09 February 2014

Hiking on Santa Ysabel East Preserve

February 2014

Back at outdoors after recovering from influenza.  Had earlier visited Santa Ysabel West Preserve, but not the East Preserve. Both of them were located near each other in San Diego County, in Santa Ysabel near Julian.  In this region hills started to be bigger, mountains were already in sight in east.

There's a 55 miles long Coast-to-Crest Trail (CtC), which starts near here on Volcan Mountains, ending at Del Mar on Pacific Ocean.  Santa Ysabel East Preserve trails are part of the CtC trail. The San Dieguito River Park provides necessary trail maps for this Preserve as well as maps for all other trails along the CtC. They seem to do pretty important preserving work for these areas.

The Santa Ysabel East Preserve had two trailheads, one near Julian and another one along highway 79 near Santa Ysabel. Picked up the one along the 79.

Clear blue sky, temperature above +15C. low wind. Good conditions for hiking.

At the trailhead, there were warning signs for Mountain Lions, Rattlesnakes etc.  Information leaflet explained other animals living here, too, e.g. Bobcats and Deers. Wondered if they wanted to step in front of my camera, too? Of course they didn't.

To enter the trailhead, one had to open and close a gate. Reason for the gate was within sight, namely cows. Lots of cows.  Soon noticed the trail went straight through a group of cows. Was mainly thinking of mad cow disease while stepping closer them. No one had big horns which was a good sign. They all looked at me.  Heart bumping passed them with no physical contact, neither any signs of running.

Once passed the cows, a field ended and the trail started to ascend towards the first hill.  Hills were full of old Oak trees. One may called it a forest, too. Breathing became heavier, much heavier. Recovery from a flu hadn't been fully over yet.

Red Tail Hawks glided above, clearly looking for an early lunch. After approaching another gate, terrain became slightly more flat, but only a short period, starting to ascend again.

Bird singing have increased a lot within last weeks. In here it was noticeable, too.  Up on the hills, Hawks were changed to Turkey Vultures, which glided beautifully following streams in the air.

Every now and then there were tables and seat for enjoying a break. Nice places under old and massive oak trees.

Next the trail entered into almost a treeless place. Clearly there's been a fire some time ago. Bushes were grown high already.  The trail went higher and higher all the time, reaching above 4000 ft (the trailhead was below 3000 ft).

One could see Santa Ysabel Creek down in the canyon. Hundreds of Ravens sat on trees near the creek.  The creek and its neighborhood was preserved, offering good shade and protection for all sort of animals living in this region, at least that's how I believed it was.

After 8km, turned back and returned back. The trail would have continued at least another 5km, offering one additional loop near the end.

All on all this was even better trail than Santa Ysabel West Preserve was. Perhaps oak forests, nice fields along the hills and bigger mountain on the background on east gave better feeling.

These trails were much more fun, too. One couldn't stay without laughing cows, who stared like there's a new kid in town. They were even polite, on gates they waited until you've passed the gate, only after that they passed it.  Proved it by waiting 15mins near one gate. No, they didn't come, but after I passed the gate and stopped right after the gate, they all came, saluted me while passing me and the gate.

A few photos


A sign for the Coast to Crest Trail

A Gate

A Picnic area under an old oak tree

Trail twisted along the hills

California Oak trees

Highway 79 down in the valley

Some oak trees were just massive

More green under the tree

Life has come to an end



A Turkey Vulture

A Western Scrub-Jay

They did say something but Shazam didn't recognize it 

Learning new Yield-To instructions

Young Raging Bull in full swing

Lawn Mowers

Like Father Like Son (or was it mother?)

Excuse me but ....  Holy Shit!

Cactus in front light

Children like to show their tongue for mean people, so do young cows

03 February 2014

Hiking on Cuyamaca State Park

November 2013

In East County of San Diego, between Mount Laguna and Julian lies high mountains, pine forests with old oak trees (or vice versa!) and flat meadows, all in mile high.  One pretty area there is Cuyamaca State Park, which contains miles of trails.

Spent there one beautiful day looping Cuyamaca Peak (6512 ft).

Started the hike near south shore of the Lake Cuyamaca. At first ascending a sandy old Fire Road. There was a large fire some eight months ago or so. Despite it had burnt almost everything, new plants and trees were already pushing through.

From the road switched to Sugar Pine Trail, continuing ascending towards Middle Peak.  After crossing again Fire Road the trail changed to Black Oak Trail.

The Black Oak Trail circled Middle Peak from west side, offering broad view towards mountains and hills on west and north.

Some meadows had old Black Oak trees. Here, now heading south, the trail descended and crossed Milk Ranch Road and started again to ascend towards Cuyamaca Peak.

Again the name of the trail changed, being Conejos Trail.  The trail ascended now on east slope providing views towards meadows, Lake Cuyamaca and other mountain peaks as far as on mountains on Anza-Borrego Desert State Park on east.

Finally the trail came to a small road which headed to the peak. Once arrived there, enjoyed 360 degree scenery, took some photos and ate snacks.  Even some cyclists were there which amazed me.

Descended via Lookout Road to Park HQ building, crossed the road 79 and took a fairly flat trail back to Lake Cuyamaca.  On meadow saw few Wild Turkeys. Hawks and eagles were so common view that one could not count these anymore.

There were still plenty of trails left, e.g. trails to Green Valley and the ones near Park Visitor Center. Thus, worth coming here a few times.

About gear; this was the first real test of new hiking shoes, Salomon Fellraiser. Found them really good, thin enough, providing good grip.

The Route

About 20km route (about 1000 meters in vertical altogether):

Few snapshots


Burnt land on Middle Peak

Black Oak trees near Milk Ranch

Lake Cuyamaca and meadows

Stonewall Peak (5730 ft)

A view towards north west from Cuyamaca Peak (6512 ft)



The HQ

The US Route 79

Colour show by nature

Getting miles