Quantcast
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

Tour Doane and French valleys on Palomar Mountain, and enjoy some of San Diego County's finest high-elevation woodlands and meadows.

Mile-high Palomar Mountain State Park has probably the finest montane scenery in San Diego County, complete with trickling streams, mixed oak-conifer forests, and rolling meadows. So far, this magnificent spot has managed to evade the reach of catastrophic wildfire. The stomach-churning drive up Palomar's South Grade and East Grade roads is well worth the trouble once you get out of the car and start breathing in the sweet, tangy air.

This easy tour of Palomar's Lower Doane Valley and French Valley is good to explore first. Start walking at the large parking lot at Doane Pond, which is located about two miles beyond the state park entrance. Pick up the Doane Valley Nature Trail, following Doane Creek downstream. Along the bank grow box elder trees, creek dogwood, wild strawberry, mountain currant, and Sierra gooseberry -- uncommon flora for such a southern locale. You sidle by a massive incense-cedar tree towering well over 100 feet, easy enough to mistake as a sequoia redwood.

After 0.3 mile, the nature trail curves and climbs around a hill to connect with Doane Valley Campground. That's the way to go for a quick return, but for a longer (three-mile) walk, stay left and continue on the Weir Trail. Ahead you follow Doane Creek through white fir and incense-cedar forest. Continue to a confluence of streams, where Pauma Creek, flowing lazily at this time of year, sets a course down a hidden canyon toward Pauma Valley -- the valley of the San Luis Rey River.

There's a small weir just below the confluence, plus the remains of a stone-and-mortar gauging station used in the late 1920s to evaluate the hydroelectric potential of the stream. Today, the silted-in dam holds barely enough water to soak your feet in, and the flow of water -- while enchanting to the eyes, ears, and skin -- seems entirely insufficient to turn a turbine and generator.

From the weir, backtrack 0.2 mile on the Weir Trail, and take the short trail on the left that crosses Doane Creek. Hook up with the French Valley Trail and ramble northward into French Valley. The setting is idyllic: rolling grasslands dotted with statuesque pine trees, surrounded by hillsides clothed in oaks and tall conifers.

Several of the tree trunks are riddled with holes -- some plugged with acorns. This is the handiwork of the acorn woodpecker, who uses the holes to store acorns filled with larvae. The birds retrieve these acorns and the grubs in leaner times. Listen for the repetitive, guttural call of this bird, and observe the distinctive red patch on its head and the white wing patch when in flight.

Circle about on French Valley Trail to traverse back across Lower Doane Valley, and head for Doane Valley Campground, which is near your starting point. Return by way of the Doane Valley Nature Trail -- especially if you've managed to obtain an interpretive leaflet for that trail.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Barbara Bry was right about motorized scooters

Todd Gloria was not
Next Article

“My favorite John Waters movie is…”

A quick dissertation on the correlation between organic food intake and jean skinniness

Mile-high Palomar Mountain State Park has probably the finest montane scenery in San Diego County, complete with trickling streams, mixed oak-conifer forests, and rolling meadows. So far, this magnificent spot has managed to evade the reach of catastrophic wildfire. The stomach-churning drive up Palomar's South Grade and East Grade roads is well worth the trouble once you get out of the car and start breathing in the sweet, tangy air.

This easy tour of Palomar's Lower Doane Valley and French Valley is good to explore first. Start walking at the large parking lot at Doane Pond, which is located about two miles beyond the state park entrance. Pick up the Doane Valley Nature Trail, following Doane Creek downstream. Along the bank grow box elder trees, creek dogwood, wild strawberry, mountain currant, and Sierra gooseberry -- uncommon flora for such a southern locale. You sidle by a massive incense-cedar tree towering well over 100 feet, easy enough to mistake as a sequoia redwood.

After 0.3 mile, the nature trail curves and climbs around a hill to connect with Doane Valley Campground. That's the way to go for a quick return, but for a longer (three-mile) walk, stay left and continue on the Weir Trail. Ahead you follow Doane Creek through white fir and incense-cedar forest. Continue to a confluence of streams, where Pauma Creek, flowing lazily at this time of year, sets a course down a hidden canyon toward Pauma Valley -- the valley of the San Luis Rey River.

There's a small weir just below the confluence, plus the remains of a stone-and-mortar gauging station used in the late 1920s to evaluate the hydroelectric potential of the stream. Today, the silted-in dam holds barely enough water to soak your feet in, and the flow of water -- while enchanting to the eyes, ears, and skin -- seems entirely insufficient to turn a turbine and generator.

From the weir, backtrack 0.2 mile on the Weir Trail, and take the short trail on the left that crosses Doane Creek. Hook up with the French Valley Trail and ramble northward into French Valley. The setting is idyllic: rolling grasslands dotted with statuesque pine trees, surrounded by hillsides clothed in oaks and tall conifers.

Several of the tree trunks are riddled with holes -- some plugged with acorns. This is the handiwork of the acorn woodpecker, who uses the holes to store acorns filled with larvae. The birds retrieve these acorns and the grubs in leaner times. Listen for the repetitive, guttural call of this bird, and observe the distinctive red patch on its head and the white wing patch when in flight.

Circle about on French Valley Trail to traverse back across Lower Doane Valley, and head for Doane Valley Campground, which is near your starting point. Return by way of the Doane Valley Nature Trail -- especially if you've managed to obtain an interpretive leaflet for that trail.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Nathan Fletcher, wife Lorena Gonzalez, and Ben Hueso roll in dough

Faulconer turns off police access to hidden cameras
Next Article

Small merchants in San Ysidro suffering

Border businesses hardest hit
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
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
Close