Anchor ads are not supported on this page.

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

Always something amazing in Wright’s Field Preserve

Never judge a book by its cover, nor a field by the smattering of grasses that you see

Wright’s Field Preserve trail
Wright’s Field Preserve trail

The trails along the Wright’s Field Preserve are the perfect spot to walk the family dog, go jogging, or just take a stroll on a Sunday afternoon. Historically, this area was critical to the early rancheros whose cattle could not survive on the native chaparral. Today, the “Mesa del Arroz” or “Grassy Mesa” as it was once called, is one of the best examples of native California grassland habitat in the state.

Wright’s Field is a fabulous natural beauty for anyone living near it; however, it is an especially wonderful gem as a living classroom for the students at Joan MacQueen Middle School, which shares a border with the preserve. Trips to the preserve are common by teachers and students for habitat study and inspiration. The largest distinct habitat in the 230-acre preserve is grassland made up of a mixture of native bunchgrass and non-natives such as wild oats and filaree.

Wright’s Field Preserve trail map

From the trailhead near Joan Macqueen Middle School, visitors are greeted with a variety of path choices that will lead them through several distinct native California habitats including grasslands, oak woodlands, sage scrub, and vernal pools. The longest trail follows the field’s perimeter and is just shy of three miles. Shorter trails crisscross the field in all directions; however, visitors will need to be watchful for poison oak, which can be found throughout the preserve. Western poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) is deciduous, losing its leaves in autumn then appearing as a leafless twig throughout the winter. Heading northeast from the trailhead, visitors can take the Engelmann loop, which will allow them to see the trail’s namesake, the Engelmann oak (Quercus engelmannii), up close. Also known as the Pasadena oak, these gorgeous trees have blue-green leaves and are drought deciduous. Once abundant throughout Southern California, the Engelmann oak has been on the decline since the early 1900s due to urbanization and farming. At the top of the mesa, the Engelmann forms an oak woodland in a small grove surrounded by granitic boulders.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Covering the granitic boulders all along the mesa is a colorful varnish of reds, greens, and blues. This alien-looking growth is called lichen. It is a symbiotic life form made up of algae and fungus and is a natural litmus test for good air quality.

Poison oak

Due to the years of grazing and modernization, a less clearly defined habitat is the sections of sage scrub. The plant species commonly found within these patches include California sagebrush, buckwheat, white sage, coyote bush, deer weed, and a variety of wildflowers. A little further north of the mesa, visitors will discover an arroyo fed by seasonal rain. The dry streambed is lined by oak, pine, laurel sumac, and toyon. However, the true gems relying on the seasonal rain, and hidden among the grasses, are the vernal pools. These ephemeral low spots fill quickly when the rain returns and can persist for weeks after it stops. The pools, formed due to the underlying hard bedrock and thick layers of clay, provide a unique habitat for a host of species only found in Southern California — creatures like fairy shrimp and the spadefoot toad.

The best time to view the pools is in spring, especially in years with heavy rain, but any time is a good time to visit the preserve as there will always be something amazing to experience.

The view over Wright's Field

Wright’s Field Preserve

Distance from downtown San Diego: Approximately 30 miles. Allow 45 minutes driving time (Alpine). From I-8 east, exit south onto Tavern Road. Continue south along Tavern Road until you reach the Joan MacQueen Middle School. The trailhead is just north of the middle school at the end of an unnamed private drive. Parking near the school is limited and not allowed along the private drive. Another parking option is to continue past the school until S Grade Road, turn east for 1.23 miles, and park along the street. Wright’s Field is to the west across the street. Do not pass Calle de Compadres.

Hiking length: 3-mile loop along the outer perimeter.

Difficulty: Easy, elevation gain/loss 100 feet. Dogs are allowed on leashes. Trail riding on horseback and mountain bikes is also allowed, but no off-trail excursions are permitted. No facilities.

The latest copy of the Reader

Please enjoy this clickable Reader flipbook. Linked text and ads are flash-highlighted in blue for your convenience. To enhance your viewing, please open full screen mode by clicking the icon on the far right of the black flipbook toolbar.

