Afoot and Afield San Diego County  by Jerry Schad

Afoot & Afield: San Diego County Guide Book

by Jerry Schad (Wilderness Press)
Afoot and Afield San Diego County  by Jerry Schad
This 4th Edition of San Diego County's classic hiking guidebook features 250 trips, ranging from short, self-guiding nature trails to challenging peak climbs and canyon treks. In Afoot & Afield San Diego County, Southland hiking guru Jerry Schad explores all the county's worthwhile hiking destinations in detail, from along the beaches and bays, over the foothills, to the mountains and out to the desert. Fully updated, this expanded edition includes new maps and more than 35 new hikes, with a focus on recently established trails in or near the county's coastal and inland communities. This book encompasses almost all public - and a few private - lands within San Diego County, including Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Cleveland National Forest, the Cuyamaca Mountains, numerous county and city parks.

© 2007 Jerry Schad/Wilderness Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Afoot & Afield: San Diego County" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 250.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 250.

Before the 1970s, the canyon of Agua Caliente Creek above Warner Springs seldom saw the intrusion of humans. After the Pacific Crest Trail was routed through, however, it became recognized as a pleasant camping spot for backpackers heading north toward Canada or south toward Mexico. This is one of only four places in San Diego County where the PCT dips to cross a fairly dependable stream, and the only place in the county where that trail closely follows running water for a fair distance.
Warner Springs, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 8
By following the directions given here, you can piece together a rewarding loop hike that uses a forgotten alignment of the earliest highway into the Lagunas, visits the shady recesses of Agua Dulce Creek, and traverses the south arm of Laguna Meadow. When several inches or more of snow accumulates above the 5000-foot level, the route becomes excellent for cross-country skiing.
Mount Laguna, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.3
The completion of the Wild Horse Trail in 1992 made it possible to execute a long, looping course around a good fraction of the entire Agua Tibia Wilderness area. Unless you’re a real speed demon—two hikers did indeed speed along the route in one day in 2006—plan this as a two-day backpack trip, with an overnight stay amid the oaks and pines of Agua Tibia Mountain. Navigational difficulties may be encountered at any spot where trees have fallen across the trail or, more commonly, where thick brush encroaches.
Temecula, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 20
For centuries, Cahuilla Indians used Alcoholic Pass as a convenient shortcut between Coyote Canyon and Clark Valley. In time, a well-beaten trail was worn across the precipitous slopes west of the pass. Around the year 1900, the Clark brothers, early cattlemen who homesteaded in Coyote Canyon, used this trail to transport some primitive well-drilling equipment to the site now known as Clark Well in Clark Valley. Near the top of the pass, the old Cahuilla trail squeezed between two boulders so closely spaced that the burros’ loads had to be unpacked to fit through. Today, you can still follow the obvious trace of this historic pathway.
Borrego Springs, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
If it’s solitude you want, this is your trip. Years ago, I hiked it on a cold, silent winter night, under the pale light of a first-quarter moon. I felt as if I were traveling a canyon no one had ever visited before—and that may have been close to the truth. In my flashlight’s beam, I discovered fresh, fist-sized tracks of a mountain lion. The light of dawn revealed the densest population of elephant trees I’d ever seen in one spot. These trees grow on both sides of the canyon, but especially on the north wall, where the tiny leaves of the plants are exposed to the maximum amount of sunshine. Some stand upright 10 or more feet tall, while others, rooted to talus slopes, have limbs that slither along like stunted, battered conifers at timberline. Once the wiry saplings gain a foothold in small pockets of soil, they survive by rolling with the punches: Rockslides merely train the flexible limbs to grow in new directions.
Ocotillo Wells, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 10
One option is to carry your overnight gear along this route and stay at Arroyo Seco Primitive Camp; if you decide to do this, you must park your car overnight at Green Valley Campground and make that your starting point. Bracken fern, sword fern, thimbleberry, and wild strawberry thrive in the shade of oaks and sycamores along the creek bottom. The water merely dribbles from cracks in the bedrock, but nearby are some flat rocks to rest upon in a shady spot.
Descanso, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.2
Along the canyon walls of Arroyo Tapiado (“Mudwall Wash”), weathering and erosion acting on friable sedimentary rock have produced a strange kind of topography known by some geologists as pseudokarst. Like karst topography, which is associated with limestone caverns and sinkholes, this pseudokarst landscape contains caves, subterranean drainage systems, and “blind valleys” that end in “swallow holes.” The loop hike described here— “strenuous” only because of its excessive length—also includes narrow, twisting Arroyo Seco del Diablo (“Dry Wash of the Devil”), a.k.a. Arroyo Diablo, with plenty of opportunities for side trips into narrow tributary ravines.
Ocotillo, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 16.5
The Azalea Glen Trail, the coolest and shadiest pre-Cedar-Fire route in the park, is showcasing some strong signs of botanical rebirth. Amid the ghost forests of closely spaced, blackened tree trunks, a bright green understory of fire-following shrub vegetation is spreading across the ground. Some of the giant canyon live oak trees are sending out new branches and leaves, and seedlings of pines and cedars are setting the stage for a modest recovery of the coniferous forest.
Descanso, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
With two steep ravines spanned by quaint footbridges, scores of well-kept, historically significant homes, and mature landscaping, Banker’s Hill is a monument to the elegance of the past. The work of turn-of-the-century architect Irving Gill, recognized today as one of the trendsetters in modern building design, is well-represented here. So is the work of his partner, William Hebbard, and several of Gill’s protégés, including Richard Requa and Frank Mead.
San Diego, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
