Quantcast
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

Don’t damage the vernal pools in Carmel Mountain Preserve

This loop hike passes through chaparral and coastal sage scrub and has vernal pools in early spring

Carmel Mountain Preserve overlooking Penasquitos Lagoon
Carmel Mountain Preserve overlooking Penasquitos Lagoon

Carmel Mountain Preserve encompasses about 300 acres overlooking Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve with views of the ocean and, in wet springs, the trail passes within close proximity to several small vernal pools. This is generally an easy trail with only a couple of spots that are steep and rocky. It is best to visit in the late winter/early spring months to see the vernal pools.

Concretions (with pen for scale)

From Fairport Way at the kiosk, go up a short hill and take the first trail on the left. At this point, be careful of your footing, as the ground is covered by small marble-sized concretions. Geologically, concretions form after sediments are buried but before the sediment solidifies into solid rock. They typically form when a mineral precipitates and cements sediment around a nucleus, which is often organic, such as a leaf, tooth, or piece of shell. The concretions found at Carmel Mountain Preserve were created by concentric growth. In concentric growth, the concretion grows as successive layers of mineral precipitate around the central core, resulting in roughly spherical concretions. With ongoing erosion of the overlying material, the concretions appear at the surface as the surrounding material erodes away.

Vernal pool in Carmel Mountain Preserve

Shortly, you will come to an area that contains numerous vernal pools. Due to past transgressions, many of the vernal pools in this area have been damaged and are currently being managed to return them to their glory. The trails are mostly lined with cables in this area to remind users to avoid the pools. Remember, even though the pools may be dry later in the season, hiking, biking, and horse riding through them can cause damage. After rains when there is water in the vernal pools, check them out for tadpoles, fairy shrimp, and plants that are endemic to this ecosystem.

Continue along the trail in a westerly direction, past the utility lines, and you will come to a viewpoint over Peñasquitos Lagoon. From here, it’s a very steep descent over the sandstone substrate. After carefully making your way down the slope, follow the trail to the eucalyptus grove. There is a gradual climb through southern maritime chaparral, filled with toyon, lemonade berry, laurel sumac, wild cucumber, and black sage. Walk up through the draw, where the trail slowly transitions through coastal sage scrub habitat. This area is dominated by the white-flowered wart-stem ceanothus (C. verrucosus), prickly pear cactus, and coastal sagebrush. Soon you will return to the original plateau, but almost immediately, there is a trail off to the left that goes to another viewpoint overlooking the lagoon; it is about 0.4 mile over mostly level ground.

Walk back from the viewpoint then go to the left on the utility-line service road that drops then rises abruptly again, going through a small draw. Once back up on level ground, continue until you come to a right turn in the trail. A wide area here offers yet another view, this time looking to the north toward Carmel Valley.

Continuing on the trail, there are several intersections coming up. At the first split, stay straight, avoiding the shortcut trail to the right. At the second intersection, stay to the right and soon you will come to a right bend in the trail and another vernal pool site. At the next intersection, turn right, then keep to the left past three trails to continue south back to the Fairport Way trailhead.

Carmel Mountain Preserve

Map of hiking trials within Carmel Mountain Preserve

Distance from downtown San Diego: 18 miles. Allow 25 minutes driving time. (Carmel Valley). From I-15N, take the “Local bypass” in the Sorrento Valley area. Leave the freeway at exit 32 (Carmel Mountain Road) and turn right on Carmel Mountain Road. Follow it east for 0.4 mile and turn right to stay on Carmel Mountain Road. Follow it another 0.8 mile and turn left on E Ocean Air Drive. Follow it 0.3 mile to Ocean Air Community Park at 4770 Fairport Way (San Diego, 92130). Park either in the first spaces of the community center or turn left at Fairport Way and park near the trailhead just west of the community center.

Hiking length: About 3 miles roundtrip.

Difficulty: Moderate, with 200 feet elevation loss/gain, some areas slippery or steep. Facilities in community center.

