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Explore serene Dos Picos County Park, between Ramona and Poway

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. On a recent weekday visit there, I spotted only 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. The nearby 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. In this year of late winter/spring rain, you should still find some trailside wildflowers through perhaps early July, notably abundant displays of yellow monkeyflower and yarrow.

Summer hours for the park are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. There's a day-use parking fee of $2. Arrive in the cool of the late afternoon on the weekend days to take advantage of the late sunsets; otherwise just pack a picnic and plan to vegetate amid the spreading oaks.

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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. On a recent weekday visit there, I spotted only 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. The nearby 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. In this year of late winter/spring rain, you should still find some trailside wildflowers through perhaps early July, notably abundant displays of yellow monkeyflower and yarrow.

Summer hours for the park are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. There's a day-use parking fee of $2. Arrive in the cool of the late afternoon on the weekend days to take advantage of the late sunsets; otherwise just pack a picnic and plan to vegetate amid the spreading oaks.

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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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