Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, CA


Hikers and nature lovers will enjoy what Los Peñasquitos has to offer them. This is a nature preserve, so all plants and structures are protected, with the park cautioning visitors to be respectful of the preserve’s natural ecosystem.

Rancho de los Peñasquitos was the first Mexican land grant in California, leading to the construction of the still standing Ruiz-Alvarado Adobe in 1815. The City of San Diego, with the intention of preserving the canyon for park and open space use, became the principal landowner of the canyon in 1982.

The canyon is surprisingly lush and verdant to the east, with hikers’ end destinations marked by a waterfall that is impossible to miss.

The overall trails are easily marked, disrupted only by creeks and converging with other trails. There is a multitude of growth surrounding the trail, all surrounded by water in a way that almost displaces the hiker. This trail feels very distinctly un-San Diego, in a good way.

Although secluded and almost displaced, hikers would be best to remain alert of their surroundings. It is warned that poison ivy may be found growing alongside the trail, and the canyons warn of rattlesnakes, mountain lions, and rugged terrain. Any hiker or camper knows one is best advised to stay alert of their surroundings at all times, but this is easier said than done when hiking alone such a serene path. As the trail features many waterfalls, it is recommended the exposed volcanic rock be avoided. pen2

Altogether, this hike totals about 12 miles, quite a decent distance. Bikes are allowed on designated parts of the trail, but park goers should not expect to be able to ride a majority of the trail. Leashed pets are allowed within the park, while respecting the park’s adherence toward preservation.

Nature lovers will enjoy the park’s 500 species of plant and over 175 types of birds, many of which are endangered or protected. The 14 habitat types lend to the unique blend of natural formations and species found within the preserve.

Overnight camping is prohibited within the reserve, with park hours from 8am to 6pm.

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