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Roberts Ranch Opens its Gates to Hikers in Cleveland National Forest

Thanks to the crusading efforts of Descanso cabinet-maker Duncan McFetridge, affectionately known by some as the "Robin Hood of Cleveland Forest," two inholdings (islands of private property inside public-domain lands) near Descanso are being added to the Cleveland National Forest. The former Roberts and Ellis Ranches, adjacent to Interstate 8 at Highway 79/Japatul Valley Road, were slated for subdivided housing until Duncan and his merry band of supporters — the Cleveland National Forest Foundation — helped raise money to finance their purchase. These are considered key parcels for preservation, as they stand at the gateway between the expanding suburbs to the west and the vast open spaces of the Cleveland Forest to the east.

Engelmann Oak, Roberts Ranch

To reach the Roberts Ranch, now open to the public, exit I-8 and drive south on Japatul Valley Road 0.2 mile to a pipe gate in the wire fence on the left, just short of a Caltrans maintenance station. Park on the road shoulder. Be sure to display a "National Forest Adventure Pass" (dial 619-673-6180 to obtain one) on your vehicle to avoid getting a ticket.

On foot now, push through the gate and follow an old roadbed north across a grassy flat, then east up through dense oak woodland. After 0.5 mile, stay left and bend north to enter an expansive meadow, dotted with statuesque Engelmann oaks. The scene is quintessentially Old West, save for the slightly annoying hum of cars on the nearby freeway.

If you walk all the way across the meadow, about half a mile farther east, you'll discover a century-old ditch, dotted with encroaching oaks, running roughly north-south. This is a remnant of a never-completed aqueduct and flume that would have shunted water from a proposed reservoir on Pine Valley Creek near Pine Valley over to King Creek, a tributary of the San Diego River on the west slope of the Cuyamaca Mountains.

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Thanks to the crusading efforts of Descanso cabinet-maker Duncan McFetridge, affectionately known by some as the "Robin Hood of Cleveland Forest," two inholdings (islands of private property inside public-domain lands) near Descanso are being added to the Cleveland National Forest. The former Roberts and Ellis Ranches, adjacent to Interstate 8 at Highway 79/Japatul Valley Road, were slated for subdivided housing until Duncan and his merry band of supporters — the Cleveland National Forest Foundation — helped raise money to finance their purchase. These are considered key parcels for preservation, as they stand at the gateway between the expanding suburbs to the west and the vast open spaces of the Cleveland Forest to the east.

Engelmann Oak, Roberts Ranch

To reach the Roberts Ranch, now open to the public, exit I-8 and drive south on Japatul Valley Road 0.2 mile to a pipe gate in the wire fence on the left, just short of a Caltrans maintenance station. Park on the road shoulder. Be sure to display a "National Forest Adventure Pass" (dial 619-673-6180 to obtain one) on your vehicle to avoid getting a ticket.

On foot now, push through the gate and follow an old roadbed north across a grassy flat, then east up through dense oak woodland. After 0.5 mile, stay left and bend north to enter an expansive meadow, dotted with statuesque Engelmann oaks. The scene is quintessentially Old West, save for the slightly annoying hum of cars on the nearby freeway.

If you walk all the way across the meadow, about half a mile farther east, you'll discover a century-old ditch, dotted with encroaching oaks, running roughly north-south. This is a remnant of a never-completed aqueduct and flume that would have shunted water from a proposed reservoir on Pine Valley Creek near Pine Valley over to King Creek, a tributary of the San Diego River on the west slope of the Cuyamaca Mountains.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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