As highway 78 winds through the San Pasqual Valley, the tall slopes Clevenger Canyon Open Space Park loom above. The Park is bisected by the highway, and separate trail heads provide access to trails on either side. We had hiked the North Clevenger Canyon trail over a year ago, and we decided it was high time to get back and finish the job by hiking South Clevenger Canyon. The two trails offer similar terrain and views, and both are enjoyable hikes. The South Clevenger trail splits at the half mile point, with one fork going east and one going west. Our intention was to hike both forks, but if you’re looking for a shorter hike you could certainly just do one. Of the two, I found the eastern fork a little more scenic and interesting.
We continued up the switchbacks until .5 miles, where we came to a junction. From here the trail splits into two separate forks: the shorter west trail leads to a rocky viewpoint, and the longer east fork leads to a small, unnamed summit. Our intention was to hike both branches. We decided to do the short fork first, and turned right.
We proceeded uphill through the scraggy brush. The trail was starting to get a little overgrown, and pokey grass sagebrush brushed our legs as passed. The trail was still easy to follow, and we saw no evidence of ticks at this time, so the overgrowth was just a minor irritant.
We followed the trail uphill a short way through increasingly overgrown brush, until it appeared to end at a patch of boulders. We weren’t quite at the summit point, but didn’t see an obvious route to get there and weren’t properly attired for bushwhacking. So we climbed up on the rocks, took some pictures, then started back down.
The trail headed south along the edge of side canyon filled with oaks. I was happy to find that we were travelling away from the road. While this trail had a rather wild feeling to it, the regular hum of cars racing by on highway 78 was a bit of distraction from the otherwise peaceful surroundings.
Before long, the trail bent left and dipped down to cross the small canyon. A couple of small wooden footbridges spanned a dry creek bed. As with most shady waterways in San Diego, this spot had its share of poison oak. It was easily avoided by sticking to the trail, and we were able to pass unscathed.
For the next mile or so, we continued to climb eastward along the flank of the canyon wall. Sadly we did encounter the occasional vandalized rock, but the graffiti along this trail was nowhere near as bad as what we had seen the previous year while hiking North Clevenger Canyon.
The wooden staircase seemed old and weathered, and we took it one person at a time. But it held up, and we found ourselves atop the boulder with the metal chairs. They were held firmly in place, encased in concrete, solidly affixed to the boulder below. We tested out the chairs and they were solid enough, but the sheer drop off the front of the boulder made me a little nervous, and we didn’t linger very long. I personally prefer more natural seating arrangements, like unadulterated boulders. We continued on the trail to the summit.
To the east we could see the formidable form of Ramona’s Black Mountain.
To the west, just poking up over an unidentified peak in the foreground we could see the distinctive antenna-clad top of Mount Woodson.
After relaxing a while and enjoying the scenery, we retraced our route and returned to our car.
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 6.7 miles, the staging area will be on the right. map
|Total Distance:||6.4 miles|
|Total Ascent:||1832 feet|
|Dog Friendly?:||Leashed dogs allowed|
|Bike Friendly?:||Bikes not allowed|