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Take an early-evening stroll through spring-green chaparral on Cuyamaca's Pine Ridge Trail.

If you want a quick escape from the dreary late-afternoon June gloom dogging the coast of late, try this little outing to the blue-sky realm of the Cuyamaca Mountains. Pack along a light dinner of potato salad and other warm-weather victuals, and head to Green Valley Campground (30 miles east of San Diego on Interstate 8, then 7 miles north on Highway 79). Drive in, ante up the day-use fee, and drive a bit farther to the Arroyo Seco picnic area. Here's a cool oasis, densely shaded by some of the biggest live oak trees anywhere, splendidly quiet after the lunchtime crowds have departed. After your meal, you can work off some calories on the following three-mile looping hike.

Walk over to the southwest (upper) edge of the adjacent camping area and pick up the Pine Ridge Trail at campsite 38. This narrow, two-mile-long trail starts by winding upward through smooth-barked manzanita brush and other forms of chaparral shrubbery that have remained green rather late this season. Soon, by gaining the crest of Pine Ridge, you can look down upon the half-shadowed Sweetwater River gorge to the south, filled with dark oaks and pines and threaded by a silvery ribbon of water. Some timber appears as you approach the topmost knoll of Pine Ridge. These trees -- Coulter pines and black oaks -- cling to the north slopes of the ridge, where less sunshine permits a greater retention of ground moisture. From the top of Pine Ridge you enjoy nice views of nearby Cuyamaca Peak, sidelit by the setting sun.

Past the topmost knoll of the ridge, the trail zigzags down to the wide California Riding and Hiking Trail. Turn right, go 0.1 mile, and turn right again on a still-wider trail -- Arroyo Seco Road -- which leads directly back to the picnic area. As twilight descends on the grassy meadows to either side of the road, keep an eye out for mule deer and coyotes.

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If you want a quick escape from the dreary late-afternoon June gloom dogging the coast of late, try this little outing to the blue-sky realm of the Cuyamaca Mountains. Pack along a light dinner of potato salad and other warm-weather victuals, and head to Green Valley Campground (30 miles east of San Diego on Interstate 8, then 7 miles north on Highway 79). Drive in, ante up the day-use fee, and drive a bit farther to the Arroyo Seco picnic area. Here's a cool oasis, densely shaded by some of the biggest live oak trees anywhere, splendidly quiet after the lunchtime crowds have departed. After your meal, you can work off some calories on the following three-mile looping hike.

Walk over to the southwest (upper) edge of the adjacent camping area and pick up the Pine Ridge Trail at campsite 38. This narrow, two-mile-long trail starts by winding upward through smooth-barked manzanita brush and other forms of chaparral shrubbery that have remained green rather late this season. Soon, by gaining the crest of Pine Ridge, you can look down upon the half-shadowed Sweetwater River gorge to the south, filled with dark oaks and pines and threaded by a silvery ribbon of water. Some timber appears as you approach the topmost knoll of Pine Ridge. These trees -- Coulter pines and black oaks -- cling to the north slopes of the ridge, where less sunshine permits a greater retention of ground moisture. From the top of Pine Ridge you enjoy nice views of nearby Cuyamaca Peak, sidelit by the setting sun.

Past the topmost knoll of the ridge, the trail zigzags down to the wide California Riding and Hiking Trail. Turn right, go 0.1 mile, and turn right again on a still-wider trail -- Arroyo Seco Road -- which leads directly back to the picnic area. As twilight descends on the grassy meadows to either side of the road, keep an eye out for mule deer and coyotes.

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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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