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Stories by The Canyoneers

Dome on the range

Relax in the shaded hollow of an ancient sand dune

The Coyote Mountains are part of a larger area known as the Colorado region of the Sonoran Desert. Here two plates meet, the Pacific Plate to the west and the North American Plate to the ...

Rough beauty on Ocotillo Ridge

What is the difference between a thorn and a spine?

Three geothermal natural springs once flowed freely from the northern face of the Tierra Blanca Mountains, creating a desert oasis that was known to the Kumeyaay people. The abundant water now fills swimming pools and ...

The Canyoneers walk two cleaned-up canyons

Flourishing, accessible native habitats in an urban setting

Manzanita and Hollywood Canyons demonstrate the ability of nature to thrive in disturbed areas and neighborhoods. Not only are these canyons necessary habitats for native flora and fauna, they also act as windows into San ...

There are more than 30 palms at 17 Palms Oasis

No doubt it had 17 palms when first named

Seventeen Palms Oasis is one of the popular places to visit in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. It has been a desert watering stop for over 100 years. A good way to experience early desert travel ...

It's called Goat Peak for a reason

Some critters have an easier time on rocky slopes than others

Nestled into a quiet neighborhood at the eastern fringes of Poway is a hiking trail that goes through the riparian habitat of Poway Creek, rises steeply up into chaparral slopes, and culminates at a panoramic ...

A biological and geological wonder awaits

Take a hike through one of the largest remaining wetlands in Southern California

The San Elijo Ecological Reserve protects one of the largest remaining wetlands in Southern California, as well as the bordering hills containing beautiful stands of maritime chaparral and coastal sage scrub. The La Orilla Trail ...

Morse's marvelous meeting place

Everything is designed to bring people together in this delightful natural setting

Alta Vista Botanical Gardens was designed and largely constructed by the environmental artist and contractor Bryan Morse, as well as by a host of dedicated volunteers. It is a work in progress and completely dependent ...

Lost meaning in Smugglers Canyon

Maybe the pictographs were used in female initiation ceremonies

After parking at the Pictograph Trail trailhead, begin your hike by heading east up the well-marked Pictograph Trail. Be sure to take a moment to read the informational kiosk so you understand the importance and ...

Beware Heart Attack Hill

But look for remnants of the Harper cabin

In the early 1900s, cattleman brothers Julius and Amby Harper, who had a family ranch with their father in Rattlesnake Valley in the Cuyamacas, discovered a large, gently-sloping valley in the Pinyon Mountains while looking ...

Ghost flower tricks bugs

A little surprise awaits you in Little Surprise Canyon

According to former State Park Superintendent Mark Jorgensen, this canyon “is a surprise during good wildflower seasons and holds many species of blooming plants in its shady confines.” It is the canyon commonly recommended for ...

Don't even think about hiking there

Carlsbad's Ridgeline Trail is ok, though

The Ridgeline Trail is a highly scenic trail through native chaparral and coastal sage scrub habitat. It has inspiring views of the Batiquitos Lagoon and the Pacific beyond as it takes you along a ridge ...

Easy trail near a tough golf course in Carlsbad

Golf-course trail connects to undeveloped habitats and parklands

The Crossings at Carlsbad Golf Course was designed by Greg Nash with the preservation of habitat and the city’s trail system being an important consideration in creating a challenging course. The holes for this city-owned ...

Elsinore Fault Zone’s tectonic forces in play

Sweeney Wash and Canyon is located in the Elsinore Fault Zone. Look forward to viewing twisted and turned pegmatite dikes along this hike that reflect Cretaceous tectonic forces in play. The wash may be part ...

Kit Carson Park: where organized activities meet open space

Hike includes internationally know sculpture garden

Something for everyone in Escondido (especially on weekends and holidays).

Three short hikes in high part of Anza Borrego

No wonder the Kumeyaay liked Culp Valley

At an elevation of 3400 feet, Culp Valley not only provides relief from scorching desert temperatures in the months when it is too hot to hike at lower elevations in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, but ...

All this for roofing granules, poultry grit

Hike to West Dolomite Mine Peak to see interesting damage in the Coyote Mountains

The main feature of this hike is the mine and its ruins, which is interesting to explore. It is a prime example of an open-pit strip mine (now closed off). The owners, Fred Elliott, Mrs. ...

Up close to vernal pools

Water's End Rail Trail in Carlsbad

The Coastal Rail Trail is projected to become a continuous path following the Coaster commuter train line from Oceanside to San Diego. As of 2017, only discontinuous segments exist. The Water’s End Trail in Carlsbad ...

