Blue Sky Ecological Reserve is a 700 acre canyon just north of Lake Poway, containing a beautiful mix of riparian, oak woodland, coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitats. Green Valley Truck Trail runs through the reserve, leading up to Lake Ramona, and several side trails offer further opportunities for exploration.
We decided to get an early start on this one since we were bringing one of the dogs. While the first half of this hike is flat and partially shaded, the second half is fully exposed to the sun and involves some steep climbing. We lucked out with a thick marine layer to help keep us cool.
There were some signs warning about the presence of bees, who buzzed merrily through the flowering buckwheat along the trail, completely ignoring us. We made our way around a vehicle gate blocking the road, and headed down the hill.
At .25 miles we spotted a branch for the Creekside Trail on the left. This narrow path led down into the thick of the trees and brush along the creek for about .25 mile before reconnecting with the main trail further ahead. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed on the Creekside Trail so we continued straight along the Truck Trail. If you happen to be hiking sans canine, I highly recommend taking it as an alternate route on either the way out or the way back since it’s a beautiful and peaceful area (check out our pictures from a previous hike).
We were glad to be on a wide path since there was an abundance of poison oak throughout the canyon, lining both sides of the road in some spots. This time of year it was displaying its beautiful mix of red and green, which I always enjoyed admiring from very far away.
Around 1.1 miles we came to a shaded picnic area, complete with a mid-hike port-a-potty. With all the poison oak we’d seen, numerous port-a-potties seemed like a really good idea! If it’s a really hot day or you’re just looking for an easy stroll, this makes a good turn-around point.
Finally, at 2.4 miles we reached the top, and Lake Ramona stretched out before us. There was yet another port-a-potty at the top of the dam, and several people with fishing poles passed us as they headed towards the lake. Green Valley Truck Trail continued across the dam and around the northern side of the lake, but this was our turn-around point for today. We found a shady spot to enjoy the breeze and cool off a bit before turning back and retracing our route.
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From I-15, take the Rancho Bernardo Road exit and head east on Rancho Bernardo Road. Continue as Rancho Bernardo Road turns into Espola Road. Approximately 3.2 miles from I-15 as Espola Road begins to curve south you will find the entrance to Blue Sky Ecological Reserve on the left. map
|Total Distance:||4.8 miles|
|Total Ascent:||800 feet|
|Dog Friendly?:||Leashed dogs allowed on main trail|
|Bike Friendly?:||Bikes not allowed|
|Facilities:||Port-a-potty and water in parking lot|
For more information, visit:
California Department of Fish and Wildlife – Blue Sky Ecological Reserve
Friends of Blue Sky Canyon
City of Poway – Blue Sky Ecological Reserve
View route or download GPX from CalTopo