Summer is right around the corner and now is the perfect time to go for a hike in Southern California before the weather gets too hot. There are numerous, lovely day hikes to take in Southern California, but none is quite so picturesque as the trail at Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve in San Diego County.
This hike is a favorite among locals. But, even though it is well-traveled, you can still find peace and quiet there. For your efforts, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking scenery and even a waterfall! While it’s not exactly a large waterfall, it’s still a hidden, refreshing oasis that flows across volcanic rock. If you’re looking for something even more volcanic, on the other side of the state there’s this incredible hike around a dormant volcano to check out too.
The park itself is about 4,000 acres of natural beauty. You can bird watch, catch bullfrogs along the creek, listen to the relaxing sounds of crickets and cicadas, and breathe in the aroma of sage and chaparral. The hike to the waterfall can be challenging in spots. There is a rock stairway that climbs quite a few feet but, at the top, provides a magnificent view of the area.
If it’s a sunny day, there are several shady spots along the way that make you feel like you’ve walked into a magical forest. There is even a tree swing where you can stop, take a break and have some fun. Horses and bicycles are also allowed on the trail, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for them.This place isn’t the only place to enjoy a secluded waterfall. Just north of San Francisco, you can hike to this awesome waterfall right on the ocean.
Native American history at the preserve dates back 7,000 years. Remains from their culture still remain in places. And, at the East end of the preserve, you should make a visit to the Santa Maria de Los Peñasquitos adobe ranch house. The house dates back to 1823, has been restored and has tours available. The ruins of another adobe house, El Cuervo (circa 1857) can be found at the West end of the park.
The park contains a diverse ecosystem that includes over 175 species of birds, over 500 different plant species and numerous mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Some of these animals are rare and endangered species that find protection within the preserve. Please be mindful of this, and do not chase or try to catch any animals within the park. Also, stay on the trails and out of protected areas.