How the least tern was rescued at Batiquitos Lagoon

See what restoration can do

The North Bluff Trail is on a coastal plateau at an elevation of 60 to 100 feet above sea level, overlooking the Batiquitos Lagoon. The plateau once was almost entirely covered by coastal sage scrub ...

Link two trails in La Costa, get a four-mile hike

Experience different habitats on La Costa Valley and La Costa Glen trails

La Costa Valley and La Costa Glen are Carlsbad City trails that are near each other and relatively short. They are within or in close proximity to similar riparian and coastal chaparral/sage scrub habitats, but ...

Eucalyptus Trail — between backyards and Batiquitos Lagoon

Leafless does not mean dead

Start hiking up the short, steep trail through somewhat degraded coastal sage scrub habitat. If making this journey after a long rainless summer, many of the shrubs will be leafless or nearly so. They are ...

Damon Lane County Park’s thick slice of riparian habitat

Beauty in spite of eucalyptus

Tucked discreetly into a Rancho San Diego neighborhood and unknown to many is a 29-acre county park that offers a shady retreat in the form of eucalyptus groves towering above a year-round creek. Several short ...

Best way to see Sandstone Canyon, Red Narrows, and Mud Palisades

A delightful surprise in the Anza-Borrego

Hike up to a spectacular red narrow gorge at the head of June Wash on the ridge of Whale Peak.

The old ranches of Borrego

The Bailey cabin, the Campbell Ranch, the trap for cowbirds

The old Vallecito Ranch is now part of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and has been designated a preserve known as Hawi-Vallecito Cultural Preserve. Hawi is Kumeyaay for “the place where tules grow” and vallecito is ...

Ride your bike around Borrego's prehistoric sculptures

And stay for the stars

Borrego Springs is the unincorporated town in San Diego’s desert area surrounded by Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. It is an official International Dark Sky Community where you can really see the stars at night. Borrego ...

Stay on the Anderson Canyon trail

Watch for beetles, ants, and our friend the Torrey pine

Del Mar Canyon Preserve, sometimes alternatively known as Anderson Canyon, has two of the best elements of San Diego County hikes: stunning views and unique biodiversity. The trail is short and easy, but take time ...

Gaze at oaks from your business park

There are scrub oaks and there are scrub oaks

The trailhead is south of the parking area, on the east side of El Fuerte. To reach it, walk about 0.1 mile up the sidewalk to the sign pointing to the trail going east. The ...

The pull-apart basin

Best way to see Canyon Sin Nombre is on foot

Canyon Sin Nombre is located in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, an area known for its driving tectonic forces and awe-inspiring geologic structures. Geologists refer to this region as the Salton Trough, as it is ...

Wonders of the Tijuana Estuary

Goldenbush, lemonadeberry, pickleweed, buckwheat, sagebrush, and 398 kinds of birds

The Tijuana River Estuary is unique in California as the only estuary that does not have a road, railway crossing, or bridge across the river mouth. The salt-marsh estuary has remained connected to the sea. ...

Natives under your nose

Half-acre of Old Town reclaimed for lemonadeberry and hummingbirds

A half-acre of Old Town State Historic Park, located at the junction of Taylor and Congress streets, is a native plant landscape that focuses on coastal native plant restoration. The San Diego Chapter of the ...

A lesson in pine cones

San Jacinto Peak in neighbor Riverside County

Mount San Jacinto State Park in neighboring Riverside County has plenty of hiking trails to satisfy those looking for a full-day adventure within a mountain setting. The hike to San Jacinto Summit (10,834 feet) is ...

Bankers Hill studded with local history

The suspension bridges, the houses by Gill, Requa, and William Templeton Johnson

To the north above downtown and east above the airport rises Bankers Hill. Literally “uptown,” Bankers Hill is characterized by historic homes and modern development. Landscaping and non-native plants are found in the canyons that ...

Sneak glimpse of Devil's Jumpoff

From old fire road east of Ramona

Just east of Ramona in a section of the Cleveland National Forest, one can hike high above the San Diego River Watershed along an old fire road to a dramatic viewpoint overlooking Dye Canyon, where ...

Walk along Rattlesnake Creek shade trees

Close to railroad and farmers market

Poway has 55 miles of trails and other options that are not designated as trails but still are enjoyable to walk or jog. The walk described here ends either through or close to Old Poway ...

Look low in Switzer Canyon for the dusky-footed woodrat

Scrub oaks, ice plant, wild cucumber, toyon berry, laurel sumac, and endangered California gnatcatchers

Switzer Canyon offers a hike for those with short legs and short attention spans — a kid-friendly urban walk that can be either a 30-minute or a one-hour hike. This is an example of a ...

