Barnett Ranch Preserve

20150227BarnettRanch_DSC6122-EditLocated in Ramona, Barnett Ranch is 728 acre Preserve purchased by the county in 2002. The Preserve contains a variety of habitats including riparian forest, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and non-native grassland. The Preserve contains 2 formal trails: The Valley View Trail and the Rattlesnake Trail (trail map).

We parked our car at the small parking lot and headed up the road. In a couple hundred feet, we noticed a small, unmarked single track trail on the left. I was pretty sure this wasn’t the Valley View Trail shown on the park’s trail map, but it looked like an interesting route, so we decided to explore.20150227BarnettRanch_DSC5954-Edit

We turned left up the single track. The trail was lined with lush green grass at the end of what passes for winter in San Diego. We headed up a small hill through a grove of Coast Live Oaks.20150227BarnettRanch_DSC5960-Edit

Around ⅓ of a mile we crested the hill and met up with the wider, formal Valley View Trail. Turning left, we found ourselves walking along an open, grassy hilltop with oaks and boulders punctuating the green fields around us.20150227BarnettRanch_DSC5972-Edit

We soon passed under some power lines and found another trail junction. To the right was a short spur trail leading to an overlook, and the left was the continuation of the Valley View Trail. We headed right to check out the view.20150227BarnettRanch_DSC5978-Edit

Cresting a small hill, we quickly came to the overlook. We found a wide, open area, complete with a mesh picnic table. To the right was a rocky outcropping overlooking the Preserve. To the south we had a fantastic view of the valley below.20150227BarnettRanch_DSC5985-Edit

After enjoying the views, we retraced our route back to the Valley View Trail and continued on. The trail wrapped around the small peak we had just been on top of and descended towards the valley we had previously been admiring.20150227BarnettRanch_DSC5996-Edit

Just shy of 1.2 miles, we again passed under the power lines and found ourselves at the end of trail. Just short of the “End of Trail” sign, we found a small, yet well-defined social trail heading uphill. I knew from having researched the area on Google Maps that this trail would connect with the far end of the Rattlesnake Trail on the other side of the Preserve, so we decided to take that route.20150227BarnettRanch_DSC6012-Edit

The single track climbed briefly over the ridge, and the descended into a small little valley. The grass was green, the birds were chirping, and there was not another soul to be seen. The sky was full of giant, puffy clouds heralding the storm that was forecast to hit the next day.20150227Barnett Ranch_DSC6028-Edit

The trail climbed up out of the small valley and we found ourselves walking along an old barbed-wire fence. At 1.7 miles we met up with a wider dirt trail and turned left.20150227BarnettRanch_DSC6048-Edit

In a few hundred feet we made another left.20150227BarnettRanch_DSC6054-Edit

The trail went up a small rise and countered along the edge of the Preserve. To the right, we could see wide open grasslands stretching out before us. Poking up above the mountains in the foreground to the west we could just barely make out the antenna-clad top of Mount Woodson.20150227BarnettRanch_DSC6061-Edit

All along our hike, we were seeing the beginning stages of the spring wildflower bloom. We spotted a few small poppies along the sides of the trail, and came across several ceanothus bushes sporting their purple blooms. Wild cucumber vines were also running rampant in several areas.

At 2.6 miles our social trail met up with the end of the Rattlesnake Trail, where we encountered another picnic table. This one was situated beneath the overhanging branches of an oak tree. We stopped here for a few minutes to enjoy the peaceful silence of the afternoon.20150227BarnettRanch_DSC6087-Edit

We spotted a pair of crows circling above us, one with something in his mouth. At first I thought it was a mouse or other small, unfortunate creature. But upon closer examination it appeared to be plastic bag containing who knows what.20150227BarnettRanch_DSC6099-Edit

After resting a few minutes and enjoying a small snack, we continued along the trail. We went down a small hill and found a wooden fence with a break in it that led to a barely discernable jeep trail. According to the park trail map this was a short spur trail leading to a viewpoint, but we neglected to explore it.20150227BarnettRanch_DSC6111-Edit

We continued along the Rattlesnake Trail, which on this day at least, did not appear to contain any actual rattlesnakes. We passed through some more oak trees, and found another oak tree overhanging a picnic table.20150227BarnettRanch_SKDSC_7695

Around 3.2 miles we found a dried up pond, perhaps a remnant from days past when this area was a cattle ranch. A double sided bench next to the pond provided yet another opportunity to sit still and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.20150227BarnettRanch_DSC6130-Edit

The trail bent northward from here, and at 3.5 miles we met up with the paved road. We traveled east back towards our starting point. To the left was the fenced off, private property of the current Barnett Ranch. A handful of placid cows watched us as we passed.20150227BarnettRanch_DSC6159-Edit

At 3.75 miles we passed the proper starting point of the Valley View Trail. The formal path was much wider than the social trail we had traveled, and if I were to bring my dogs out here this is probably the route I’d choose. Wider trails give you more opportunities to spot and avoid hazards like rattlesnakes, and keep your dogs away from tall grasses which can hold ticks and other parasites.20150227BarnettRanch_DSC6165-Edit

We followed the pavement for another ¼ mile until we reached the parking area.

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From Interstate 8, take Highway 67 north until the freeway portion ends and turn right on Mapleview. Turn left on Ashwood, which will turn into Wildcat Canyon Road. Continue on Wildcat Canyon Road for approximately 12 miles, and turn left on San Vicente Road. Follow San Vicente for approximately 1.2 miles then turn left onto Deviney Lane. The dirt turnout for parking is just up the road on your left. map

Total Distance: 4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Total Ascent: 630 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes allowed
Facilities: None
Fees/Permits: None

For more information, visit:
County of San Diego – Barnett Ranch Preserve
Trail Map

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