North San Diego is a veritable hiking paradise, with world-class trails just a short drive away. Rancho Santa Fe is perfectly positioned to access both beach hiking to the west, at locations like Torrey Pines State Park, but also inland hiking to the east, like Mount Woodson, Iron Mountain, and the mighty Cleveland National Forest.
San Dieguito County Park
The 125-acre San Dieguito County Park houses myriad trails, pavilions, exercise stations, playgrounds, hiking trails, a basketball court, and an accessible baseball field. While not the best hiking destination in town, it’s great for a daily jog, picnic, or another casual outing.
Black Mountain Open Space Park
This 2,300-acre park is a haven in the center of San Diego, awash with chaparral and sage-covered hills, ridges, and canyons. The jewel of the park is the 1,500-foot Black Mountain. A hike to the summit offers views in all directions, both to the ocean, downtown San Diego, and mountains to the north and east.
San Elijo Lagoon
The San Elijo Lagoon is one of San Diego’s largest wetlands, a shallow-water estuary formed where the Escondido and La Orilla Creeks converge in the Pacific Ocean. The park’s 900+ acres of wetland are home to seven miles of easy-to-moderate trails and a strenuous 0.25-mile Annie’s Canyon Trail. “Trails connect wetland habitats of coastal strand, salt marsh, freshwater/brackish marsh, riparian scrub, coastal sage scrub, and mixed chaparral.”
Torrey Pines State Reserve
This 2,000-acres coastal state park is home to the rare Torrey pine, and is home to animals such as bobcat, fox, skunk, raccoon, coyote, and rabbit, not to mention a diverse variety of cacti and coastal chaparral. Hiking down the park’s cliffs to the beaches below is a real treat any day of the week, though the park can become quite crowded on weekends.
Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve
This Escondido reserve is home to 11 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails, in addition to a few picnic areas and mountain viewpoints. Oak riparian, oak woodland, coastal sage scrub, and chaparral abound in the 784-acre park.
Del Dios Highlands Preserve
Just next to Elfin Forest is Del Dios Highlands, a 774-acre with a single trail that climbs nearly 1,000 feet to an unnamed summit. Covered with a mix of chaparral and coastal sage scrub, the preserve and its trail offer sublime vistas of Lake Hodges and the expansive Olivenhain Reservoir.
Torrey Highlands Park
This small community park north of Carmel Valley houses a small playground and dog park, as well as walking and biking paths. This bite-sized park may not be as large as many other local options, but it’s a nice quiet spot to take the dogs for a morning walk or the kids for an afternoon of play.
All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only.
While this information is believed to be correct, it is represented subject to errors and omissions.
Copyright © 2023 Raquel Benguiat. All rights reserved.
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