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

Views of wildfire recovery

See how it grows on the once-scorched Pine Ridge Trail

New growth surrounds fire-blackened stems.
New growth surrounds fire-blackened stems.
Downed tree on Pine Ridge Trail

The Pine Ridge Trail has some delightful views of the Cuyamaca Mountains and the Sweetwater River watershed as it nearly reaches the crest of the ridge at an elevation of 4573 feet. There is much of interest year round in the near wilderness, where there can be an abundance of wildflowers, depending on amount of rainfall and the season. The Green Valley Campground is a central location for a number of hikes if there is an opportunity for an extended visit with campsites set in among mature live oaks, Jeffrey and Coulter pines and, if water is flowing in the Sweetwater River, there is added interest, especially at the falls (see column on Green Valley Falls Loop, July 31, 2013).

South view, Pine Ridge Trail

To extend the hike mileage approximately another 3 miles and close to 500 feet elevation, park your vehicle in the large parking lot on the east side of SR-79N, where there are three entrances to the lot just before the bridge that crosses Sweetwater River. If starting from this location, carefully cross to the west side of SR-79, where, just north of the bridge, it is a very short distance to the West Side Trail. Turn south and continue past the Monument Trail (see Airplane Monument column, October 23, 2013) until passing the Arroyo Seco Picnic area amphitheater to the fire road.

Begin the 3.3-mile loop Pine Ridge loop just north of the Arroyo Seco Picnic parking area near the kiosk by the restrooms. Walk north on the Arroyo Seco Fire road for 0.8 mile, then west on South Boundary Fire Road (also signed as a California Riding and Hiking Trail) for 0.1 mile before turning south on Pine Ridge Trail for 2.1 miles until it ends between campsites 37 and 38.

Oak woodland and riparian growth along the Sweetwater River, Pine Ridge Trail

Despite the name of the trail, there is no evidence that Coulter pines or any other pine lived on the ridge, now or before the wildfire. In fact, the first Coulter pine seedlings do not make an appearance until the trail begins to climb on the slope. At this point, black oaks as well as an occasional patch of more mature pines that were not killed by the fire become visible. Be sure to pause for the views of the back trail, valleys, and peaks that include Japacha and Cuyamaca Peaks to the north.

Live oaks and coulter pines along Arroyo Seco fire road, Pine Ridge Trail

The area is still recovering from wildfire, so the blackened stems of fire-killed shrubs are apparent, but there is almost complete coverage of the soil with new, living, burl-sprouted and seedling Eastwood’s manzanita, Palmer lilac, chamise, scrub oak, sugar bush, and bush rue.

Pine Ridge Trail

Other typical montane chaparral plants to look for while following the trail are the numerous wildflowers that may be in bloom, depending on the season and recent rainfall. These include Nuttall’s snapdragon, slender buckwheat, Parry’s phacelia, California everlasting, Parish’s goldenbush, scarlet bugler, the Humboldt lily, mariposa lily, and chaparral bush mallow.

Follow the paved campground road to the east then north once leaving the Pine Ridge trailhead between campsites 37 and 38. Continue on the road back to the Arroyo Seco Picnic parking area to complete the loop. If parked at the Sweetwater Bridge lot, return via the West Side Trail, turning right north of the bridge.


Distance from downtown San Diego: 47 miles. Allow 60 minutes driving time (Green Valley Campground or Sweetwater Bridge parking lot). From I-8, exit on SR-79/Japatul Valley Rd., turn north on SR-79, and drive 7 miles, turning west into the campground and following the signs to the Arroyo Seco picnic area (day-use fee) or continuing another 0.6 mile to the Sweetwater Bridge lot and park (no day-use fee).

Hiking length: 3.3-mile loop or 6.2 miles.

Difficulty: Easy/moderate with 500 feet of elevation gain/loss over well-maintained trails and dirt fire roads. Parking at Sweetwater bridge adds up to 500 feet of elevation gain. Facilities at both locations with water only in the campground. No dogs, mountain bikes, or horses are allowed on the trail. However, horses and mountain bikes are allowed on the Arroyo Seco Fire Road, which is used on the return leg of this hike.

