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Jamul's newly opened Hollenbeck Canyon Wildlife Area offers a new opportunity for hiking and horseback riding.

The acquisition of approximately 3500 acres of Daley Ranch property near Jamul last year by California's Wildlife Conservation Board led to the establishment of the Hollenbeck Canyon Wildlife Area, now being managed by the California Department of Fish and Game. About half of the property remains closed to the public, while the remaining half is open to hiking, horseback riding, and seasonal bird hunting (late October through January). Pets on leash are welcome, but vehicles -- including mountain bikes -- are not.

Despite the scant rainfall of the past year and the dry-as-dust condition of the landscape out there right now, the area still invites a brief visit -- even this summer. Just arrive during the cool early-morning or early-evening hours. Posted hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

Take Highway 94 southeast from Jamul to Honey Springs Road, and find the large trailhead parking area 0.1 mile east along the latter road. A one-third-mile passage on the trail ahead, through a parched and barren meadow, hardly prepares you for the idyllic scene soon to come. You pass a yellow-topped post marking the route of the historic (and currently discontinuous) California Riding and Hiking Trail, and descend gently into shallow Hollenbeck Canyon, which at this point is lined by an agreeable collection of massive coast live oaks and leafy California sycamores. One of the first oaks in sight is a grizzled, misshapen survivor of past fires soaring some 50 feet into the sky. The trail soon curves left to cross the now-dry canyon bottom and joins a dirt road. Stay right -- and remember this juncture on your way back, when you will be tracing this same route backward.

Onward you go alongside a thin green strip of willow, mule-fat, and other riparian vegetation, with a stray Engelmann oak or two joining the coast live oaks and sycamores. The side walls of the canyon, clothed in a desiccated veneer of dormant sage-scrub vegetation, gradually close in tighter. From this vantage, no sign of civilization save the road you walk upon is apparent. The wind whispers in fluttering leaves.

At 1.3 miles from the start, a side path goes left about 50 yards to the foundation remains of a cabin. Soon after (on the main route), a side trail diverges to the right from the wider path that climbs upward along a broad ridge. Both alternatives run into the boundary of public land not far ahead. The more interesting of the two is the path to the right. It threads the eroded west wall of the narrowing gorge ahead. At 2.0 miles, a yellow sign identifies the property line of the wildlife area. At that spot, there's a vertiginous view into the "narrows" of Hollenbeck Canyon, where floodwaters tumbling down from upstream Lyons Valley have cut a nearly vertical trench in the bedrock. Off in the distance, eastward, floats the 3738-foot summit of Lyons Peak.

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The acquisition of approximately 3500 acres of Daley Ranch property near Jamul last year by California's Wildlife Conservation Board led to the establishment of the Hollenbeck Canyon Wildlife Area, now being managed by the California Department of Fish and Game. About half of the property remains closed to the public, while the remaining half is open to hiking, horseback riding, and seasonal bird hunting (late October through January). Pets on leash are welcome, but vehicles -- including mountain bikes -- are not.

Despite the scant rainfall of the past year and the dry-as-dust condition of the landscape out there right now, the area still invites a brief visit -- even this summer. Just arrive during the cool early-morning or early-evening hours. Posted hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

Take Highway 94 southeast from Jamul to Honey Springs Road, and find the large trailhead parking area 0.1 mile east along the latter road. A one-third-mile passage on the trail ahead, through a parched and barren meadow, hardly prepares you for the idyllic scene soon to come. You pass a yellow-topped post marking the route of the historic (and currently discontinuous) California Riding and Hiking Trail, and descend gently into shallow Hollenbeck Canyon, which at this point is lined by an agreeable collection of massive coast live oaks and leafy California sycamores. One of the first oaks in sight is a grizzled, misshapen survivor of past fires soaring some 50 feet into the sky. The trail soon curves left to cross the now-dry canyon bottom and joins a dirt road. Stay right -- and remember this juncture on your way back, when you will be tracing this same route backward.

Onward you go alongside a thin green strip of willow, mule-fat, and other riparian vegetation, with a stray Engelmann oak or two joining the coast live oaks and sycamores. The side walls of the canyon, clothed in a desiccated veneer of dormant sage-scrub vegetation, gradually close in tighter. From this vantage, no sign of civilization save the road you walk upon is apparent. The wind whispers in fluttering leaves.

At 1.3 miles from the start, a side path goes left about 50 yards to the foundation remains of a cabin. Soon after (on the main route), a side trail diverges to the right from the wider path that climbs upward along a broad ridge. Both alternatives run into the boundary of public land not far ahead. The more interesting of the two is the path to the right. It threads the eroded west wall of the narrowing gorge ahead. At 2.0 miles, a yellow sign identifies the property line of the wildlife area. At that spot, there's a vertiginous view into the "narrows" of Hollenbeck Canyon, where floodwaters tumbling down from upstream Lyons Valley have cut a nearly vertical trench in the bedrock. Off in the distance, eastward, floats the 3738-foot summit of Lyons Peak.

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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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