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

Del Mar Beer Fest, Shark Summer at Birch Aquarium

Events July 21-July 24, 2024
Wright’s Field Preserve trail
Wright’s Field Preserve trail

The trails along the Wright’s Field Preserve are the perfect spot to walk the family dog, go jogging, or just take a stroll on a Sunday afternoon. Historically, this area was critical to the early rancheros whose cattle could not survive on the native chaparral. Today, the “Mesa del Arroz” or “Grassy Mesa” as it was once called, is one of the best examples of native California grassland habitat in the state.

Wright’s Field is a fabulous natural beauty for anyone living near it; however, it is an especially wonderful gem as a living classroom for the students at Joan MacQueen Middle School, which shares a border with the preserve. Trips to the preserve are common by teachers and students for habitat study and inspiration. The largest distinct habitat in the 230-acre preserve is grassland made up of a mixture of native bunchgrass and non-natives such as wild oats and filaree.

Wright’s Field Preserve trail map

From the trailhead near Joan Macqueen Middle School, visitors are greeted with a variety of path choices that will lead them through several distinct native California habitats including grasslands, oak woodlands, sage scrub, and vernal pools. The longest trail follows the field’s perimeter and is just shy of three miles. Shorter trails crisscross the field in all directions; however, visitors will need to be watchful for poison oak, which can be found throughout the preserve. Western poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) is deciduous, losing its leaves in autumn then appearing as a leafless twig throughout the winter. Heading northeast from the trailhead, visitors can take the Engelmann loop, which will allow them to see the trail’s namesake, the Engelmann oak (Quercus engelmannii), up close. Also known as the Pasadena oak, these gorgeous trees have blue-green leaves and are drought deciduous. Once abundant throughout Southern California, the Engelmann oak has been on the decline since the early 1900s due to urbanization and farming. At the top of the mesa, the Engelmann forms an oak woodland in a small grove surrounded by granitic boulders.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Covering the granitic boulders all along the mesa is a colorful varnish of reds, greens, and blues. This alien-looking growth is called lichen. It is a symbiotic life form made up of algae and fungus and is a natural litmus test for good air quality.

Poison oak

Due to the years of grazing and modernization, a less clearly defined habitat is the sections of sage scrub. The plant species commonly found within these patches include California sagebrush, buckwheat, white sage, coyote bush, deer weed, and a variety of wildflowers. A little further north of the mesa, visitors will discover an arroyo fed by seasonal rain. The dry streambed is lined by oak, pine, laurel sumac, and toyon. However, the true gems relying on the seasonal rain, and hidden among the grasses, are the vernal pools. These ephemeral low spots fill quickly when the rain returns and can persist for weeks after it stops. The pools, formed due to the underlying hard bedrock and thick layers of clay, provide a unique habitat for a host of species only found in Southern California — creatures like fairy shrimp and the spadefoot toad.

The best time to view the pools is in spring, especially in years with heavy rain, but any time is a good time to visit the preserve as there will always be something amazing to experience.

The view over Wright's Field

Wright’s Field Preserve

Distance from downtown San Diego: Approximately 30 miles. Allow 45 minutes driving time (Alpine). From I-8 east, exit south onto Tavern Road. Continue south along Tavern Road until you reach the Joan MacQueen Middle School. The trailhead is just north of the middle school at the end of an unnamed private drive. Parking near the school is limited and not allowed along the private drive. Another parking option is to continue past the school until S Grade Road, turn east for 1.23 miles, and park along the street. Wright’s Field is to the west across the street. Do not pass Calle de Compadres.

Hiking length: 3-mile loop along the outer perimeter.

Difficulty: Easy, elevation gain/loss 100 feet. Dogs are allowed on leashes. Trail riding on horseback and mountain bikes is also allowed, but no off-trail excursions are permitted. No facilities.

Comments
Sponsored

The latest copy of the Reader

Please enjoy this clickable Reader flipbook. Linked text and ads are flash-highlighted in blue for your convenience. To enhance your viewing, please open full screen mode by clicking the icon on the far right of the black flipbook toolbar.

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

Swimmer who braved French river bails during Imperial Beach stunt

In-Seine, But Not Crazy
Next Article

A taste of America on the other side of the world

Diner’s owners once drove Route 66
Comments
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox Movies@Home — 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 Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new 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 Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week 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 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

Anchor ads are not supported on this page.