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

Previous article

Here's the scoop on Switchfoot's Drive-In Concert June 7

CA's 1st post-pandemic concerts
Next Article

Point Loma: from Madame Tingley to modern-day cavemen

Occupied caves, Sunset Cliffs trash, Liberty Public Market, Maureen O'Connor mansion, The Rock, S.D. Yacht Club, Richard Henry Dana, Portuguese fishermen, Lomaland, gun batteries, lighthouse
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Carmel Mountain Preserve overlooking Penasquitos Lagoon
Carmel Mountain Preserve overlooking Penasquitos Lagoon

Carmel Mountain Preserve encompasses about 300 acres overlooking Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve with views of the ocean and, in wet springs, the trail passes within close proximity to several small vernal pools. This is generally an easy trail with only a couple of spots that are steep and rocky. It is best to visit in the late winter/early spring months to see the vernal pools.

Concretions (with pen for scale)

From Fairport Way at the kiosk, go up a short hill and take the first trail on the left. At this point, be careful of your footing, as the ground is covered by small marble-sized concretions. Geologically, concretions form after sediments are buried but before the sediment solidifies into solid rock. They typically form when a mineral precipitates and cements sediment around a nucleus, which is often organic, such as a leaf, tooth, or piece of shell. The concretions found at Carmel Mountain Preserve were created by concentric growth. In concentric growth, the concretion grows as successive layers of mineral precipitate around the central core, resulting in roughly spherical concretions. With ongoing erosion of the overlying material, the concretions appear at the surface as the surrounding material erodes away.

Vernal pool in Carmel Mountain Preserve

Shortly, you will come to an area that contains numerous vernal pools. Due to past transgressions, many of the vernal pools in this area have been damaged and are currently being managed to return them to their glory. The trails are mostly lined with cables in this area to remind users to avoid the pools. Remember, even though the pools may be dry later in the season, hiking, biking, and horse riding through them can cause damage. After rains when there is water in the vernal pools, check them out for tadpoles, fairy shrimp, and plants that are endemic to this ecosystem.

Continue along the trail in a westerly direction, past the utility lines, and you will come to a viewpoint over Peñasquitos Lagoon. From here, it’s a very steep descent over the sandstone substrate. After carefully making your way down the slope, follow the trail to the eucalyptus grove. There is a gradual climb through southern maritime chaparral, filled with toyon, lemonade berry, laurel sumac, wild cucumber, and black sage. Walk up through the draw, where the trail slowly transitions through coastal sage scrub habitat. This area is dominated by the white-flowered wart-stem ceanothus (C. verrucosus), prickly pear cactus, and coastal sagebrush. Soon you will return to the original plateau, but almost immediately, there is a trail off to the left that goes to another viewpoint overlooking the lagoon; it is about 0.4 mile over mostly level ground.

Walk back from the viewpoint then go to the left on the utility-line service road that drops then rises abruptly again, going through a small draw. Once back up on level ground, continue until you come to a right turn in the trail. A wide area here offers yet another view, this time looking to the north toward Carmel Valley.

Continuing on the trail, there are several intersections coming up. At the first split, stay straight, avoiding the shortcut trail to the right. At the second intersection, stay to the right and soon you will come to a right bend in the trail and another vernal pool site. At the next intersection, turn right, then keep to the left past three trails to continue south back to the Fairport Way trailhead.

Carmel Mountain Preserve

Map of hiking trials within Carmel Mountain Preserve

Distance from downtown San Diego: 18 miles. Allow 25 minutes driving time. (Carmel Valley). From I-15N, take the “Local bypass” in the Sorrento Valley area. Leave the freeway at exit 32 (Carmel Mountain Road) and turn right on Carmel Mountain Road. Follow it east for 0.4 mile and turn right to stay on Carmel Mountain Road. Follow it another 0.8 mile and turn left on E Ocean Air Drive. Follow it 0.3 mile to Ocean Air Community Park at 4770 Fairport Way (San Diego, 92130). Park either in the first spaces of the community center or turn left at Fairport Way and park near the trailhead just west of the community center.

Hiking length: About 3 miles roundtrip.

Difficulty: Moderate, with 200 feet elevation loss/gain, some areas slippery or steep. Facilities in community center.

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

Here's the scoop on Switchfoot's Drive-In Concert June 7

CA's 1st post-pandemic concerts
Next Article

After a weekend of unrest, lunch at El Chingon

Protests and police clashes add new twist to post-pandemic dining
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 News — 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