Los Jilgueros is a small, yet very scenic Preserve located on the south side of Fallbrook. Nestled in between a busy road and residential developments lies a small network of trails which will take you by ponds, freshwater marshland, and grassy fields. The Preserve is owned and maintained by the Fallbrook Land Conservancy who has done an amazing job preserving and protecting native habitat in North County.
We arrived at Los Jilgueros on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and found only a couple of other cars in the parking lot. We found two trailheads – one on either side of the lot. There is an outer loop trail that traverses the perimeter of the Preserve, and each of these trailheads is one end of that loop. There are also a number of other small trails that interconnect throughout the area, but we decided to stick to the perimeter trail, and began at the western trailhead.
Periodically along the trail we found some kiosks with information about the Preserve and some of the plants and animals that lived there. One display informed us that the Preserve was home to Long-tailed weasels, who commonly nest in rock piles. As we’d never seen a weasel before, we eagerly scanned the rocks in the distance for any sign of the small creatures. Alas, we did not spot any weasels, but did spot another long-tailed ground dwelling mammal.
Around .4 mile the path begin to bend to the left, and we came upon a small pond on the north end of the preserve. A small side path led down to the edge of the water, where we could see numerous ducks and coots swimming about.
We wanted to maximize our distance however, being that this was a rather compact place. So we turned right to stay along the outside perimeter. We passed along the side of the pond and made our way up a short hill.
We came to another 4-way junction, this one had a quaint wooden bridge crossing over a small stream to the right. The bridge led to the Preserve’s Northern entrance, and the left branch went back towards the garden and pond we had passed earlier.
We continued straight, passing sycamore trees and powerful smelling citrus plants. Being a warm and pleasant afternoon, the lizards were out in full force skittering through the leaf litter and posing on rocks and tree trunks.
We crossed a small wooden footbridge and discovered a large, cement dam. This construct, and another one we’d encounter further up the stream, were remains from the 1920s when the preserve was a working farm. The stream had been dammed to provide water for irrigation. Peering into the cement basin, the interior was pretty much dry.
A little further up the trail we found another junction, and once again turned right to stay along the perimeter of the grounds. The trail now ran alongside the busy South Mission Road, and while a healthy growth of riparian shrubs and willow trees kept the road out of sight, the constant sound of traffic still filled the air. As this was pretty much the only negative thing one can say about the place, I felt it was a tolerable nuisance.
Apparently though, this section of trail must get a fair amount of water when it rains. We found a number of boardwalks built over drain outlets from the road to our right. On this warm, dry, day however, they looked suspiciously like small bridges to nowhere.
All too soon we found ourselves back at the parking area, and the end of our hike.
From I-15, take Highway 76 west to South Mission Road. Turn right onto South Mission Road and continue for approximately 4.3 miles. The entrance to the Preserve is somewhat difficult to see from the road, but it is on the right, just past the bust stop after the intersection with Sterling Bridge Road. Once you’re heading up the driveway, take the first left to reach the parking lot. map
|Total Distance:||1.3 miles|
|Dog Friendly?:||Leashed dogs allowed|
|Bike Friendly?:||Bikes allowed|
For more information, visit:
Fallbook Land Conservancy – Los Jilgueros Preserve