We recently spent a month at Rancho Los Coches RV Park in Lakeside, California. This park was off the highway enough that you didn’t hear the noise but located only about 25 minutes from San Diego.
While there, we found four “Not a Nature Walk” Hikes just a short drive from the park. (There are many more; these are the four that we did.) Video with pics at the end!
Crestridge Ecological Reserve
Crestridge Ecological Reserve is south of I-8 near Lakeside, and is about 3,000 acres. There are 4 access points on the south side of the park. There is also the Walmart Option, which is an unofficial access point on the north side. The entire trail is about 6 miles from end to end.
This isn’t an official access point, but many hikers and cyclists use this as a starting point for hiking or biking this trail from west to east. There is a 1-mile steep incline that takes you above Walmart, but once you’re at the top, the trail levels off and the views are spectacular. We took this option when we wanted a shorter, more intense workout.
Horsemill Road – Main Entrance
The main entrance to the reserve is on Horsemill Road. The trail starts out level, and then has a more gentle climb up and down than the Walmart Option. We were able to hike longer because of this, and went several times to hike the different offshoots. The views were as beautiful, and we felt we were able to experience more.
Oakoasis County Preserve
Oakoasis County Preserve is a 2.5-mile loop through this county park. There isn’t a large elevation gain, but it’s a nice change from Crestridge. There is a short climb to the top where the park overlooks the San Vicente Reservoir and Lowell Island. If you are more adventurous, the El Capitan County Preserve is across the street. This one is recommended for only experienced hikers, and “darn” we ran out of time!
Louis A. Stelzer County Park
Louis A. Stelzer County Park is located north of Lakeside, and is named after the benefactor who deeded the land to San Diego County when he died in 1972. He wanted the children of the county to have a place where they could enjoy outdoor education and recreation.
The park is used for a variety of activities, including weddings. There is a $3 fee for the parking pass, cash only.
The Stelzer Ridge Trail
This trail is only .6-miles, however, it is a bit deceiving. Once you are out from the tree cover, the trail gets steeper. Be sure to bring water, as there is no shade from this point on. When you get to the top, you have the option of going left to Stelzer Summit or right to Kumeyaay Promontory. We chose the latter and weren’t disappointed in the views.
Mount Soledad Memorial
Mount Soledad Memorial is home to a beautiful, peaceful park overlooking LaJolla and the Pacific Ocean. We actually hiked this one backward, thinking we were going to Rose Canyon, which is at the base of the mountain. Fortunately, we were able to find the trail at the top and follow it down, and then back up around the memorial. We hiked 1.3 miles with a bit of straight-up climbing at the end.
Our “Not a Nature Walk” Hikes Video
No matter which hike you choose, every one of them has different vistas, intensities, and lengths. The goal is to get out there, exercise, and see the beauty around you.