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Lake Ramona via Lake Poway

Hike from lake to lake while passing through shady oak woodlands and lush chaparral.

Start at Lake Poway, end up at Lake Ramona. In between, enjoy chaparral oak woodland habitats and, on a clear day, views of the Pacific.
Start at Lake Poway, end up at Lake Ramona. In between, enjoy chaparral oak woodland habitats and, on a clear day, views of the Pacific.
Place

Lake Poway Recreation Area

14644 Lake Poway Road, Poway

Lake Poway Recreation Area is a convenient starting point since it provides abundant free parking during much of the year. The lake also provides numerous additional recreational opportunities. The hike to Lake Ramona offers a variety of habitats, including shady oak woodlands and chaparral, a great ocean view; one can see a peak at San Clemente Island if visibility is clear. The trails are all heavily used and well signed, making navigation easy with the view of Lake Ramona dam as well as much of the trail visible from Lake Poway.

Map of Lake Ramona via Lake Poway

Find the Lake Poway Trail entrance on the left side of the landscaping building and head north. The trail completely circles Lake Poway, but you will be on it for less than a mile as it winds up and over a hill northwest of the lake and down the front side of the dam. At 0.87 mile from the parking lot, the trail forks. The circumferential Lake Poway Trail continues to the right. A sign indicates that Lake Ramona is 2 miles ahead, following the trail to the left. This trail, which is actually a dirt road (but with no motorized vehicles allowed), follows an oak-forested canyon and will shortly join the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve Trail, also a dirt road. Before reaching this junction, you will pass what was once the Lake Poway Campground. Camping is no longer permitted here, but it is an attractive well-maintained area, set in a dense coast live-oak forest, with picnic tables, running water, and toilet facilities.

The hike continues near or through the oak woodland as you go north to the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve trail (labeled on many maps as the Green Valley Truck Trail). Once you reach this trail, go right (east). In addition to the live oaks, the forest blends with a lush riparian habitat and includes California sycamores, arroyo willows, mule fat Baccharis, and, of course, abundant poison oak. In another quarter of a mile is a signed junction. The road to the right leads to a pumping station and is closed to the public. Take the trail to the left. From this point, it is 1.2 miles to Lake Ramona, up a steep but well-graded dirt road. Lake Ramona offers few recreational opportunities other than fishing from the shore — in season and with a license — but the view to the west is outstanding. San Clemente Island can be seen on the clearest days. After exploring the lake and enjoying the view, return to Lake Poway the way you came.

Distance from downtown San Diego: Approximately 28 miles. Take SR-163N and merge onto I-15 to Rancho Bernardo Rd. Take Rancho Bernardo exit east, which becomes Espola Rd. in Poway. Turn left on Lake Poway Road and go east less than 1 mile to the entrance of the recreation area. Park in the northeast lot, near the landscaping building.

Hiking length: 5.6 miles round trip.

Difficulty: Moderate with elevation gain/loss of 1750 ft. Facilities and potable water. Park hours are from 6:00 a.m. to sunset. Parking fee in summer.

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Start at Lake Poway, end up at Lake Ramona. In between, enjoy chaparral oak woodland habitats and, on a clear day, views of the Pacific.
Start at Lake Poway, end up at Lake Ramona. In between, enjoy chaparral oak woodland habitats and, on a clear day, views of the Pacific.
Place

Lake Poway Recreation Area

14644 Lake Poway Road, Poway

Lake Poway Recreation Area is a convenient starting point since it provides abundant free parking during much of the year. The lake also provides numerous additional recreational opportunities. The hike to Lake Ramona offers a variety of habitats, including shady oak woodlands and chaparral, a great ocean view; one can see a peak at San Clemente Island if visibility is clear. The trails are all heavily used and well signed, making navigation easy with the view of Lake Ramona dam as well as much of the trail visible from Lake Poway.

Map of Lake Ramona via Lake Poway

Find the Lake Poway Trail entrance on the left side of the landscaping building and head north. The trail completely circles Lake Poway, but you will be on it for less than a mile as it winds up and over a hill northwest of the lake and down the front side of the dam. At 0.87 mile from the parking lot, the trail forks. The circumferential Lake Poway Trail continues to the right. A sign indicates that Lake Ramona is 2 miles ahead, following the trail to the left. This trail, which is actually a dirt road (but with no motorized vehicles allowed), follows an oak-forested canyon and will shortly join the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve Trail, also a dirt road. Before reaching this junction, you will pass what was once the Lake Poway Campground. Camping is no longer permitted here, but it is an attractive well-maintained area, set in a dense coast live-oak forest, with picnic tables, running water, and toilet facilities.

The hike continues near or through the oak woodland as you go north to the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve trail (labeled on many maps as the Green Valley Truck Trail). Once you reach this trail, go right (east). In addition to the live oaks, the forest blends with a lush riparian habitat and includes California sycamores, arroyo willows, mule fat Baccharis, and, of course, abundant poison oak. In another quarter of a mile is a signed junction. The road to the right leads to a pumping station and is closed to the public. Take the trail to the left. From this point, it is 1.2 miles to Lake Ramona, up a steep but well-graded dirt road. Lake Ramona offers few recreational opportunities other than fishing from the shore — in season and with a license — but the view to the west is outstanding. San Clemente Island can be seen on the clearest days. After exploring the lake and enjoying the view, return to Lake Poway the way you came.

Distance from downtown San Diego: Approximately 28 miles. Take SR-163N and merge onto I-15 to Rancho Bernardo Rd. Take Rancho Bernardo exit east, which becomes Espola Rd. in Poway. Turn left on Lake Poway Road and go east less than 1 mile to the entrance of the recreation area. Park in the northeast lot, near the landscaping building.

Hiking length: 5.6 miles round trip.

Difficulty: Moderate with elevation gain/loss of 1750 ft. Facilities and potable water. Park hours are from 6:00 a.m. to sunset. Parking fee in summer.

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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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