bring your dog. Just be sure to bring plenty of water for all if you take them out on the trail.

While we were out there we saw many types of birds, hawks, loons, bullfrogs and even what looked like some type of praying mantis.

 

 

 

 

The preserve also has some interesting history as a grist mill and there are some structures and information at the Ranger Station. In addition, is some Native American history from the Luiseno Tribe who had a metate located along the trail with a marker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the nicest things about this park, however, was that even on a Sunday, a holiday, no less, it felt very secluded and private. There were very few people when we came in the middle of the day and there is plenty of room to spread out with over 700 acres of park space.

The Wilderness Gardens Preserve is open from 8 AM to 4 PM, Thursday through Monday only. Parking is $3. It is worth the drive this time of year and provides many attractions and natural beauty that is unique to this area.

    

 

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Bliss Path

Yesterday, I had woken up remembering my dream from the night. In my dream, I had gone into a dark temple which was empty except for the Priest who I could not see. I sat down in this circular space and crossed my legs and the Priest started the chant, “Ommm”. I joined along with the chant “Ommmm”. It sounded empty and dull at first. Soon after there was another voice joining in and gradually the chant multiplied and before I knew it the room was full of people chanting and forming dance circles.

This was the right frame of mind to start off my day and serendipity led me to this trail that I had no idea existed. I found the San Dieguito River Trail by chance, I had planned on going to Del Mar dog beach but the tide was so unusually high that there was not much of a beach for the pooch to run around. So we ventured down the road to look over the marsh that was now a large body of water on the east side of the road. I crossed over the road to that side and saw a walking path and took the road less taken. Apparently, many people are also not aware of this trail because it was virtually empty save for the three to four people I came across in the 3 miles that I walked this trail.

Not long after I started walking you come upon the train tracks for the Coaster and so the trail does not officially start until after the train tracks. I cannot endorse crossing the train tracks, there is little warning of an oncoming train and they are fast so best to start after the train tracks. There is parking, I believe just where the path starts, you can consult the map I linked here or find parking just outside of the Del Mar Public Works building.

Continuing on this path were landscaped trails, benches, tranquility, peace and all kinds of different varieties of birds that crossed my path. There are signs posted allowing fishing in certain areas as well. The fog tempered any glare from the sun and made me feel that I was up in the Pacific Northwest, perhaps walking along the Deschutes or some other river trail in a cooler climate.

There are informative signs posted along the trail and I learned that this is a newer portion of the Coast to Crest trail and work began on this portion in May 2016. There was a walkway that also goes down into the middle of the marsh but it was closed at this time for construction to protect the wetland habitat.

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As I crossed Jimmy Durante Blvd. to get to the other side of the trail, I passed what looked to be a new brewery being constructed. That will make for a nice riverside summer stop for a local brew and relaxing views.

new-brew

Along this stretch of the trail, it looked more landscaped and more signs were posted listing volunteers and the history and biology of the area. One engraved plaque on a stone really caught my eye though..

love-sign

It is hard to read from the photo, but it says, “This Riverpath made possible in part through the generous donation of land by Mary Lou Jefferson in memory of her husband Philip Jefferson”. I thought what a loving tribute to her husband to share this beautiful space with others in memory of her husband. So fitting for Valentine’s Day coming  around the corner. Evidently, many volunteers and donors put a lot of work into making this path a reality.

At this point, the trail or path seems to end at an overlook, former site of the  ‘Grand Avenue Bridge’. The Del Mar Sandpiper, a local paper, provides some interesting information on the origins of this former bridge, which is now a wetlands overlook deck.

old-grand-ave-bridge

I look forward to the completion of this ambitious Coast to Crest trail project. For more information on that, the San Dieguito River Park website has a plethora of info by clicking on the hyperlink under Coast to Crest trail project.

After my dream, I truly found my bliss on this path and that my friends in these crazy times is much-needed. Namaste.

 

 

 

*New Trail Alert*, Annie’s Canyon Trail-San Elijo Lagoon

A friend on Facebook recently posted about this new trail and that is how it got on my radar. I watched the virtual trail video and it brought back memories of Ho Chi Minh trail near Black’s Beach, although this is like a controlled Ho Chi Minh trail, because it has just enough excitement for my more out-of-shape physique without sending me potentially to the Emergency Department, which good luck, getting seen, by the way. So, this looked doable and interesting.

This is a good hike to do in the summer-time as it is along the coast or rather near the coast, so there is an intermittent ocean breeze that brings relief. There is a bit of shade and there are a few different points of entry depending on how long of a hike you want. You can get more info on that here.

Once you get to the sign that says, “Annie’s Trail”, you can take either the one way loop or the viewpoint trail.

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I made the mistake of choosing the viewpoint trail and so when we realized at the top that we had bypassed the cool cave trail and sandstone climb, well, we just had to descend and do it again! Tip: Use the carved in foot depressions on the side of the trail to ascend in the canyon trail, don’t cross-country ski up the sand on the bottom like I did until I realized the foot depressions were easier.

Bring water, I recommend a Camel Bak or light backpack to hold your water so you have your hands free for the strenuous climb part. You will need both hands to leverage up the cliff. It really isn’t that bad though. And it is a short ascent. You will feel like Sir Edmund Hillary when you’re done though. Small risk, great reward.

