San Diego Trail Tramps Scheduled Hikes for 2008

Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve

Date:    May 18th, 2008  09:00 AM -  05:00 PM
Group:    San Diego Trail Tramps
Info urls:    Hidden San Diego, County of San Diego Parks and Preserves, Hike Santa Ysabel Valley: San Diego's hidden treasure


Directions: Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve (Kanaka Loop Trail/East approach) is located near Julian, about 60 miles East of San Diego. Driving time is a little over an hour from San Diego. Hikers leaving from the Hillcrest carpool about 9:15 am, take Interstate 8 East for about 35 miles, then turn north onto CA-79 following signs thru Cuyamaca Rancho State Park towards Julian. An alternate route would be up through Ramona and out along Highway 78, thru Santa Ysabel, to Julian. When you arrive in downtown Julian, go north from town on Farmer Road about 2.2 miles. Turn right on Wynola Road for about 100 yards, then a quick left, back onto the continuation of Farmer Road. Pass the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve sign on your right. Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve will be on the left side, approximately one mile from the Volcan sign. Parking is available in the staging area. We'll start hiking about 10:30 am.

Click HERE for maps. For weather reports for the Julian area, click HERE

Hours: 8 a.m.-7 p.m. (summer), 8 a.m.-sunset (winter). Hikers, bicyclists and equestrians are all be permitted on trails, but not motorized vehicles. There is a 4.5-mile and a 7-mile loop trail at both ends of the eastern preserve along with a trail connecting the loops.

The 8 mile roundtrip hike we'll be doing is easy to moderate with a 250' elevation gain/loss, and will take about 2.5-3 hrs., plus a lunch break with a great view. Hikers should dress for the weather, wear sturdy shoes and bring water. There are no restrooms at the site.

The Nature Conservancy bought the Santa Ysabel West land parcel in Oct. 1999 from the long-time owners, the Edwards family of Julian. This parcel is 1512 acres of open grassland and mature oaks, to the west of Highway 79, just north of the town of Santa Ysabel. A year later, they purchased Santa Ysabel East, which is a huge 3,890 acre parcel that starts at Santa Ysabel and goes all the way to the base of Volcan Mountain Preserve. In 2001, the county acquired the title to the land from the state of California, which had bought it from the conservancy with the help of $11 million in grants from the state Wildlife Conservation Board.

Although the preserve has two sections which were used for years to raise cattle before it was acquired by the Nature Conservancy, only the East parcel is currently open. San Diego County opened the area to the public on July 1, 2006. It adds more than eight hikeable miles to the Coast to Crest regional trail, which is planned to extend 55 miles from the beach in Del Mar to Volcan Mountain near Julian.

Ranging from around 2,930 feet in altitude near Highway 79 to peaks of almost 4,300 feet, the preserve is a mix of chaparral, grassland, oak forest, and pine forest at upper elevations. Some of the wildlife species present at the Preserve are the bald eagle, golden eagle, the California spotted owl and tri-color blackbird, deer, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, bats, bobcat and wild turkeys. The preserve has seasonal ponds and wetlands that hold delicate plants such as the western azalea.


Time permitting after the hike, we'll also pay a visit to 1-2 nearby wineries before leaving the area. They're open about 11am-5 pm on weekends. (Menghini Winery, 1150 Julian Orchards Drive, Julian, CA 92036 (760) 765-2072) & (Jenkins Winery, 1255 Julian Orchards Drive, P.O. Box 2094, Julian, CA  92036, (760) 765-3267) They usually have weekend wine-tasting and sometimes have art shows to enjoy. ;^) Wine tasting at each winery is usually around $5 to taste about 6 wines, and you get to keep the glass. For more on wine tasting tours in the area, please click HERE. Cheers!