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Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary

Silverwood. The name comes from the glittering effect of sunlight upon the dark-green leaves of the coast live oak. Scores of these trees, some of them two-century-old giants scarred by wildfire, shade the canyon floor at the entrance to the Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary. Owned and managed by the San Diego Audubon Society, the sanctuary preserves 700 acres of flora and fauna indigenous to the foothill region.

Silverwood is open to the public every Sunday (except in August and September, when it is too hot and dry) between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. You’ll find the entrance on the east side of Wildcat Canyon Road at mile 4.8. (Mile markers on Wildcat Canyon Road begin from 0.0 at Mapleview and Ashwood streets in Lakeside. Ashwood becomes Wildcat Canyon Road north of Lakeside.) The map accompanying this article shows Silverwood in relation to the nearby area, which includes several county parks and open-space preserves that may be worth checking out before or after your Silverwood visit.

The 2003 Cedar Fire roared through Silverwood, incinerating all vegetation and all human-made structures on the property. Now, nearly seven years later, many of the coast live oaks have fully recovered, and the chaparral vegetation has returned in force. On a recent visit, ceanothus (wild lilac) shrubs were bursting with lavender-colored blossoms, and bush poppy plants were festooned with hundreds of bright yellow flowers.

The Cedar Fire and subsequent heavy rains took a heavy toll on the intricate trail system that once existed here. Since then, Audubon Society staff and volunteers have been busy renewing the trails, especially in the northern part of the property. When you arrive at the entrance, sign in as a guest, and then stop by the pint-size Frank Gander Nature Education Center nearby. Obtain a copy of the latest trail map, which is periodically updated to reflect newly opened stretches of trail.

For hiking purposes, start walking on the near-level Wright McConnell Trail. Arrive maybe ten minutes later at the manager’s residence, which is surrounded by an observation/interpretive area and a picnic ground with drinking fountain. Just beyond the residence is a small cienaga, or soggy meadow, adorned with spring wildflowers. If you’re up for a two-mile ramble along the rocky ridgeline above, find and follow the Spring and Big Oak trails, which take you sharply uphill to the ridge-running, view-rich Circuit Trail. Use the Circuit Trail to circle broadly north and return to the entrance parking lot. On the Circuit Trail you can spot, off to the east, a rounded granitic dome called “Silverdome” about 500 feet high, half-covered with lichens, mosses, and shrubs. Some geologists believe this to be the largest granite monolith in San Diego County. On the Circuit Trail itself, you cross the so-called “Big Rock Slab,” which has the same texture and vegetation as Silverdome.

This article contains information about a privately owned wilderness area. Trails and pathways are not necessarily marked. Conditions can change rapidly. Hikers should be properly equipped and have safety and navigational skills. The Reader and Jerry Schad assume no responsibility for any adverse experience.

Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary
Explore Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary’s new trails in the rocky hills above Lakeside.
Distance from downtown San Diego: 25 miles
Hiking length: Looping trails of up to 2 miles
Difficulty: Easy to moderately strenuous

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Silverwood. The name comes from the glittering effect of sunlight upon the dark-green leaves of the coast live oak. Scores of these trees, some of them two-century-old giants scarred by wildfire, shade the canyon floor at the entrance to the Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary. Owned and managed by the San Diego Audubon Society, the sanctuary preserves 700 acres of flora and fauna indigenous to the foothill region.

Silverwood is open to the public every Sunday (except in August and September, when it is too hot and dry) between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. You’ll find the entrance on the east side of Wildcat Canyon Road at mile 4.8. (Mile markers on Wildcat Canyon Road begin from 0.0 at Mapleview and Ashwood streets in Lakeside. Ashwood becomes Wildcat Canyon Road north of Lakeside.) The map accompanying this article shows Silverwood in relation to the nearby area, which includes several county parks and open-space preserves that may be worth checking out before or after your Silverwood visit.

The 2003 Cedar Fire roared through Silverwood, incinerating all vegetation and all human-made structures on the property. Now, nearly seven years later, many of the coast live oaks have fully recovered, and the chaparral vegetation has returned in force. On a recent visit, ceanothus (wild lilac) shrubs were bursting with lavender-colored blossoms, and bush poppy plants were festooned with hundreds of bright yellow flowers.

The Cedar Fire and subsequent heavy rains took a heavy toll on the intricate trail system that once existed here. Since then, Audubon Society staff and volunteers have been busy renewing the trails, especially in the northern part of the property. When you arrive at the entrance, sign in as a guest, and then stop by the pint-size Frank Gander Nature Education Center nearby. Obtain a copy of the latest trail map, which is periodically updated to reflect newly opened stretches of trail.

For hiking purposes, start walking on the near-level Wright McConnell Trail. Arrive maybe ten minutes later at the manager’s residence, which is surrounded by an observation/interpretive area and a picnic ground with drinking fountain. Just beyond the residence is a small cienaga, or soggy meadow, adorned with spring wildflowers. If you’re up for a two-mile ramble along the rocky ridgeline above, find and follow the Spring and Big Oak trails, which take you sharply uphill to the ridge-running, view-rich Circuit Trail. Use the Circuit Trail to circle broadly north and return to the entrance parking lot. On the Circuit Trail you can spot, off to the east, a rounded granitic dome called “Silverdome” about 500 feet high, half-covered with lichens, mosses, and shrubs. Some geologists believe this to be the largest granite monolith in San Diego County. On the Circuit Trail itself, you cross the so-called “Big Rock Slab,” which has the same texture and vegetation as Silverdome.

This article contains information about a privately owned wilderness area. Trails and pathways are not necessarily marked. Conditions can change rapidly. Hikers should be properly equipped and have safety and navigational skills. The Reader and Jerry Schad assume no responsibility for any adverse experience.

Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary
Explore Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary’s new trails in the rocky hills above Lakeside.
Distance from downtown San Diego: 25 miles
Hiking length: Looping trails of up to 2 miles
Difficulty: Easy to moderately strenuous

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Comments
2

Aewsome pic!

May 14, 2010

Great post! Thanks for sharing the post, i am very fond of the wildlife century this has been informative for me.

April 13, 2012

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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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