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Levering up

There were a lot of people out hiking the trail. With 660,000+ views on the County of San Diego website after only a couple of weeks being open, it is not a surprise. Please be courteous with extra people, especially older and younger and yield to those going downhill. Dogs must also be leashed, there are rattlesnakes out there. I know because I have seen several rattlesnakes in the San Elijo Lagoon Preserve before and you wouldn’t want your dog to get bitten by a rattlesnake because it is not a quick hike back to the road. It is, at best about 1.5 miles.

I hope this trail is around for awhile, it is pretty fun, great 360 degree views of coast, lagoon and to the east. Here are more photos below, just click on them to enlarge them.

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Oh! Ramona

The Ramona Grasslands Preserve encompasses approximately 3 miles of trail looping around a mostly flat open space preserve off of Highland Valley Road just past the more popular Potato Chip Rock trail. This trail is frequented by horseback riders, dogs and their owners and hikers and bikers. It is also home to many different varieties of birds, coyotes, squirrels and snakes (fortunately, not seen on this day!).

As the pictures show, it is a beautiful hike with views for miles and many different wildflowers along with a lot of pea vines (?), sage, rosemary and other varietals growing in abundance. I wouldn’t mind being out here for any one of those episodes of “Alone”, “Survivor”, “Naked and Afraid” as I think I would do quite fine. They even have a crop of cows alongside the fence line which were not view-able the day we were out here.

This trail is mostly fire road with minimal climbing and there are picnic tables scattered throughout the hiking trails so it is a nice place to bring a lunch or snack and sit a little and immerse yourself in the quiet. Ramona Grasslands isn’t the hotbed of activity that nearby Potato Chip and Iron Mountain are so you can feel like you are getting away from it all and only see maybe 1-2 groups of other people without having to drive to much out of San Diego. Bring water for sure and sunblock though and it is probably nicest to visit in the spring and late fall.

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Urban Adventuring in South Park

Can be found in Switzer Canyon in South Park. I recently took a friend on this hike and she was in awe of how many different trails and landscapes we came across on this short hike. The route to this trail begins in the midst of an eclectic neighborhood with old Airstream trailers, refurbished  homes with an assortment of architectural creativity. You then come across the entrance to the trail which drops down into the base of a canyon and then leads back to the bridge which houses the Switzer canyon sign. To get to the rest of the trail here is where your adventuring comes in. You might want to bring a flashlight as you will need to hunch down and pass under the bridge through a small tunnel. Don’t think about whether there are mouse droppings or meth needles on the ground, just use your iPhone app’s flashlight and venture forth! On the other side is some interesting graffiti and a rock-covered trail through the rest of the canyon. This deposits after a quarter of a mile along the perimeter of Balboa Park’s golf course and the backyard of some homes.

All in all, you will enjoy the challenge of this hike and it is a peaceful walk through parts of San Diego I am sure many have never frequented–some of the best parts about San Diego coming together.

Chollas Lake in Oak Park is Chula

This park flies under the radar of most people in San Diego, even people like us who have been living in San Diego over half of our lives and had no idea this place was literally under our noses in the neighboring community of Oak Park. Depending on which way you drive to get here you aren’t expecting much, but the proud residents of this recreational park and lake are keeping a good thing secret. I think….

The park has a fitness course, a cactus garden, walking trails and paths, fishing lessons for youth, picnic tables, a dock and lake, several different species of birds and a protected area for breeding and events such as the free summer lunches put on by San Diego Unified. A smart way to make sure neighborhood kids get to eat while school is out and also expose them to a nice setting out in nature.

I am glad there are places like this out there in such an urban, densely populated area, so that local residents don’t have to drive for miles to take a break out in nature. There has been some controversy lately in the local news because of the water source for replenishing the lake. Chollas Lake does not produce its own water so it has to be pumped in, but the community benefits of having this preserve make it a worthwhile sacrifice. Otherwise, there is nothing else like it out here for city dwellers other than Balboa Park which is for some people that live in this community and don’t have regular transportation, still a stretch to get to.

This is a place that helps bring the community together and offers urban youth fishing lessons at a low cost along with other activities such as summer camps, an annual egg hunt and reading with the Ranger.

Here are some links to learn more:

Chollas Lake Map

Programs at Chollas Lake

Coast Walk La Jolla

Most people know about La Jolla Cove and what a great place it is to take friends and family visiting from out of town, I don’t think most locals are aware of one of the best trails in La Jolla cove though–I wasn’t and it has to be one of the best-kept secrets in La Jolla, one the locals probably don’t want you to know about. So, this is a short little trail that starts just north of the La Jolla cove, most people go south towards the village, but if you go up past the cove along the cliffs there is a Coast Walk that takes you along some steep cliffs with drop-dead stunning views of the cove alongside prime real estate. As an added bonus, there is some beautiful natural landscaping alongside the path and a wooden bridge and stairs about halfway in. You also can see plenty of harbor seals, cormorants and pelicans. Watch your step, erosion happens quickly and there are some areas you want to watch your step, not recommended to go off trail either, this place gets it time on the evening news for people falling off the side of the cliffs just like Point Loma and Black’s Beach do as well.

Plan to come early to get a parking spot and then grab some breakfast afterwards!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-of-Coast-Walk-Trail-La-Jolla-California/292523184110022?fref=ts

http://www.math.ucsd.edu/~fan/savecoastwalk/