The San Pasqual Valley consists largely of an agricultural preserve owned by the City of San Diego. The San Pasqual/Clevenger Canyon Open Space Park lies within, split into two disparate segments separated by Highway 78. The Open Space is part of the San Dieguito River Park, however it is managed by the City of San Diego. On a lovely, drizzly Sunday morning, we decided we’d tackle the northern portion.
The trail began at a gap in the fence at the north side of the staging area. We wound our way through some large boulders, all of which had a patchwork of paint covering up a plethora of graffiti. I can’t for the life of me figure out how someone could come to such a beautiful and peaceful spot and decide it could be improved with some illiterate gibberish, but clearly I’m missing something.
The trail began to descend some stone steps, passing through a tunnel formed from more defaced boulders. We noticed a huge amount of broken glass on the trail in this area and were glad we hadn’t brought one of our dogs along.
The trail was quickly descending to the Santa Ysabel Creek below. We passed some more graffiti covered rocks as we climbed down stone steps to reach the creek bed. At least this particular vandal seemed to care about our safety.
Around .25 miles we reached the sandy floor of Santa Ysabel Creek. There was no water to be seen, but the tangles of lush riparian growth surrounding us indicated that water flowed through here with some degree of regularity. Sycamores, oaks, cottonwood, and arroyo willow filled the ravine. And of course, graffiti-covered boulders.
The trail climbed steadily, but was never horrifically steep. We were soon level with the staging area on the other side of the creek and we could hear the noise of traffic on Highway 78 across from us. On the slope beneath the staging area, we spotted the rusted out remains of an old car.
The fog grew thicker as we continued to climb, and we really weren’t quite sure exactly where we headed – but that’s part of the fun of hiking in fog. Plus, sometimes you get really cool views through the clouds, like this:
I had hoped that as we moved away from the staging area and into some of the more remote sections of trail that the graffiti would dissipate, but it appeared that the climb was only a deterrent to those who removed the graffiti, not those who initiated it.
Finally, we came to a “Y” branch with a sign for a viewpoint to the right. The trail continued on the left from here, but is no longer maintained and becomes difficult to follow as you continue. So for today, our destination was just the viewpoint.
From here, we retraced our route back to the car.
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From I-15, take the Via Rancho Parkway exit. Head east on Via Rancho Parkway towards the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Wild Animal Park). Continue as Via Rancho Parkway turns into Bear Valley Parkway. Turn right onto San Pasqual Road, then turn right onto Highway 78, still following signs for San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Continue on Highway 78 for 7.3 miles, the staging area will be on the left. map
|Total Distance:||4.7 miles|
|Total Ascent:||1438 feet|
|Dog Friendly?:||Leashed dogs allowed – watch out for broken glass near start of trail|
|Bike Friendly?:||Bikes not allowed|