Poway Creek — the ultimate suburban trail

Amphitheater, fire station, Royal Estates, Boys & Girls Club, softball field

Poway Creek Trail is number 27 of the 30 trails listed in the Poway Trails and Open Space System guide. The trail is just north of Poway Creek with numerous native riparian plants plus non-natives ...

Be careful near the monument — often home to a beehive.

Arroyo Seco Loop off Highway 79

Wide sweeping views? Check. An aircraft engine from the 1920s? Check. Bedrock morteros at a peaceful backcountry trail camp? Check. This loop hike includes the entire length of Airplane Ridge, breezes by interesting rock formations, ...

Little worry of getting lost

Beauty between the 94, Sweetwater River, Steele Canyon, and Cottonwood Golf Course

The relatively unknown Par 4 trails wind through the east end of San Diego National Wildlife Refuge’s Sweetwater River Unit. The area is boxed in by Highway 94 to the south and west; Steele Canyon ...

Burk's Bench — even better than Fonts Point

Palm Springs developer lost interest in Borrego

Most folks who drive or hike up Fonts Point Wash head to the spectacular viewpoint 4.8 miles from Highway S-22. It is one of the most scenic and popular viewpoints in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, ...

Japacha Peak — like Cuyamaca without antennas

Chaparral and mixed conifers

While Cuyamaca Peak gets all the fame as being San Diego County’s second-highest peak at 6512 feet, its lesser-known neighbor to the south, Japacha Peak, sports panoramic views without antenna towers adorning the summit. This ...

Get close to sagebrush, toyon, lemonadeberry, laurel sumac, and black sage — in a wheelchair

Trail for All People open one year now

The Trail for All People is one of the few trails in the county that is wheelchair accessible, built to ADA requirements. The trail was created for people with mobility issues within Black Mountain Open ...

Hike along the redwood flume that brought water to La Mesa

Differing life forms along Helix Flume Trail

The newest segment of the Helix Flume Trail between the old El Monte Pump Station on El Monte Road to Lake Jennings opened to the public in February 2017. The opening of this trail was ...

Get an early start on Descanso’s Blue Ribbon Loop along Sweetwater Creek

Lush river vegetation

If you are looking for a loop hike in the Cuyamacas with a mix of sun and shade, old road and narrow trail, a variety of wildflowers, and a shady creekside spot to rest, then ...

Part of Cuyamaca spared by 2003 Cedar Fire

East Mesa's grassland is non-native

In 1923, wealthy Beverly Hills residents Ralph and Helen Dyar purchased 20,000 acres of the original 35,500-acre Rancho Cuyamaca Spanish land grant and built their summer home near what is now the Park’s Visitor Center ...

Don't disturb the horses — Granite Springs Trail Camp

Pastoral grasslands with Cuyamaca and Laguna views

The standard route to Granite Springs is from the Sweetwater Trailhead located in Cuyamaca Rancho State Parks south-central region, but if you prefer a quieter approach, the Deer Park Trail offers plenty of solitude, wildflowers, ...

Get close but not too close to Carrizo Gorge trestle

One of the highest wooden trestles in North America

The trek to upper Goat Canyon is not a long hike but it is strenuous because of the rough terrain and boulder-hopping above Mortero Palms. The canyon’s name correctly implies that the nimbleness of a ...

A chaparral oasis — Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Avoid the spur trails and give way to horses

This is a relatively short out-and-back hike for those who want to find a trail with few people and that is easy to reach. The trail’s filled with many different chaparral flora and animals — ...

Peña Spring — a cool spot in Anza-Borrego

3500 feet above desert floor

If your route into Anza-Borrego Desert State Park takes you on S-22, sometimes known as Montezuma Grade, and past the hamlet of Ranchita, then you are well aware of the inspiring vistas as you wind ...

Desert bighorn sheep big fans of Big Spring

Explore a major upper-elevation watering hole for desert wildlife

Big Spring is one of the dependable watering holes for desert bighorn sheep. It is found in a tributary of upper Tubb Canyon and is easily accessible. The trail within the spring area is jungle-like ...

Explore a relatively unknown canyon of Anza-Borrego

Head to Hornblende Canyon if you wanna rock

Hornblende Canyon twists and turns as it climbs the shoulder of Granite Mountain. It has a great variety of plants, some dry waterfalls, old mines, plus Native American sites with morteros. As part of the ...

Watch out for horse pies on Dead Horse Trail

This technically advanced riding trail is also a challenge for hikers.

Merigan Fire Road was the main road for a ranch owned by Dr. Haig Merigan, a pharmacist and dentist. His family lived and rode horses in La Mesa until it became difficult to ride due ...

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