As much as we love San Diego’s back country, we don’t always have the time and energy to drive out to the mountains or desert to hike. Fortunately, even the more developed areas of the County are rich with opportunities for hiking and exploration. Chula Vista’s Rice Canyon Open Space Preserve is home to a two-mile section of the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CR&HT) in the middle of a large suburban residential area. The canyon provides a peaceful patch of natural beauty you can enjoy with minimal effort.
We headed out to Rice Canyon on a breezy weekday afternoon for a quick stroll. It should be mentioned that there were a couple attempted abductions of female joggers on a nearby street late last year (December 2015), and a warning sign was still posted near the trail head. Be aware and take precautions as you feel necessary, but note that the attacks were on the street, not the trail. With two of us, we didn’t feel any concern.
We spent some time exploring the demonstration garden near the parking area. There were a bunch of interesting looking cacti and succulents, and many of them were beginning to bloom.
After exploring the garden and marveling at the diverse array of interesting plant life, we finally got down to hiking. The wide gravel trail began at the western end of the parking lot. A handful of picnic tables provided a nice spot to sit and enjoy the breezy afternoon.
To the left was another corridor of plant life between us and the overgrown creek that ran along the canyon floor. Some large fields of the interesting looking Snake Cholla appeared periodically. This would be a very bad spot to crash your bike.
Continuing on the trail, we found a beautiful Willow tree offering a bit of shade. Most of the shade producing plant life was close to the water, leaving the trail pretty much completely exposed to the rays of the sun. Here though, we had a small bit of shade to enjoy.
We crossed the street (South Rancho Del Rey Parkway) and continued straight along the sidewalk. After a couple of hundred feet of following the CR&HT markers, we found the entrance to the next section of the canyon.
From 805 South take the Bonita Road exit. Turn left onto Bonita Road and continue approximately 2.2 miles. Turn right onto Otay Lakes Road and continue approximately 1.3 miles. Turn right onto Avenida Del Rey, then turn left onto N Rancho Del Rey Parkway. In approximately .4 mile the entrance to Rice Canyon Open Space Preserve will be on the right. map
|Total Distance:||3.6 miles|
|Total Ascent:||280 feet|
|Dog Friendly?:||Leashed dogs allowed|
|Bike Friendly?:||Bikes allowed|