A cool current caressed my feet, erasing the memory of several long, hot miles on the trail. Sunlight scattered among a thousand fluttering leaves, and a tiny sliver of new moon glowed softly in a blue wedge of sky overhead. Water skaters flitted nervously on the rippled surface of the pool, casting fleeting shadows on a trio of small fish feeding on the bottom. Even in the warm month of July, with the creek ebbing, Barker Valley could still be delightful.
Oak Grove, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.2
Visitors (no bikes, though) are welcome to follow a path along the restored lagoon’s shoreline. It’s delightful to come here during early morning or late evening, when bird-watching is best; and it’s a good place to find a cool breeze during the warm spells of summer.
Carlsbad, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.8
This small park includes one significant hike, starting with a short, self-guiding nature trail on the slope just behind the visitor center. After about 0.2 mile on that, you can continue west on the Battle Monument Trail across dry slopes and reach a hilltop ramada and bench after about 0.5 mile. Thickets of prickly pear cactus dot the slope, their ripe red fruits bulging by the hundreds during the fall season. From the ramada the broad, flat San Pasqual Valley spreads before you. Most of the valley is a designated agricultural preserve within the city limits of San Diego—which is why it is not filled with subdivisions. In the opposite direction you can spot parts of the Wild Animal Park, and often some of the large animals that roam more-or-less-free there.
San Pasqual, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
Coastal sage scrub and chaparral vegetation are highlighted along the Bayside Trail, but it’s more worth taking for the wonderful, unobstructed views of San Diego Bay, the Silver Strand, and San Diego’s flashy skyline. You’ll double your pleasure if you walk this trail on a crystal-clear day, typical of the period December through March. Note that you must be off the trail well before the time of Cabrillo National Monument’s closing, typically around dusk.
San Diego, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
The trails along the Lake Hodges shoreline have long been popular, and now a route up Bernardo Mountain is attracting attention as well. The bulk of the mountain was purchased for inclusion in the San Dieguito River Park in 2002, so now hikers and mountain bikers (with expert riding skills) can reach the top without leaving public land.
Escondido, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 7.2
The 6-mile Big Laguna Trail, completed in 1991, wends its scenic way over gently rolling hills and grassy dales, never dipping below 5400 feet of elevation nor rising to more than 5900 feet. By combining the BLT with a 4-mile segment of the Pacific Crest Trail, you can cover a relatively flat 10 miles with lots of varied scenery. Mountain bikers can use the Big Laguna Trail portion of the route described here, but bikes are prohibited on all parts of the PCT, which is reserved for bipedal and quadrupedal creatures (humans, horses, and dogs). On a bike, however, you could close the loop by riding on Sunrise Highway. The cool, dry days of autumn are perfect times to enjoy this loop hike. You’ll walk under wind-battered, 200-year-old Jeffrey pines and spreading black oaks whose golden yellow leaves shimmer in the breeze.
Mount Laguna, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 10
Try walking this easy trail (named in honor of a former Anza-Borrego park supervisor) in the early morning or in late afternoon, when warm-tinted sunlight and long shadows soften the landscape. At this higher and often windswept locale, the desert vegetation is sparse but varied, with most varieties of indigenous cactus represented. The best attraction along the trail, though, is the marvelous view from the two overlook points. Dominating the scene below, to the south, is Mescal Bajada, a vast, sloping sheet of alluvial deposits. The stark Pinyon Mountains, the source of the deposits, rise in the background. You can easily imagine the processes that produced this landscape: Wind and water erosion, aided by alternating hot and cold temperatures, tear at the face of the Pinyon Mountains, opening up ravines and canyons. Great loads of sand and boulders wash out of these openings during floods and build alluvial fans. The fans coalesce to form a sloping skirt (or bajada) extending outward from the base of the mountains.
Borrego Springs, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
This easy-going, mostly descending, east-to-west, one-way walk on the Santa Ysabel Truck Trail is fine for a cool day, but a potentially hot and sweaty affair during the warmer half of the year. You’ll be following a segment of the future Coast to Crest Trail—a long-distance, multiuse trail intended to link the coastline at Del Mar to the crest of Volcan Mountain near Julian. You’ll meander mostly downhill and sometimes uphill on shadeless south- and west-facing slopes blanketed in chamise and other drought-resistant forms of chaparral. The truck trail might be open to four-wheel-drive traffic—but if so, you’d likely see very few vehicles.
Ramona, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 5
In Black Canyon water has amply illustrated its mindless yet artistic ability to sculpt stone. Every once in a great while, a gush of sediment-laden water tears through the canyon bottom, carving and polishing the bedrock slabs, drilling potholes ever deeper, toppling trees, and pushing rounded boulders downstream. In a normal winter or spring season, the stream of water in Black Canyon is quite placid: It happily splashes over small waterfalls, pauses in pools, slides along inclined slabs, and finds hidden passages beneath immense boulders.
Santa Ysabel, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
San Diego County’s “big” Black Mountain (not the smaller one looming above Rancho Penasquitos) rises gently to an elevation of 4051 feet outside Ramona. A fire lookout tower once stood on Black Mountain’s summit, taking full advantage of a panoramic—and certainly unique—vista furnished by the mountain’s strategic central location within the county. Hikers, bikers, runners, equestrians, and sometimes four-wheel drivers have public access to Black Mountain’s summit via a winding fire road up the southwest flank—though motorized vehicles never get closer than about 1 mile from the top.
Ramona, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 14.2
The panoramic views to the north include land that was completely uninhabited only a couple decades ago. Today, the rolling landscape includes the housing developments of 4S Ranch, and farther off to the northwest and west, the newest San Diego neighborhoods in the area known as Del Sur. An old, steep, and rocky firebreak, just west of the Miner’s Ridge Trail, goes straight up the northwest ridge of Black Mountain. It can be used to climb to the summit. But there are easier ways to reach the top—for example, the South Slope.
San Diego, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.5