Hiking Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

San Diego is famous for its beautiful coastline, but there are many natural attractions away from the ocean which deserve acknowledgement. As Tony mentioned in his previous post about Ocean Beach, islands of real California still survive. Some of those are islands of nature, such as the green canyons which criss-cross much of the county. Although many of the canyons have been filled in for housing developments throughout the years, others have been turned into preserves and serve as refuge for endemic animals such as coyotes, mule deer, raccoons and the occasional mountain lion as well as for birds and native plants.

When we were in the States in 2009, our friend Evelyn took us for a hike to Palomar Mountain State Park. This time, she introduced us to Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve just north of Mira Mesa. The 7-mile canyon starts at the I-5/805 merge and meanders east to Black Mountain Road. For years, we drove by this area and never even knew there was a canyon here. Even for (ex)residents, San Diego still has a few surprises up its sleeve.

The secluded piece of paradise offers a welcome change to the fast-paced life of Southern California. As we hiked along the narrow trails, I noticed the lack of freeway noise and was thrilled to hear an array of song birds instead. My blood pressure dropped immediately. I also loved the combination of lush vegetation, giant trees and desert plants. Moreover, carpets of beautiful flowers added streaks of color to the palette of greens and browns.

Los Penasquitos Canyon is an easy hike, even for people like myself with a poor sense of direction. Having said that, I was happy to have had Tony and Evelyn on my side – not just for directions, but to share in a beautiful day out in nature.

To find out more about San Diego’s surviving canyons, learn about the trail heads, and discover what you can do to help preserve the canyons, visit the San Diego Canyonlands web site.

2 responses to “Hiking Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve”

  1. Sweet place.

    I literally could not survive in San Diego without escapes to the lovely remnant canyons. The pungent smell of sage, the blooms after winter rains, the zooming hummingbirds …. Of course realizing – over the years that I lived there -how fragmented the native ecosystems had become was what drove me away from that once-beautiful place. It made me too sad. Oh yeah, that, and the all-consuming fear of disaster, which would cut off the water supply, force mass exodus, and the chaos that would ensue.

    Apparently not everyone worries about those kinds of things though.

    • avatar Tony says:

      Laurelle, the survivalist. There were some electives in Washington state public schools that weren’t offered in California. 🙂 I have no doubt that you could easily live out Armageddon in one of these canyons.

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