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Serene Dos Picos County Park, outside Ramona, nestles into East County’s sweet-smelling chaparral hillsides like a dewdrop caught in the hollow of a leaf. The name refers to two prominent mountain peaks nearby, though which ones they are (out of many rocky summits hereabouts) are hard to identify.

Spotted on a recent weekend visit to the park were a few quiet campers, a couple of Tom Sawyeresque boys making their barefoot acquaintance with the squishy mud on the bottom of the park’s shallow pond, and a gaggle of kids in the youth group area.

Dos Picos Park packs a lot into its smallish 78-acre site. Here you’ll find perhaps the most impressive spread of picnic tables in all the county, each one perfectly shaded by closely spaced live oaks that are believed to be as much as three centuries old. New play equipment has been installed in the kid’s playground area. The nearby pond is fringed by cattails and bearded with growths of algae — though the coming rainy season’s runoff and chilly temperatures will likely dispel most of the algae. The pond has ducks and geese cruising for handouts, and enjoys occasional visitation by Western grebes and great blue herons. In the oak groves, the gentle tapping of Nuttall’s woodpeckers can be heard.

On foot, you can circumnavigate the park by going west through the camping area to the start of the park’s half-mile-long Nature Trail. Follow this delightful path, which darts up a ravine and contours across a chaparral-clothed slope, to where it emerges in the Youth Group Area.

You get to Dos Picos Park by turning south from Highway 67 on Mussey Grade Road. Proceed one mile to Dos Picos Park Road on the right, and follow it one mile west to the park. Current day-use park hours are 9:30 a.m. to sunset, seven days a week (a small parking fee is charged). Camping opportunities are offered year round. Call the park at 760-789-2220 for more information.

This article contains information about a publicly owned recreation or wilderness area. Trails and pathways are not necessarily marked. Conditions can change rapidly. Hikers should be properly equipped and have safety and navigational skills. The Reader and Jerry Schad assume no responsibility for any adverse experience.

Dos Picos Park
Hike, picnic, or while away a lazy afternoon at Dos Picos County Park near Ramona.
Distance from downtown San Diego: 38 miles
Hiking length: About 1 mile
Difficulty: Easy

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