Saturday, January 31, 2015

Guajome County Park | Oceanside, CA

A little gem of a park smack in the middle of suburbia that offers hiking, jogging, fishing, picnicking, and camping. My family spent the day here with my in-laws, who were camping. Aside from North County's beaches, not many public spaces for anything resembling true "hiking" can be found in Oceanside or in neighboring Vista and Carlsbad. One significant exception is Gaujome Regional Park, an oasis of open space in east Oceanside. Cookie-cutter suburban homes adjoin the park on the west, while a more gracious and spacious semi-rural aspect of North County's urban geography blankets the rolling hills to the east of the park.

It's $3 for a day parking which allows you in the park up until sunset. They allow dogs as long as they are on a leash and you clean up after them. They offer doggie clean up bags which is nice. There are signs warning of rattlesnakes in the area so keep your eyes open and little ones close in the spring. As long as you watch where you're going and you don't allow your pets to go poking around in brush you should be fine. This area is also popular with horseback riders so just watch out for the land mines that the horses leave behind! There are about 33 camping spots within the area and they have maps throughout the park.

The sites are clean and well maintained.

Guajome Park has a nice mix of wild and civilized features. There's a 4-mile trail system encircling Guajome Lake and  a small pond hidden in a secluded back corner of the park. The park's topography is gentle, making almost all of its trails ideal for jogging as well as walking. Horseback riding is allowed in the park's east half, east of the service road.

Everyone hiked about 2 miles of trail before returning to camp, leaving me to finish up the rest.

I was impressed with the variety of vegetation here.

Audrey was always running ahead to find rocks that caught here eye.

The trails had these little plaques here and there, describing some of the plants and trees in the area.

It was hiding in the reeds.

Jackson was getting a bit too warm in the carrier, so I took him, keeping him in the shade of my body the best I could.

Audrey took advantage of the now empty carrier.

The westernmost trail in the park skirts a freshwater marsh that oozes moisture, even during the driest months of the year. Flanked by willows and cottonwoods and overgrown with cattails and palms, this area exudes a complex mixture of damp odors that you can't often experience around most parts of arid San Diego County.

After my trek, we had lunch and then headed to the lake to feed the ducks. It was a day well spent with family and I was pleasantly surprised to find such a nice little network of trails at this county park.

How to Get There: The Highway 76 expressway going east from Interstate 5 makes it easy to reach Guajome Park from the coast. Exit I-5 at Highway 76 and drive east 6 miles to Guajome Lake Road, past the traffic light at North Santa Fe Drive. We headed North on Interstate 15, West on Gopher Canyon Road, North on E. Vista Way and then West on the 76. You'll pay a day-use parking fee at the main entrance on Guajome Lake Road for the privilege of parking inside. The park's summer hours are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wise visitors intent on exercise tend avoid the midday summer heat - though on many days a cooling coastal breeze sweeps up the San Luis Rey valley and provides natural air conditioning throughout the park.

3000 Guajome Lake Road
Oceanside, CA 92057

Official Site: San Diego County Parks

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hiking Torrey Pines State Reserve

Hiking at Torrey Pines is probably as good as it gets in San Diego! The views are spectacular! The trails aren't too steep or difficult, which makes this a great area to explore for families with younger children. Although this area can be enjoyed year-round, summer is especially enjoyable since trees provide some shade along parts of the trail and the inviting waters of the Pacific ocean lie just beyond the bluffs. There are lots of overlooks where you can take in  views of the cliffs, ocean, canyons and all the beautiful, breathtaking scenery. 

Be aware of the $12 to $15 parking fee. I recommend carpooling. Restrooms are near the parking lot. Other than that, just grab some snacks and water and you're good to go! There's plenty of photo opportunities. This is a great place to get a workout or hang out with family and friends.

"Here's the San Diego coastline at its unspoiled best, with clean beaches, dramatic cliffs, and an unlikely forest of rare trees. The rare and beautiful Torrey pines atop the coastal bluffs south of Del Mar are as much a symbol of the Golden State as are the famed Monterey cypress trees native to central California's coast. Torrey pines grow naturally in only two places on earth: in and around Torrey Pines State Reserve and on Santa Rosa Island, off Santa Barbara." -Jerry Schad, Afoot And Afield In San Diego County

Starting out at the lower parking lot along the beach.

Looks like were on the right track.

Our friends Dustin and Liza (on the right) joined us, along with their son, Johnny.

These relatively easy trails will reward you with majestic views of the Pacific Ocean.

Making our way down to the beach. 

This is a great hike to bring the little ones on. We walked back to our vehicle along the beach- it was so flat and easy for them.  You could spend under an hour here if you're just going for a quick and scenic run, or you could take your time and spend several hours enjoying the beauty of San Diego's coastline here.

Baby wearin' mommas.

I was happy to get the whole family out for this trip. This summer we plan on trekking 5 miles up the coast from La Jolla Shores to Torrey pines. 

Our route through the reserve.

Fees: South Beach/Reserve lots: $10-12 Mon-Thurs, $12-15 Fri-Sun and Holidays (low-high season; major holidays may have an additional fee.)

How To Get There: Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is located between La Jolla and Del Mar, California, north of San Diego. From Hwy 5, exit on Carmel Valley Road and drive west for about 1.5 miles till you reach the Coast Highway 101. Turn left and proceed along the beach for about a mile. The park entrance is on your right just before the highway begins to climb the Torrey Pines grade. 

12600 North Torrey Pines Road, San Diego CA 92037

Here's a great write up from Modern Hiker: Modern Hiker - Hiking Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve