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Stories by Jerry Schad

Mortero Palms

Take a walk through Mortero Palms in the Jacumba Mountains of Anza-Borrego.

From the trailmaster’s favorites folder. "Limmipedes,” my three-year-old son called them, those many-legged survivors from the Mesozoic era, marching across the sand in seemingly random directions, oblivious to our flashlight beams. Our land of limmipedes, ...

End of the Trail

I began writing the Reader’s “Roam-O-Rama” column on January 28, 1993, with a description of a wild and lonely campsite in the Anza-Borrego Desert called Mortero Palms. This “Roam” column, my 861st, is the last ...

San Diego Zoo Loop

For a bit of morning exercise, especially if you’re a local San Diegan, consider this quick jaunt at the San Diego Zoo — a place not normally thought of as a hiking destination. Get there ...

Imperial Beach Walk

Imperial Beach’s beaches are not as glamorous as others farther north, but they do include some very secluded stretches of sand, including the one described here, lying within the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge. To ...

Simon Open Space Preserve

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 ...

Lewis Falls

The recent opening of Highway 39 high above Azusa, after years of repair, allows hikers and campers to once again enjoy the beautiful Crystal Lake Recreation Area. Troubles began with the destructive Curve Fire of ...

Two Little La Jolla Parks

The La Jolla Heights Open Space clings to a patch of chaparral-clad hillside overlooking the village of La Jolla. Pottery Canyon is essentially a secluded ravine, right off busy Torrey Pines Road. Both are small ...

Gaslamp Quarter

Formerly San Diego’s “skid row,” downtown San Diego’s core historic area was reborn in the 1980s under a new name: the Gaslamp Quarter. Actually, gas lamps were never used for outdoor lighting in San Diego ...

South Fortuna Mountain

Mission Trails Regional Park’s 1291-foot-high South Fortuna Mountain is one of several summits of similar stature stretching from Cowles Mountain in the south to North Fortuna Mountain in the north. It’s easy to understand why ...

Chiquito Basin

If you want to spot wildlife, the earlier you make the hike to Chiquito Basin, the better. One morning, in the soft wet ground along the way, I discovered fresh tracks of a deer and ...

The New Flume Trail Out of El Monte County Park

The County of San Diego’s brand-new Flume Trail linking El Monte Park to Blossom Valley is hardly flat, as the name “flume” might imply. On the contrary, it darts relentlessly upward on a zigzagging route, ...

Find Coast Redwoods in Balboa Park

Balboa Park’s trail system is just about complete. After several years of planning and implementation, five trail “gateways” are in place, and a total of 19 trails emanate from those gateways. Throughout the park, sprucing ...

Potrero Regional Park

Potrero Regional Park hides in a spacious, live-oak-covered corner of Potrero Valley, near the forgotten south-county hamlet of Potrero — east of the Tecate turnoff and west of Campo. The word potrero is Spanish for ...

The Embarcadero

San Diego’s Embarcadero, the place of departure and arrival for vessels as small as fishing skiffs and as large as ocean liners, defines the city’s connection to the watery worlds of San Diego Bay and ...

East Tecolote Canyon

Rustic signs along some of Clairemont’s and Bay Park’s major streets call attention to one of the oldest designated open-space parks in San Diego: the 900-acre Tecolote Canyon Natural Park. The park’s unpaved service roads ...

Sheep Canyon

Remote Sheep Canyon, secreted in the middle reaches of Coyote Canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, features some of the most rugged yet beautiful terrain in San Diego County. The canyon has two main forks ...

Lake Jennings

Your impression of Lake Jennings may be strongly colored by the season in which you choose to visit it — a not-unusual circumstance in many of San Diego County’s inland, low-elevation locales. Summer’s heat and ...

Upper Aliso Canyon in Chino Hills State Park

The sprawling Chino Hills State Park east of Los Angeles offers 14,000 acres of open space for hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers to roam (note: dogs are not welcome). Unfortunately, the November 2008 “Freeway Complex ...

A Safari Experience in North County

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park (in case you didn’t know, it’s the former Wild Animal Park) in Escondido sprawls over an 1800-acre expanse chosen for its resemblance to Africa’s most productive wildlife areas. Make ...

Anza-Borrego's Pinyon Ridge

Like caterpillars marching to their own drummers, the rock-ribbed mountain ridges of the Anza-Borrego Desert nose this way and that, eventually finding their roots in the sand-drowned valleys sloping downward into the Salton Basin. The ...

Vernal Pool Trail in the Santa Rosa Plateau

One of the largest vernal pools in California (39 acres at maximum capacity) lies in a shallow depression atop near-flat Mesa de Colorado, in southwest Riverside County’s Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve. Small vernal pools ...

Historical Walk in Balboa Park

The 1915–16 Panama-California Exposition site in Balboa Park is renowned among San Diegans for its incomparably beautiful Spanish-Moorish buildings, its gardens, and the graceful Cabrillo Bridge. That area is the primary destination of the walk ...

Stanley Peak in Daley Ranch

The recent purchase of a parcel of land on the east border of the Daley Ranch preserve in Escondido ensures that hikers can now visit boulder-dotted Stanley Peak, a summit that formerly lay just out ...

Anza Borrego's Coyote Mountain

The desolate ridge of Coyote Mountain rises like the dark, furrowed flank of an elephant over the sand-drowned Borrego and Clark valleys in the north part of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Scattered amid slabs of ...

Upper Las Virgenes Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains

On the Upper Las Virgenes View Trail, you look down upon the emerald-green (currently, at least) upper drainage of Las Virgenes Creek, a tributary of Malibu Creek whose tentacles reach north into the Simi Hills. ...

Del Dios Gorge

On its roughly 50-mile course from the mountain crest near Julian to the beach at Del Mar, the combined Santa Ysabel Creek/San Dieguito River courses through several steep and narrow canyons. The lowest of these, ...

Indianhead in Borrego Springs

Indianhead, a 3990-foot promontory perched along the north wall of Borrego Palm Canyon, juts dramatically from the desert floor near Borrego Springs and the Anza-Borrego Desert visitor center. There are several true mountain-climbing routes to ...

San Diego's Green Flash Phenomenon

Crystal-clear skies are visiting us again, as Santa Ana winds swoop down intermittently from the northeast, as cold winds blow from the north, or as high pressure invades the county and lingers here for a ...

East Balboa Park

Balboa Park’s easternmost section, aligned with 28th Street, isn’t well known among most San Diegans, let alone tourists. North Parkians, South Parkians, and Golden Hilliers, along with local golfers, do know of several out-of-the-way features ...

La Jolla Shores Has It All — Surf, Sand, and Sea Creatures

For beachcombing, tidepool exploration, and all-over suntanning, the coastal stretch north of La Jolla Shores can’t be beat. This coming winter’s extreme low tides (typically a tide of -1 foot or lower) are especially conducive ...

Myer Valley in the Jacumba Wilderness

Have you ever driven down Interstate 8 east of Jacumba and, eyeing the immense boulder piles that rise on both sides, wondered what it would be like to clamber over them? Here’s your chance. Follow ...

La Tuna Traverse in the Verdugo Mountains

The 1100-acre La Tuna Canyon Park, basically an open-space area with minimal picnic facilities, drapes over the north-facing slopes of the Verdugo Mountains near Glendale. On this trek, which is perfect for a cool late ...

Maple Canyon to Banker's Hill

With quaint footbridges spanning two wooded ravines, scores of historic homes, plus mature landscaping, Banker’s Hill speaks to historic elegance and the preservation of nature. The following short ramble through canyon bottom and along quiet ...

Silverado-Modjeska Peak Loop

The goal of this marathon hike or mountain-bike ride is to reach Modjeska Peak, the lower of the two distinct peaks that form “Old Saddleback,” the defining summit ridge of the Santa Ana Mountains. If ...

Desert View Trail: An Autumn Ramble on the Edge of Mount Laguna

The Desert View Trail in the Laguna Mountains delivers exactly what its name says, but there’s more to see than just the distant desert. From the nearly 6000-foot heights of the trail, you can enjoy ...

Explore Mission Gorge by Foot, Bike, Skates, or Car

Mission Gorge is arguably San Diego’s (city, not county) most spectacular topographical feature, with walls on both sides rising several hundred feet at a nearly 45-degree pitch. From a geological perspective, the gorge was carved ...

Anza-Borrego's Font's Point Has Best View of Badlands

Q: What are badlands? A: “Wasteland” that has been eroded into unusual shapes by wind and water — originally from the French term les mauvaises terres. Our local version of this, the Borrego Badlands in ...

San Diego's Best Sunrises, Sunsets, and Moonrises from Shelter Island's Shoreline Path

If Shelter Island seems overly familiar to you, then try visiting this artificial “island” (or shall we say, peninsula, which is technically more correct) at either the opening or the closing of any clear day. ...

Scale Palomar Mountain the Hard Way

Most visitors motor right up to the cool forests of Palomar Mountain’s parks or observatory on the curling South Grade or East Grade roads. Exercise-minded hikers might try an alternative east-side approach that actually reaches ...

Hike or bike to Sunset Peak Summit, near Mount Baldy

The hike (or mountain-bike ride) to Sunset Peak, near the community of Mount Baldy, offers up fine views of an archipelago of high peaks stretching from San Gabriel Wilderness in the west to Cucamonga Wilderness ...

San Dieguito Lagoon Trail

San Dieguito Lagoon’s new “Lagoon Trail” and boardwalk now stretches 1.4 miles between Jimmy Durante Boulevard and the Albertsons shopping center just south of Via de la Valle. The new segment of trail is yet ...

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks, a scruffy, boulder-studded promontory rising amid Poway’s suburban streets, is less known for its own existence than for the major street named after it: Twin Peaks Road. After a short but vigorous climb, ...

Oakmont Loop

The pint-sized (244-acre) Verdugo Mountains Open Space Preserve covers a scruffy patch of east-facing slopes in the city of Glendale. The circular hiking/biking route described here is pieced out of fire roads and residential streets ...

Foster Point

Come to Foster Point not only for a great view, but also for an opportunity to identify many of Southern California’s highest mountains. A direction finder, installed by the Sierra Club, shows 17 peaks, including ...

Swami's Beach

Looking for a place to escape the summer heat? Look no farther than the scenic strand of beach stretching south from Swami’s Park in Encinitas. The walk on the sand isn’t difficult, and if you ...

Fry Creek Trail

Fry Creek Campground, in the Cleveland National Forest on Palomar Mountain, offers the kind of forest camping experience that is becoming increasingly scarce in Southern California. A long-term drought cycle and various recent wildfires have ...

Victory to Las Virgenes

The Upper Las Virgenes Open Space Preserve (former Ahmanson Ranch) in the Simi Hills contains some great examples of oak-studded hilly terrain symbolic of coastal California. Right now these hills have lost their green sheen, ...

Cougar Pass–Jesmond Dene Bike Ride

Rural roads suitable for bicycling still exist around Escondido, particularly north of town, where the landscape slopes upward toward boulder-studded hillsides. The route featured here covers ten miles, with a significant elevation gain of 1100 ...

Garapito Loop

In spring and late summer, the “elfin forest” of chaparral in the Santa Monica Mountains takes on a dozen shades of green and bursts forth with nectar-bearing blossoms that are often more attractive to the ...

In-Line Skating Venues

Joining joggers, walkers, and cyclists on local recreational pathways are a certain number of recreational skaters, especially those using fast, sleek, in-line skates. Smooth, paved footpaths, bike paths and sidewalks, plus a few traffic-free roads ...

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