Simon Open Space Preserve, on the edge of the San Diego Country Estates housing development, is prototypical of other such parks and open-space preserves we’re likely to see established throughout the county’s rural areas during the coming years. The preserve is open for use by hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers. Both equestrians and bike riders will surely have trouble negotiating the excessively rocky trails leading to the preserve’s higher elevations, though.
San Diego residents will find the following directions most expeditious: Use Dye Road, Ramona Street, and Warnock Drive to go between Highway 67 and San Vicente Road. Take San Vicente Road into San Diego Country Estates. Turn left on Arena Drive. After two blocks, make another left on Spangler Park Road. Continue 0.5 mile, turn right on Bassett Way, and look for the Simon Preserve’s entrance on the left. This is the preserve’s southern entrance. A northern access to the preserve lies along Vista Ramona Road.
From the southern trailhead on Bassett Way, you can meander north along a shallow ravine — dotted with a few oaks and willows and at least one tall cottonwood tree — all the way to Vista Ramona Road. About halfway up that passage, note the narrow dirt road branching left (west), roughly following a minor powerline. You can follow this road as it climbs west toward the top of a north-south-trending ridge. Rounded cobbles that have weathered out of the conglomerate rock of the hillside coat the often-steep roadbed, spelling some difficulty for hikers and possible disaster for equine- or bicycle-mounted travelers.
Once you’re on the ridge, the going is easy and you can loop south in the direction of Spangler Peak, or you can head north toward a higher bump on the ridge, Ramona Peak, 550 feet in elevation above your starting point. From anywhere atop the ridge, your gaze takes in nearly the whole of San Diego Country Estates as well as the west slopes of the Cuyamaca Mountains, which rise in the east nearly 20 miles away.
Simon Open Space Preserve
Explore a square-mile patch of open land overlooking San Diego Country Estates.
Distance from downtown San Diego: 42 miles
Hiking/biking length: 2 to 4 miles on looping trails • Difficulty: Moderate
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.