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

Previous article

Spoiled Vegans Cafe, on the cusp of everything

Former pop up plants stakes in East Village with breakfast sandwiches and waffles
Next Article

Pony Death Ride: the Unthemed theme

Bringing a little holiday cheer to people who like weirdo-sarcastic musical comedy
New growth surrounds fire-blackened stems.
New growth surrounds fire-blackened stems.
Downed tree on Pine Ridge Trail

The Pine Ridge Trail has some delightful views of the Cuyamaca Mountains and the Sweetwater River watershed as it nearly reaches the crest of the ridge at an elevation of 4573 feet. There is much of interest year round in the near wilderness, where there can be an abundance of wildflowers, depending on amount of rainfall and the season. The Green Valley Campground is a central location for a number of hikes if there is an opportunity for an extended visit with campsites set in among mature live oaks, Jeffrey and Coulter pines and, if water is flowing in the Sweetwater River, there is added interest, especially at the falls (see column on Green Valley Falls Loop, July 31, 2013).

South view, Pine Ridge Trail

To extend the hike mileage approximately another 3 miles and close to 500 feet elevation, park your vehicle in the large parking lot on the east side of SR-79N, where there are three entrances to the lot just before the bridge that crosses Sweetwater River. If starting from this location, carefully cross to the west side of SR-79, where, just north of the bridge, it is a very short distance to the West Side Trail. Turn south and continue past the Monument Trail (see Airplane Monument column, October 23, 2013) until passing the Arroyo Seco Picnic area amphitheater to the fire road.

Begin the 3.3-mile loop Pine Ridge loop just north of the Arroyo Seco Picnic parking area near the kiosk by the restrooms. Walk north on the Arroyo Seco Fire road for 0.8 mile, then west on South Boundary Fire Road (also signed as a California Riding and Hiking Trail) for 0.1 mile before turning south on Pine Ridge Trail for 2.1 miles until it ends between campsites 37 and 38.

Oak woodland and riparian growth along the Sweetwater River, Pine Ridge Trail

Despite the name of the trail, there is no evidence that Coulter pines or any other pine lived on the ridge, now or before the wildfire. In fact, the first Coulter pine seedlings do not make an appearance until the trail begins to climb on the slope. At this point, black oaks as well as an occasional patch of more mature pines that were not killed by the fire become visible. Be sure to pause for the views of the back trail, valleys, and peaks that include Japacha and Cuyamaca Peaks to the north.

Live oaks and coulter pines along Arroyo Seco fire road, Pine Ridge Trail

The area is still recovering from wildfire, so the blackened stems of fire-killed shrubs are apparent, but there is almost complete coverage of the soil with new, living, burl-sprouted and seedling Eastwood’s manzanita, Palmer lilac, chamise, scrub oak, sugar bush, and bush rue.

Pine Ridge Trail

Other typical montane chaparral plants to look for while following the trail are the numerous wildflowers that may be in bloom, depending on the season and recent rainfall. These include Nuttall’s snapdragon, slender buckwheat, Parry’s phacelia, California everlasting, Parish’s goldenbush, scarlet bugler, the Humboldt lily, mariposa lily, and chaparral bush mallow.

Follow the paved campground road to the east then north once leaving the Pine Ridge trailhead between campsites 37 and 38. Continue on the road back to the Arroyo Seco Picnic parking area to complete the loop. If parked at the Sweetwater Bridge lot, return via the West Side Trail, turning right north of the bridge.


Distance from downtown San Diego: 47 miles. Allow 60 minutes driving time (Green Valley Campground or Sweetwater Bridge parking lot). From I-8, exit on SR-79/Japatul Valley Rd., turn north on SR-79, and drive 7 miles, turning west into the campground and following the signs to the Arroyo Seco picnic area (day-use fee) or continuing another 0.6 mile to the Sweetwater Bridge lot and park (no day-use fee).

Hiking length: 3.3-mile loop or 6.2 miles.

Difficulty: Easy/moderate with 500 feet of elevation gain/loss over well-maintained trails and dirt fire roads. Parking at Sweetwater bridge adds up to 500 feet of elevation gain. Facilities at both locations with water only in the campground. No dogs, mountain bikes, or horses are allowed on the trail. However, horses and mountain bikes are allowed on the Arroyo Seco Fire Road, which is used on the return leg of this hike.

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

Prickles of pepper at Gaslamp Breakfast Company

San Diego is a breakfast city
Next Article

Building Rancho Santa Fe mansion, Ramona grasslands, the Coaster's pluses and minuses

Harrowing Wildcat Canyon, importance of avocados, the scandal of Torrey Pines' bridge
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