Carlsbad's Rancho Carrillo community trail circles what used to be the heart of the 2538-acre Rancho de los Quiotes (Ranch of the Spanish Daggers). Stage and screen actor Leo Carrillo founded the ranch in 1937 and built most of the structures on it during the following three years. In 2003 the ranch's 27-acre core, including several restored early-California-style buildings, were dedicated as the Leo Carrillo Ranch Historical Park. As is typical of the entire North County region, much of the remainder of the original ranch property is gradually being subdivided for housing.
To circumnavigate the historical park -- a two-mile walk mostly on City of Carlsbad trails -- start at the Leo Carrillo trailhead parking lot off Poinsettia Lane near Melrose Drive and just west of Carrillo Elementary School. Begin by heading west on the wide unpaved trail. To the left and below, initially, are the fenced grounds of the historical park. After about 0.3 mile, turn left and cross one of the most elaborately expensive hiking/biking bridges in the county. The concrete span takes you high over a broad ravine filled with riparian vegetation and a trickling stream, which will flow until the onset of summer heat.
On the far side of the bridge, curl upward along a hillside and make a left to go east, staying alongside some houses on the right and alongside the ravine on your left. Keep going until you reach pavement at the residential street called Via Conquistador. Make an immediate left and a quick left again, and you're on Carrillo Way, which leads in a block to the main entrance to Leo Carrillo Ranch Historical Park.
At the historical park's entry gate you have two choices: If the park is closed, or if you are traveling with a pet, stay right on the path that squeezes between the historical park's perimeter wall and Melrose Drive. Stay on that route all the way around the outside of the wall to reach your starting point. Better, if the park is open (Tuesday through Sunday), walk down to the grounds below, check out the visitor center, admire the architecture and gardens, and by all means spend some time watching the resident peacocks. When you're finished with your visit, find the back gate at the park's northernmost corner (open during park hours only) and link up with the path alongside the perimeter wall that will take you right back to the starting point.