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Stories by The Canyoneers

Hike to the Audubon Nature Center and Buena Vista Lagoon in Carlsbad

This freshwater lagoon is a great place to observe a variety of birds.

In 1969, the Buena Vista Lagoon was set aside as California’s first ecological reserve. It continues to be a refuge for birds and other wildlife and can be a great place to observe migrating waterfowl, ...

Coyote Canyon and Rockhouse Canyon, once home to Coyote people, traveled to the territory of cat people to find marriage partners

Discover a hidden playa filled with landslide alluvium

Coyote Mountain is sandwiched between the Coyote Creek fault and the Coyote Mountain/Clark Lake fault within the San Jacinto Fault Zone. Pressure from these right-lateral faults has caused the uplift creating Coyote Mountain and the ...

The Sentenac Birding Trail: from San Felipe Creek migratory bird wetland to smaller resident bird shelter

Enjoy Sentenac Cienega while birdwatching

The Birding Trail was established at a time when San Felipe Creek discharged into a large wetland, or cienega, with intermittent pools of open water. It was an important stop for migratory birds. The pools ...

Brazilian author Paulo CoeIho’s The Valkyries made Glorietta Canyon internationally known

His “Black Madonna” was once found on a boulder at the mouth of the canyon

This little canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is only a hop, skip, and a short off-road drive southwest of downtown Borrego Springs. It is a popular local canyon for day hikes, and surprisingly, internationally ...

The Painted Gorge: from under the sea to desert region

Ancient seas and minor impurities in granitic and volcanic rocks give rise to the vivid colors

The Painted Gorge near Ocotillo and Plaster City offers the opportunity to explore the brightly colored mud hills of an ancient marine layer and volcanic flows. This particular excursion is of variable length and difficulty, ...

Harper Canyon: home to ironwood trees, dramatic geology and desert bighorn sheep

This remote Anza-Borrego canyon is for the experienced hiker

Harper Canyon is home to hundreds of magnificent ironwood trees (Olneya terota). They can become quite large and, though the pinnately compound leaves don’t provide abundant shade, they are evergreen and attractive year around. Since ...

Hoyt Park Trail: A quiet canyon shaded by eucalyptus trees

Explore a popular hiking trail in Scripps Ranch

The Hoyt Park Trail in Scripps Ranch offers a chance to escape traffic and crowds in a quiet canyon shaded by eucalyptus trees. It is a short distance from the Scripps Ranch Village Shopping Center ...

Urban canyoneering

The lush low places of City Heights

Olivia Canyon. also known as 47th Street Canyon, is the eastern-most canyon of the City Heights Canyons Loop Trail system. There are five trailheads into this canyon. Near the entry at 47th Street, you will ...

Pamo Valley: isolated from the sounds of the city

Explore this newly completed link on the Coast to Crest Trail

Pamo Valley is a beautiful, peaceful little valley that seems very isolated in spite of its closeness to nearby Ramona. Though you are within a few miles of town, you can no longer hear the ...

Dictionary Hill: the newest open space preserves in the county

Explore a remnant of a volcanic island that has panoramic views

The hill with the funny name has a lot of things going for it. It had been scheduled for a major housing development that would have leveled and lowered the summit by many feet. Through ...

A garden of gardens

Bamboo, Subtropical Fruit, Undersea Succulent...

San Diego Botanic Garden has a collection of over 4,000 unique plants, many found at exotic locations throughout the world. You can explore habitats from places you would like to visit without ever leaving San ...

A park built on a fault line in East Village

Fault Line Park is a strand of the Rose Canyon Fault system

Fault Line Park, the first public park in East Village, is adjacent to two high-rise apartment complexes on its east side. It is a public park because no structures for human occupancy can be built ...

Climb a mini peak in rural East County

Donohoe Mountain is surrounded by a multitude of trails

Tucked into the foothills of Otay Mountain, this unassuming peaklet provides a quick getaway if you have just a couple of hours but want to escape the crowds and enjoy views of mountains near and ...

Enjoy a walk on the mild side

Rose Marie Starns South Shores Park is one of Mission Bay's nicer public walks

San Diego is blessed with many nice public walks, and this is one of the nicer ones, because it hugs the south shore of Mission Bay opposite Fiesta Island. It is named for Rose Marie ...

Watch as the bird populations change with the seasons

Explore the bayside walking and birding trail in Imperial Beach

A new birding trail has been opened at the very bottom of San Diego Bay in Imperial Beach within the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. There is a well-marked dirt path stemming from the ...

Follow Peñasquitos Creek as it meanders through South Poway and Sabre Springs

Take time to enjoy views of Iron Mountain, Mount Woodson and an abundance of California native plants

This is a segment of the 110-mile Trans-County Trail that follows Peñasquitos Creek as it meanders through South Poway and Sabre Springs. About half of the hike is an easy walk through coastal sage scrub ...

Poway's trail less traveled

Hike the loop to Tooth Rock

The out-and-back trip is an easy walk through coastal sage scrub and grassland habitat, with an occasional dip into shady live oak, poplar, sycamore and willow riparian groves. It is good for everyone, including parents ...

