With its natural beauty and abundant resources, Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve is one of my favorite places for biking, jogging and hiking – horseback riding is also a favorite for folks who frequent the canyon. Los Peñasquitos, meaning “little cliffs,” is an exhibit of serenity.
You can plan your biking or hiking route from either side of the canyon: Sorrento Valley Blvd. to the west or Black Mountain Road to the east. Biking from east to west, you’ll face a seven-mile stretch of tunneled trails and fast sweeping turns that will give your knees and leg muscles a test. 3.2 miles in, there’s a waterfall cascading through volcanic rock into a tropical pond – I usually reference it as the midway point on my bike trek.
From here, you will see many trails leading up to the mesa; they’re mostly single tracks that link different parts of the canyon. But both single and double tracks come in different grades – from climbing to downhill to rolling – with a variety of flavors (rock, stone, gravel, mud, clay, grassy and paved road). So choose your battle wisely.
Aside from its rich scenery, the canyon also holds Native American artifacts dating back as far as 7,000 years ago. The area was also part of the first Mexican land grant in San Diego County.
Along your way, you’ll find these historic landmarks: Santa Maria de Los Peñasquitos Adobe Ranch House at the east end of the preserve (off Black Mountain Road) and the ruins of another adobe, El Cuervo, at its west end.
As far as geological formations, the Los Peñasquitos trail has a bit of everything, from riparian streams and flat mesa to steep hills. WIth the variety of terrain there’s many habitats, supporting a diversity of flora and fauna.
Some notable scenery I’ve found in my treks through the canyon:
- • Lush stream where tree frogs, turtles, crayfish, largemouth bass and trout are abundance
- • Freshwater marsh with aquatic birds including mallard ducks, white and great blue herons, egrets, and many more
- • Streamside forest of giant California oaks and sycamore groves
- • Squirrel, mule deer, bobcat, coyote, and raccoon (just a few of the mammal inhabitants)
- • Aside from the typical critters, this area is also home to many rattlesnakes – so be alert!