A quaint caretaker’s cottage and roaming peacocks are among the sights to be seen as one strolls the four miles of trails on and around the Carrillo ranch.
6200 Flying Leo Carrillo Lane, Carlsbad
Leo Carrillo, a well-known film and television actor during the middle of the last century, had deep roots in Alta California. He was the great-great grandson of José Raimundo Carrillo, one of the original Spanish settlers of San Diego and a member of the 1769 Portolá Expedition. In 1937, Carrillo purchased 1700 acres that had been part of the original Spanish land grant given to Juan Marron, known as Rancho Agua Hedionda, and now a major part of the City of Carlsbad. Between 1937 and 1939, Carrillo built a large hacienda, carriage house, and barn, as well as a deep pool with a white sand beach and a cantina on his newly acquired property. Eventually Carrillo’s Rancho de los Quiotes, as it was called, became a mecca for Hollywood actors and other notables, but it was also a working cattle ranch that ultimately included over 2500 acres. Carrillo died in 1961 and over the years much of the ranch land was sold off for development. However, 27 acres, containing most of the historic buildings, were acquired by the City of Carlsbad and are now the Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park. The ranch is a designated Historic National Landmark that was opened to the public in August 2003. The buildings and grounds have been or are being beautifully restored or preserved. The roads and trails connecting the historic buildings and parts of the ranchlands are now incorporated into the Carlsbad trail system. It has become a great place to learn about the area history and to get some exercise on the trails.
Approximately four miles of trails are available for easy hiking through the open space around the historic park. The city hiking trails are connected to those within the park and are open for hiking even when the park is closed. A high wall surrounds the 27-acre historic park. Peacocks patrol the grounds while its roads and trails are lined with blue agave, Pyracantha, eucalyptus, and Peruvian pepper trees. The city trails leading from and around the historic park are on both sides of an intermittent stream containing an abundance of native sycamores, willows, and a few oaks, and also many non-native, invasive species such as the giant reed, Arundo, and the pampas grass, Cortaderia. Clearly, this is not pristine native California habitat, but it is a pleasant place to walk, particularly if you can incorporate your hike on the city trails with a visit to the historic park.
The park is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (closed on Mondays). Guided tours are given on weekends at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., but to make sure, call 760-476-1042 to verify these times before your visit if you want to take a tour.
Distance from downtown San Diego: 35 miles. Allow 45 minutes. From I-5, exit at Palomar Airport Road and drive east to Melrose Ave. Turn right on Melrose and travel south to Carrillo Way, make a right on Carrillo Way, then right again on Flying Carrillo Ln.
Hiking length: Approximately 4 miles with access to other city trails.
Difficulty: Easy with elevation change dependent on trails taken.