A peak experience with spectacular desert views

Hiking Sombrero Peak from Indian Gorge, there is no official trail or even agreed-upon route to the top

Many reasons have been given for climbing Sombrero Peak, including its distinctive shape and the fact that it is quite prominent when viewed from Indian or Bow Willow Valleys. It is on the list of ...

Enjoy various cacti, flowers, and animal tracks on the Bisnaga Wash

“Bisnaga,” is Spanish for barrel cactus

Begin the hike from the parking area and follow the wash veering to the northwest, keeping the hills on your left. Bisnaga Wash is a wide wash with gradual elevation gain, ending in a narrow ...

Bike the bayshore on Coronado's Silver Strand

Experience an uncluttered view of the south end of San Diego Bay and the Coronado Bridge

The Bayshore Bikeway can be entered at the end of the parking lot at Glorietta Bay Park in Coronado. Pay attention for riders as you enter. This is the beginning of a nice 9-mile ride ...

Step back in time on the Kelly Trail in Carlsbad

Follow the Agua Hedionda Creek wetlands bordering Agua Hedionda Lagoon

The land that is now Carlsbad was once home to Kumeyaay people, perhaps for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Spanish priests and their accompanying soldiers displaced the Kumeyaay by the late 18th century, and ...

Hidden and well-known treasures of Balboa Park

Five trails start at the Sixth and Upas gateway

Hidden and well-known treasures of Balboa Park

A fitness routine surrounded by natural sights and sounds

Over 100-year-old oaks and wildlife abound at Potrero Regional Park

A fitness routine surrounded by natural sights and sounds

Follow part of the early stagecoach line between Poway and Escondido

The views of the surrounding hills and of San Pasqual Agricultural Preserve are outstanding

Follow part of the early stagecoach line between Poway and Escondido

An unassuming cemetery in Mission Hills

Salvaged tombstones are the only indication that Calvary Cemetery ever existed

An unassuming cemetery in Mission Hills

Hosp's loss, Carlsbad's gain

A eucalyptus forest with scenic views of Buena Vista Lagoon.

The many eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus globulus) growing in this part of Carlsbad were originally planted by F.W. Hosp, an Oceanside nurseryman, who hoped to use the wood for railroad ties, bridges, and trestles. Hosp and ...

Trans-County—South Poway Trail

Hike an urban section of the Trans-County Trail

The South Poway Trail is part of San Diego’s 110-mile Trans-County Trail, currently incomplete, that will eventually extend from the Anza Borrego Desert State Park to the Pacific Ocean near Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. ...

Morrison Pond

Visit a partially-secluded and quiet spot in Sweetwater Regional Summit Park.

Once the site of a sand and gravel quarry, Morrison Pond is now a partially-secluded spot within the Sweetwater Regional Summit Park that is great for nature watching. It is an open preserve with multiple ...

Stonebridge Trail: San Elijo Lagoon

Enjoy the diverse natural environments of the eastern portion of the San Elijo Ecological Reserve.

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

Rolando Village Catwalks (East County)

These walkways and staircases rival La Mesa’s “Secret Stairs” for a cardio workout.

La Mesa and adjacent Rolando Village stand out as one of the few areas in the county that offer a system of public walkways and stairways. Probably best known are the “Secret Stairs” of Mt. ...

Champagne Pass Viewpoint—Pine Mountain Loop

Take in a 360-degree view and sign the register on this little-known peak in the Laguna Mountains.

This is a moderate hike that offers little shade on its way to the top of Champagne Pass (~5500’) where the views are magnificent. This trail can be taken year-round, with blooming wildflowers in the ...

La Mesa’s secret stairs to peak of Mount Nebo

Get a cardio workout on staircases that date back to 1912.

For those looking for stair stepping exercise in San Diego County, there are actually several options for a cardio workout: The San Diego Convention Center has about 100 steps; the “Catwalks” of Rolando Village are ...

Del Mar Mesa Preserve

This hike explores rare vernal pools

The Del Mar Mesa is a flat, chaparral-covered plateau, with an average elevation of 400 feet above sea level. Canyons drain south from the plateau into Los Peñasquitos Creek and northwest into Deer Creek, then ...

A stroll through the City of Trails

Explore some of the lesser-known paths of Poway

Poway is a “city of trails” with some of the most popular hiking trails in coastal San Diego, especially those to Iron Mountain and Mt. Woodson. However, it has many other trails, mostly used by ...

A wild but happening place

Annie's Canyon Trail takes you through a wide variety of habitats

Annie’s Canyon Trail goes through a variety of habitats, including riparian forest, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and salt water marsh. It also has an amazing slot canyon. There are outstanding views of the ocean, lagoon, ...

Adventures above De Anza

There is no official trail up to the peak of Jacumba Mountain

If you are someone who enjoys a little adventure through a bouldery desert landscape with few other people and you’re up for a bit of a navigational challenge, then this hike just may fit the ...

An adventure in geology

Slipping through the slots of Canyon Sin Nombre

A couple of very good slot canyons make for an interesting add-on to the impressive geology hike at the upper portion of this canyon. The Roam-O-Rama write up “The pull-apart basin” from 11/22/17 describes the ...

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 ...

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